Reihar's capsule

Welcome to Reihar's gemlog. This page is originally available on my Gemini's capsule but has been made available on the Web. Hope you enjoy it.

Living with a 7" laptop


I'm in the process of renovating my office so as my desktop computer is stashed away, I've been using my travel laptop, i.e. my only laptop, as my main computer for nearly a week now. I've been aware of all of its pitfalls since day one but using that computer for that long, has made them harder to bear.

I bought a GPD Pocket 2 a few years ago, as a replacement for a slightly bigger netbook, which in turn came in replacement of my beloved first generation eeePC that perished in battle. It's insanely practical, and portable. It will fit into any bag, and probably into cargo pant or spacious coat pockets. It's also much beefier than most currently sold sub-12" laptop on the market. The screen is however 7". That makes things awkward. Before describing how, I'll format some of the specs for context:

The configuration is more than adequate for basically anything that isn't games. The battery's good, too. On Linux that is, I didn't even dare boot up that pre-installed Windows 10. In any case, that screen is interesting. It's good quality as far as I can tell. It's tactile – a feature I've willingly used twice – both those times demonstrating to someone that it was indeed tactile. It's also 16:10, my favorite aspect ratio for screens, and has insanely high DPI. Once again, I won't even dare imagine how well Windows would have handled that but since I'm running Linux, I've just configured i3, GTK, qt, and probably some other tools I forgot about, to work correctly with that screen size.

Virtually every pieced of software I ran on that machine behaved. But I wasn't ready for… the World Wide Web. I've known how bad websites are at adapting to resolutions for a while, being a professional (mostly) web developer myself, but I also have a tendency to look at web pages on my vertical 1080x1920 secondary desktop screen. It's extremely frequent for sites to default to mobile at that resolution. It's also happened to have websites stuck in some sort of limbo between tablet/mobile and desktop mode. Having to resize my window to use a website is not that infrequent.

Now, on my laptop, navigating the web is difficult. Scale becomes strange. Menus are sometimes replaced with hamburgers, sometimes take an insane amount of space on the screen. Browsing pages without an external, actually usable, mouse becomes painful with the integrated "Optical Finger Navigation", a smaller than a key square that you use with your index. It's serviceable in most contexts but with constant scrolling being necessary, that becomes hard. The constant scrolling with an actual mouse is a bit better, but not great. 0 CSS HTML is fully responsive, anything that breaks, no matter the resolution comes from deliberate code. It's hard to excuse. Just yesterday, I've been on a website where useful data took only 50% of my screen, the rest was taken by the logo/connect bar and the navigation menu. I have text and images comically cut outside my screen, lost into the unscrollable abyss.

As a result, I've come to appreciate Gemini a lot more. Browsing in my terminal, whose colors and font I chose, using the wonderful Amfora browser, everything is accessible right out of the box. I don't have to tinker with every capsule I encounter. I just read them, look at their ASCII art. If there's a picture, I open it if I want to see it, straight into my default image viewer.

The laptop keyboard is not amazing, it's missing some keys I'd love to have and has some other that I find very useful on the function (fn) layer, but all that is mitigated by using an external keyboard for longer periods of use. Considering the size of the computer, you can comfortably do that in a train or a plane, even if you travel economy.

Once again, everything that went wrong was because of the modern web.

The GPD Pocket 2 product page

Amfora home page