First things first. I don’t have a Blackberry Playbook, HP Touchpad (I sold it). I don’t have Android Tablet with ICS or up installed. I sold them on eBay and bought a nice Surface Pro for me. That puts my tests incomplete, but they gave me a basic idea. Since Playbook and Touchpad have minimal market, I decided not to worry and test against them, unless some great soul loans me those. I might get a Galaxy Note Tab in a few days and I will update this again.

Here I am not talking about App Ecosystem (iPad and Android). I am not talking about MS Office availability (Windows RT). I am not talking about fast boot approach like browser as a OS (Chromebook) or wide choice of devices (Android). I am also not worried about cloud sync, because almost all these devices are capable of syncing to cloud through natively or 3rd party apps. I am also not talking about which lasts longer on a single full charge or which is lighter to carry around.

I just want to be able to sync my smartphone through USB to the tablet I have, and explore it and sync the content. This is just because most of the media and good number of great analysts of Wall Street, IDC and Gartner are talking about death of PC or Post PC devices and even some of them say Microsoft is doomed and it is going to die tomorrow. If that happens, my PCs will not work because a dead company can’t release something to support my devices. I should be able to USB sync my devices, because if I can’t pay for internet for unforeseeable circumstances, the so called cloud services will not be there for me and I really can’t touch my media in the cloud.

Yes, with this type of economy an average Joe like me should be prepared for the worst come and in this case it is having a media backup locally instead of in the cloud would save the day.

Anyway keeping the rant at bay, I tried USB sync iPhone 5, HTC EVO 3D with Android ICS, Windows Phone 7.5, and Windows 8 with Surface RT, iPad 2 and Chromebook.

Here are my findings:

Host/Device iPhone 5 HTC EVO 3D Windows Phone 8 Windows Phone 7.5
Surface RT Photos/Video Disk Drive Total Sync No
iPad 2 Photos/Video “Connected USB Device Not Supported” “Connected USB Device Not Supported” “Connected USB Device Not Supported”
Chromebook No Disk Drive No No


Note: I erased or blurred some parts of the screenshots, as they are not necessary.

Surface RT or any Windows RT tablet could USB Sync with iPhone 5, Android, and of course Windows 8. In the case of Windows Phone 7.5, Microsoft said it needs Zune Client, which is a legacy Windows app developed for x86/x64 compatible processors not ARM compatible processors. Windows RT runs on ARM processor, so which is understandable and you have to use SkyDrive to sync.

When you USB sync your iPhone with Windows RT tablet here are the sequence of events that happen on your Windows RT Tablet.

It shows a dialog box on the upper right corner of your tablet like this:


and then once you tap that you will be presented with this:


If you select “Import photos and videos”, it opens the Photos app and you can import the pictures and videos from your phone.

If you select “Open device to view files”, then the Desktop App gets opened and within desktop Windows Explorer application gets launched like the following:


Once you tap Internal storage, it gets expanded and all you see is the DCIM folder and that’s where your photos and videos taken from iPhone Camera’s gets stored:


If you Sync your Android with Windows RT, once you USB sync your phone you will see something similar to the following. Please note the following are similar screens presented on your Android phone even if you USB sync with your Chromebook:


Once you tap Charge only, you will see something similar on your phone. Please select Disk drive option and tap on Done:

Screenshot_2013-04-19-22-08-18     Screenshot_2013-04-19-22-08-35

Desktop App on your Windows RT tablet gets launched and it opens the Windows Explorer application and you could see that your Android device mounted as external drive. And you could transfer files between your Windows RT Tablet and Android device. Please wait for 15 to 20 seconds to see this:


Now let us do Windows Phone 8 USB Sync. If you have already done that, you might have Windows Phone App already installed on your Windows RT tablet and it takes care syncing between your phone and Tablet. But if you are doing it for the first time, you will similar to the following screens:


Once you tap, it starts downloading and installing the Windows Phone app from Windows Store. Once it is installed you will asked to change your phone name and option to automatically import media to your computer. Click on All Done and you will taken to Windows Phone App and you could see the pictures, videos, and options to sync music etc:


Ok now let us see iPad 2 sync with various devices. With iPad, of course you have to use iPad USB Adapter to sync with your iPhone, and it opens the Photos App on your iPad and allows you to import pictures/video from your iPhone. Surprisingly iPad doesn’t work with any of Android, Windows Phone 7.5 and Windows Phone 8. It threw an alert box saying “Cannot use USB Device. Connected USB Device Not Supported.”

Once you USB sync your iPhone 5 with iPad2 using USB adapter (purchased separately from Apple), you will see the Photos App launched and you will given an option to Import and delete pictures/video from your iPhone 5 like this:


But if you USB Sync your Android device or Windows Phone (7.5 or 8), you will see something like this:



Now let us see how Chromebook works with iPhone, Android Phone and Windows Phone (7.5 and 8).

