So many screens

posted by Jeff | Monday, December 16, 2013, 10:35 PM | comments: 0

I mentioned on Facebook last Friday that I just scored a Dell Venue 8 Pro, which is an inexpensive little Windows 8.1 tablet that happens to have had some serious sale prices lately. It lists for $300, but has gone for as little as $100. For that price, I was compelled to buy one. I will write a review of it soon.

In any case, me the "I don't need a tablet" guy continues to have evolving opinions on the subject. I mentioned when I got the super cheap Kindle Fire HD that I totally understood small tablets. My experience to that point had been almost exclusively with the iPad (the "2" version then the "Retina" model). As I said then, I thought the Kindle UI was just completely terrible, but for the inexpensive price, and smaller size, it totally made sense to me.

Smaller tablets are great for straight consumption. They're also better for reading than full-size tablets. As lovely as the text is on a big tablet with lots of pixels, it gets heavy after awhile. They're OK for video in a pinch, and browsing through music to listen to. They're not terrible for Web browsing is a site is designed right. Above all, they're super portable.

Larger tablets are fantastic for video, and generally preferable for couch surfing or table-top viewing. The latter is three times as true with the Surface, because of the kickstand and keyboard covers. Text from the Web renders so cleanly (on both the iPad and the Surface 2). Basically they're great laptop substitutes for when you don't need to do any "real" work or do a lot of typing.

My laptop I tend to use now just for real work and for writing. I can kind of see why a lot of people are content to just use a tablet, though I'm endlessly annoyed at their insistence that everything has to be an application. The Web is the application, dammit.

And yes, there is a fourth screen: The phone. That screen has a lot going for it, not the least of which is that it's connected to the Internet no matter where you are. But the thing is, phones are great for text messages and some kinds of minor Web browsing, as well as some gaming, but they're not so great any real content consumption. Even Facebook is less than ideal at that size.

I think our connected devices try to be a lot of things, and at a basic level, it's true that they can all sort of do the same things. It's just that certain form factors are better than others for certain use cases. I'll concede that.

It really is my job to understand this stuff, but it's hard for me to put myself in the shoes of the "average consumer" because I'm not. I think a lot of people are content to have a phone and a laptop, and that makes a lot of sense to me.

For the record, I wish people would put the damn screens down and engage with their families, friends and coworkers that are right in front of them.


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