How Much Does Size Matter in the Tablet/Slate Universe?

With fresh rumors that Apple might be readying a 7 inch Tablet/Slate for the end of this year beginning to heat up there are some that say that this would crush much of the competition for Tablet/Slates and also eBook Readers. I’m not sure I buy into these rumors for the simple reason that it would risk segmenting a market that you currently own where you’re selling a million units a month.

But on the other hand, it can easily be argued that there is no Tablet/Slate sweet spot when it comes to size. From smart/super phones to Tablets we’ve seen sizes released and promised that have a range of screen sizes. The latest wave of smart/super phones with their large screens (4 inches) can almost be described as a Tablet/Slate. It’s too early to tell if the Dell Streak with its 5 inch screen will gain traction. There were quite a few early iPad reviews who said the device was just a bit too big.

So, in the short term future we’re going to see a market with different size screens and perhaps that will be the case moving forward for some time to come. I don’t think that’s a bad thing for the consumer, but it may cause developers some headaches down the road. I’m just wondering what the decision points are when it comes to deciding on which size of screen to bring to market. Are they purely technical? Is it easier to make these complex touch screen devices at a smaller size? Is there data out there that says the markets want 5 to 7 inch screens? Are we aiming for that Haiku pocket-sized device? Certainly handhelds (cell phones) have become powerful enough to be called computers these days. Interesting questions as the Tablet/Slate world continues to evolve.

What’s your thinking on screen size? Use the poll below but also leave a comment as to what your druthers are.

7 Comments

  1. Lex

    08/17/2010 at 5:35 am

    I’m all for a decent 7-inches. It’s big enough to use in a practical sense (can read clearly, ink well, use for media viewing when out and about, etc) but small enough to fit easily in a bag and (hopefully) light enough to be portable. I have a Sony pocket reader and something that was a little bigger than that size-wise, ink-capable, excellent processor, preferably 64GB and up of SSD, capable of being connected to the relevant screen, mouse and keyboard, wifi, fully capable OS to enable work utility as well as home, front & back cams, kick-stand, all screen tablet, with a flip cover to protect it while it was shoved in my bag? That’d be worth getting.

    I know, I’m dreaming.

    Reply

  2. Scott

    08/17/2010 at 6:22 am

    Purpose matters.

    4″ is getting big for a phone at about the maximum size for a pocket.

    7″ to 10″ is good for a device that is split 50-50 (or so) between entertainment and productivity.

    11″ to 15″ is best for productivity and occasional entertainment.

    I’m waiting for a “scroll” device that has a flexible color touch screen which unrolls from a device the size of a Dr. Grip pen. That would be cool.

    Reply

  3. Dave P

    08/17/2010 at 7:19 am

    At 5 inches a tablet will fit in a shirt pocket (for those who still wear shirts with pockets) or a pants pocket. My Archos 5 is in my shirt pocket now. Beyond that, the tablet becomes something you have to carry separately. Thus for mobile use, a 4 or 5 inch tablet or smartphone fits best.

    Once you have to carry it separately, the use cases change. For couch or bed surfing or controlling a media center, a larger tablet is perfect. With the right screen, it can also serve well as an e-reader.

    However, for mobile use, a larger tablet has to compete with light weight laptops. If you’re carrying a bag, the size and weight difference doesn’t affect you as much and the capabilities of the laptop dwarf all the sub $1000 tablets out there. If price is a consideration, a netbook which is comparable in performance will be cheaper.

    I’ve owned expensive (Motion Computing) tablets and they are very nice and very useful. But if I were spending that kind of money today I’d go for a convertible laptop. I’ve also dropped several thousand dollars on an OQO which fit in a pants or jacket (but not shirt) pocket. I loved it until the day it died.

    I still have hope that Intel’s new processor line will allow someone to develop a thin, light, and capable x86 tablet that can run Win7. Something with the form factor of a Streak with the Epic’s slide out keyboard. I’d advertise it to RIM customers who need to run corporate applications as well as access corporate email. One can dream.

    Reply

  4. Another Dave P

    08/17/2010 at 9:10 am

    This is probably a generational thing – I grew up with an 8 1/2 by 11 pad, and that’s what feels natural to me for recording/arranging/absorbing information. So, I’ve been bemused that no one has been talking about a 13.9″ tablet/slate (in a 1:1.29 format). Or, maybe that much touch screen has been deemed too expensive until the market builds.

    Reply

    • Fernando

      08/17/2010 at 9:51 am

      I like the 14-inchers. I used to own a Toshiba convertible that had a great sises screen for inking and reading, but it was too heavy. I would jump on a light slate that had that size.

      Reply

      • Sara

        08/17/2010 at 10:04 am

        I also like the large screen size (13.3 in on my T900), for when I’m inking, I often have other windows also open, and this gives me enough room to comfortably have many windows open and still write. Yes, I agree–a large size, but light. I expect we’ll have to wait a while for them to get light enough, though I do think the weight is well-distributed on the Fujitsu (so that it does not feel heavy).

        Reply

  5. Brian

    08/17/2010 at 12:08 pm

    I’m all for bigger sizes. I think first and foremost, a tablet should be a computer. Inking is always a must, but it should always be about performance and productivity, which I think is best with 12.1″ and up.

    Reply

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