Too large for one’s pocket? Ugly? It does not seem to matter as long as they take us where we want to go, understand the Internet, the social networks, e-mail, the cloud, YouTube and so forth.
Aren’t you lost between the various sizes of smartphones and tablets? Aren’t you hesitating between a smartphone that still looks like a reasonable headset pressed against your ear and a larger one that offers near-cinematic display experience but clearly exceeds a pocket size?
The line is blurred even further with Samsung’s breaking-news announcement of a new smartphone sporting a 6-inch display. Galaxy Mega would be its name and it is just one inch smaller than the 7-inch tablet computers.
On the other hand Archos, a French maker of quality tablets and portable media players is saying its 11-inch tablet is coming soon. This would make it the largest tablet so far, and would take it past the netbook computer sizes. The new Archos will be built on Google’s Android platform, just like Samsung’s Galaxy line.
From four inches up to 11 inches the race is on, and who cares how the device is named or if it looks odd or not. The market for these kinds of computers — there’s still no other name for them — is the fastest growing, exceeding that of laptops — the very machines that ousted desktop computers from their leading position only a few years ago.
Size and portability matter because they do not only give us convenience and, let us admit it, pleasure of use, but because they make us think, work and act differently. Tablets and smartphones just do that. Three essential features make smartphones and tablets stand out.
They are ready instantly, a second or two after you switch them on, contrary to laptops and desktops that need anything from one minute to three to load their operating system and be ready at your command. Then there’s the absence of moving parts like hard disks motors or fans, a blessing that not only takes out noise but makes the device very movable, since you do not have to worry about damaging these moving parts. Last but not least batteries on tablets and smartphones last significantly longer than on laptops, mainly because of the absence of moving parts, precisely.
Why then worry about size?
A relative who lives in Europe and who visited me in Amman a few weeks ago left a seven-inch tablet in my house, a BlackBerry Playbook to be precise. First I ignored the device. I already had the laptops and the smartphones I need. Moreover, the BlackBerry uses an operating system that is not as standard as Android or Apple or Windows, so I didn’t feel particularly attracted to using it (no offence meant to BlackBerry). In addition to that, somewhere between the 4.8 inches of my smartphone and the 15.8 inches of my laptop, I found the seven inches odd.
In the end the temptation was too strong. I started learning my way through the system and got to liking it. Among the great features the Playbook had I discovered was great sound, with two speakers that given their size deliver truly amazing stereo; not a minor point for the music lover in me.
I adopted the Playbook and now I move it everywhere about the house, like some faithful pet, to check the news online, to control other devices connected to the home wireless network thanks to some great apps, to listen to songs on YouTube, and to do simple Google searches. Suddenly its seven-inch display stopped being odd at all. Naturally I would not use it to process large Excel sheets or to touch up high-resolutions photos with Photoshop, for example, but these tasks were not on the drawing board of those who designed the Playbook.
All sizes of tablets and smartphones go, and we need them all. We can easily find a good way to use them.