Once you USB Sync either your iPhone or Windows Phone (7.5 or 8), you will not see any action on the Chromebook. I waited for more than 10 minutes nothing happened. I opend Files App on my Chromebook and still I didn’t see anything, except for Downloads and Google Drive folders on that:

Screenshot 2013-04-20 at 11.01.46 AM

Chromebook can be synced with Android devices using the Disk Drive option once you USB sync your phone. And since it becomes an external drive, you could transfer files, media between devices like it did with Windows RT tablets. I synced my HTC EVO 3D with ICS and it launched the Files App and I could see my phone listed as USB Drive:

Screenshot 2013-04-20 at 11.03.42 AM

I am planning to get an Android tablet and see how it syncs with various phones. I don’t have a Blackberry or Symbian phones. If someone provides me those, I could run these again and see how they could be able to sync up with Tablets.

Now if Microsoft could provide a way to sync the stored contacts, text messages using USB, then that would complete it.

To me personally, Windows RT tablet is more savvier and appealing than competing tablets. It comes Microsoft Office for RT, which is much better than many Office like Apps for Android, iPhone/iPad or Google Drive. The Windows Store is growing and it already has good number of applications, currently looking at 50,000+ apps and Xbox Games. Windows RT tablets come with USB port support and HDMI support. Of course you could do the same on Android and iPads too. They also have support for various sensors and cameras like higher end Android tablets and iPads. Support for RDP is there like Android Tablets, and iPads. And I could connect to variety of cloud services just like other tablets. The factor for me is having Lync support. I use Lync most of the day to communicate with my peers at work.

Don’t you think Windows RT tablets are better than competing platforms?


  1. So, I’ve read that Intel’s new chips may soon provide that coveted x86 architecture and high performance with size, battery usage and heat generation on par with ARM chips like what’s in the Surface RT. Will that seal RT’s fate?

  2. Nice analysis. They talk about the iPad being a consumption device, but that should be clarified as being a “Web”, always connected, consumption device. Try moving a PDF or PPT on or off an iPad, without the assistance of a dying PC. Never touched a Chromebook. But is it any easier to copy files to and from the device, from a USB stick or say a website?

    • Chromebook is not that easy like people said. It is also locked down to “Google Ecosystem” unlike Android. You have to check the Files App in order to move anything. You have to dig into the apps to know about it. If you don’t know anything about that App, because it is buried in the list” you never realize. Also you could do only drag and drop because it misses the command prompt or should I say shell. It is very easy if you just do surfing the web or doing some google docs. Rest of the stuff, just crap.

      • What you’re locked down to Ram is the “Google Ecosystem” … *and* the entire web, both of which are evolving rapidly, and the world is moving most things most people use computers for most, in many cases all, of the time to the web.

        My understanding is that Microsoft is aggressively implementing web-ish forms of their products including Office which I’m pretty sure would work on Chromebooks if you prefer that to Google Docs.

        Obviously Chromebooks, certainly not as a primary computer, are not and may never be right for you, me and most of our visitors. I love giving Google my money but I still don’t own one. Not easy to picture using a web app version of Final Cut Pro in Chrome or on any browser, running either on $200 or $2000 hardware alike. I haven’t checked but I think it’s a safe bet that you can’t even run Google Earth on these things. Ouch.

        So it’s not for us. Nevertheless, I bet almost all of us can think of family members for whom it would be just perfect.

        Regarding the Pixel, note that it, like the Nexus line was intended to be, is a reference, a suggestion, to the industry that this cloud-only notion is not just for budget hardware. And the web is not just for 1366×768 resolutions, so step your game up web designers.

        Most people will never need a terabyte of cloud storage, or even local storage, but if you do, you can either pay whatever the market rate is for a terabyte for three years (from Google that’s $1800), or pay less for this fancy Chromebook and get the terabyte for less money. Plus some free Verizon I believe (not much, but some).

        The Surface RT from my understanding brings this stuff to the table plus (at first glance..) it’s a full-fledged computer, not just a web browser, that is also a tablet if you’re inclined to snap off and snap on and dance around. Great. People need that, but there is also a blossoming market for needing something that runs Chrome, whatever Chrome runs but nothing else, and is relatively inexpensive.

        These things that run Windows and things that only run Chrome, like remote control cars and slot cars are for different people — those seeking simplicity and those seeking a more conventional computer. It’s a good thing that consumers have a wide spectrum of options to find what suits them best. We’re all snowflakes man, it’s a beautiful thing.

        Good article though. And your English was a little better than usual. Not great, but hey, baby steps.

      • Doug
        I agree with about web-ish forms. But having said that can I install another web browser on Chromebook, say FireFox or replace Google Drive with SkyDrive? And thats why I said locked to “Google Ecosystem” or I should’ve said Google Apps.

      • As for Skydrive, if you can access it with Chrome, you can access it with a Chromebook; and as for having it not as a web interface but a drive-looking thing in your file manager, sounds like a good idea to me that’s doable (for Skydrive and anything else), it’s a feature request that’s gaining some popularity.

        As for running Firefox (without installing something like Ubuntu, which you can do if you’re determined) or logging into the Chromebook with a Hotmail account instead of Gmail, well, .. if there’s a demand for it, someone may try to fill it — and that doesn’t necessarily exclude Google, which appears to be interested in your using its (their?) services more than their platforms.

        The list of platforms could be bigger though, and I’d like to see Google start to give Windows Phone the same sort of attention it gives iOS. There could be such a thing as a symbiotic relationship between the two companies if they’d just lower their weapons.

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