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> Initial Impressions of my Gemini, Thoughts and impressions on the unit I received
donc
post Mar 12 2018, 11:57 AM
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Background
I ordered the Gemini very early (ID#42) before the Gemini became a possible phone replacement. I ordered it for a number of reasons. I also ended up ordering the connectivity pack and the pouch later in the campaign. I ordered a Broadband SIM card for the Gemini so that it had 4G connectivity but this is not set up for calls. As such I couldn’t test any phone functionality.

Packaging
The main box for the Gemini contains the Gemini itself, quick start leaflet, the back removal tool, a charger and a charge cable. This all looks extremely good and the Gemini is well protected. The accessories are similarly well protected in their boxes.

The Gemini itself
The Gemini I received externally was very well put together. The case looks and feels very good. The keyboard on the unit I have does have some slightly skewed keys and some of the printing on the sides is slightly skewed as well. I can be quite OCD but this actually didn’t bother me that much. I think this is because the keyboard works pretty well. It does take some time to get used to. The action is quite similar to the Psion 5mx that I have. The key actions can be a little hit and miss at first but I am getting better able to cope with them although the spacebar needs a hit in the middle of the bar to make sure it registers {as others have noted). The keyboard is better than the one on the GPD Pocket by a long way, even though it is smaller.
Sizewise the Gemini is much bigger than the iPhone 6 I use but is much more pocketable than the GPD Pocket. It is a lot bigger than the iPhone6/7/8 Plus that I have seen and probably most other Phablets (which I haven’t) as well. As such I wouldn’t use it by itself as a phone although it probably wouldn’t be out of place in the far east where large phablets are more the norm. It would work very well with a bluetooth headset/dialler and a smart watch in tandem though.
I have not used to Android so am still getting used to the operating system. I understand that Android is a bit mixed with support for a physical keyboard and this is my experience so far. I also think the Gemini keyboard drive needs work, for example Page Up and Page Down generally doesn’t register in most apps (although I could get it to work with an external keyboard). Although oddly I am able to use CTRL LEFT ARROW/RIGHT ARROW to jump words in Word... This is definitely an area for Planet Computers to try to improve. Weirdly on my unit using backspace can mean that the unit stops registering what you type (if you then start trying to from where you stop) but this applies to both external and the main keyboard so this seems to be something to do with Android. Moving the cursor away and back again is enough to get round this.
The screen is very good, it is sharp and as good as any I have used. I suspect that the screen comes from LG given the 18:9 ratio and resolution (like their flagship phone). I have so far found that the battery life more than adequate. On one hand I have not been using the Gemini to type out massive documents and spreadsheets, on the other I have been downloaded apps, setting up the device and giving it a general work out. Plus being new it gets pulled out and put back quite a lot. I have so far managed to get 1.5-2 days out of a charge. I am sure even fairly heavy use should get a full day out of the battery.
Performance wise I have not confirmed that I have an X25 model although I assume it is being part of the first batch. However, I have not yet had an issue with speed. I am not gaming on the Gemini so there may be a noticeable difference then but in general use the processor seems more than capable not giving any holdups whilst it gets going launching apps.

Accessories
I received the USB-C hub and the HDMI cable. I can confirm that third party USB-C hubs work but both I have used did not have a working HDMI output. I was expecting this based on the info in these forums but others may be hoping to use a third party hub to do this. Interestingly the package included another USB-C charger and cable as part of the connectivity pack. I would have liked to be able to specify a different plug than the one supplied in the Gemini pack.
The USB charger supplied is a Pump Express charger with a USB-A port which I had not heard of before. On the charger it states 5V/2A and up to a maximum of 12V/1.25A. It does charge the Gemini very quickly with a full charge taking around 1-1.5hrs. I have tried an Anker USB charger with both USB-A and USB-C to test it works but not to test charge times. USB-A worked fine but USB-C did not.
The pouch was a very tight fit when I first got it from the packaging but took some care the first few times to put the Gemini in and out of the pouch. Subsequently the pouch has fitted perfectly. It is thin leather {thinner than I was expecting} but this keeps bulk down and it still looks able to take knocks.

USB Keyboards and Mice
I have tried a Lenovo Thinkpad Compact USB keyboard with Trackpoint and a Logitech mouse. Both worked well and were recognised straightaway.

SSD, USB Memory Cards and MicroSD cards
I inserted a 256GB microSD card into the Gemini and apart from wanting to format it this was recognised and could be used. Inserting microSD cards into card readers and in the USB hubs repeatedly failed to see the card recognised {Android always wanted to format them first}. Not sure if this is an Android issue or not. In comparison memory cards were recognised fine. I tried a Samsung T3 SSD but again Android wanted to format it.

Overall Impressions
I am impressed with the unit so far. There are definitely things to improve but mostly with the software side of things. I am looking forward to being able to install Linux on the Gemini (haven't decided what to go with yet, Debian probably) but if Planet Computers can keep improving the experience in Android and Linux then I will be very happy. I certainly wouldn't have typed these notes out on my phone!
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salvomic
post Mar 12 2018, 12:57 PM
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Many thanks for the review!

Salvo
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ArchiMark
post Mar 13 2018, 05:52 AM
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Thank you for the detailed impressions, donc!

Hope to see my Gemini in April or early May....

In meantime, keep us posted on how things go....

Mark
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donc
post Mar 15 2018, 01:35 PM
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Update on external storage
Have been playing around with external storage and it looks like the Gemini under Android will only recognise micro SD cards and memory sticks formatted with FAT32. My exFAT formated micro SD cards are the ones being called out to be formatted. I tried formatting a 64GB micro SD card with FAT32 and it was immediately recognised. Haven't tried NTFS but I understand there isn't a driver for these in Android so wouldn't expect them to work.
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Sunyavadin
post May 7 2018, 05:33 AM
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QUOTE(donc @ Mar 12 2018, 08:57 PM) *
SSD, USB Memory Cards and MicroSD cards
I inserted a 256GB microSD card into the Gemini and apart from wanting to format it this was recognised and could be used. Inserting microSD cards into card readers and in the USB hubs repeatedly failed to see the card recognised {Android always wanted to format them first}. Not sure if this is an Android issue or not. In comparison memory cards were recognised fine. I tried a Samsung T3 SSD but again Android wanted to format it.


Literally just had this problem with my old Galaxy Note as well, so it's an Android issue. Android's just finicky about its SD cards.

Although in my case it led to a tangent of even worse issues.
I plugged a brand new 128GB card into it in order to transfer everything off the internal memory for putting on my Gemini. This card wasn't properly recognised by my desktop which couldn't recognise it as being any larger than 24GB when attempting to format it under Windows. Once inserted in the phone it told me the external SD card needed to be formatted in order to use it. Clicked ok, and it formatted the SD card correctly to 128GB.
And also formatted THE ENTIRE INTERNAL MEMORY OF THE PHONE which I guess is a "Feature" of Android 4.x which nobody decided to mention to users. Apparently it's not possible to format an external card without formatting the device's entire internal file structure too. Because reasons.
Ended up spending the next hour with it hooked up to my desktop via USB mass storage, running file recovery software to salvage 4GB of files off there...
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