What is the fascination we seem to have with 10in tablets? I know the answer is mostly likely “everyone’s playing catch up with Apple” but manufacturers seem to missing a very important point here: 10in takes a lot of the “mobile” out of “mobile computing”.
By the time you’re lugging around something with 10in of touchscreen real-estate on it, my thoughts are that you might as well add a keyboard and just call it a laptop – after all, you’re going to get more functionality that way and, realistically, it’s not that much heavier. (The MSI Wind, for example, was only 250g heavier than the iPad). But no, in the current consumer climate if you can’t drag your fingers over it, it’s just not worth having.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I like tablets as much as a hillbilly likes OxyContin, but I’m much more a fan of the 7in form factor. Small enough for a back pocket, big enough to provide a lot of screen and not so big that repurposed phone apps look like a YouTube clip on a 40in TV. You could even drag one around without a bag and without looking like someone taking their tablet for a walk. (“What, this? Oh it’s just a tablet PC – very useful. Here, let me show you Angry Birds!”)
As far as I’m concerned, 7in works for browsing, gaming, eBook reading (assuming you don’t have a dedicated eReader) and with a 16:9 aspect ratio it’s great for video on the go. And you’re sucking a little bit less battery than a 10in monster will. It all adds up.
But as consumers we seem to be stuck on the same kind of big is better mentality that has resulted in loungerooms around the country being populated with monolith-sized slabs of TV screen regardless of the size of the room around them.
It’s this mindset that transformed the netbook from a slimline ultraportable to basically a laptop with a different name. Back in 2008 the average netbook was 1.3kg with a 9in screen. But the end of 2009, 12in was the default.
Mobile phones aren’t much better – a decade ago, Zoolander made jokes about how hilariously small phones were becoming (it also made jokes about Zip Discs but we can ignore that). Nowdays, 4in minimum or you might as well be using two tin cans and a piece of string to communicate.
But don’t panic dear reader – I’m just venting. I’m not delusional enough to think that we’ll ever see a really viable crop of 7in tablets that take the world by storm. No, I realise I’ve already lost this one – 10.1in is now the new standard size for the tablet. Or at least it will be until Apple release a 7in iPad Mini and the world commends them on their genius and market-leading innovation. Ahem.