The Cornerplay: The most popular computing device has yet to be invented, the 15-inch tablet

By Jeffrey Yuwono ยท 37 replies
Aug 14, 2014
Post New Reply
  1. wastedkill

    wastedkill TS Evangelist Posts: 1,423   +350

    Jesus is it april 1st already? If not then someone doesnt own anything 15" as I can tell you now a 15"/17" tablet would be beyond stupid, tablets are meant for being small & easy to carry around whilst using them not for us too have to put it on a surface just so our tired hands can get a rest.

    I bet you anything the next article in 1-2 years will be "The Cornerplay: The most popular computing device has yet to be invented, the 40-inch laptop" then "The Cornerplay: The most popular computing device has yet to be invented, the 15-17 inch smartphone"
  2. It seems to me that the article assumes that a 15" tablet would be most optimal because most laptops sold come with a 15" screen size. But it doesn't really dig deep when it comes to WHY people buy 15" laptops.

    I did some research on buying a laptop recently and it struck me that if you're on a budget or you want a certain degree of good performance, especially when it comes to gaming, 15" is the way, sometimes the ONLY way, to go. For Windows based laptops, price jumps up by quite a lot when screen size goes down below 15" if you want to maintain performance.

    It's also worth considering - How many of those 15" laptops are actually desktop replacements that never leave the house? Laptops used to be horribly expensive, but 15" laptops are quite reasonable these days and most people don't need more power than what a 15" laptop can provide. It doesn't take up much room and you can move it from the office, to the kitchen and the living room as desired. But how many people actually bring these devices with them when going outside? I see plenty of people with 11" and 13" laptops during my commute, but rarely 15" laptops.

    But all that doesn't apply to tablets. It's like saying that because apples are round, so too should bananas. Have fun peeling a round banana :)

    The thing is, the way we use tablets is completely different from how we use laptops. We hold tablets closer to our face and we like to carry them around, even using them while standing up. You just can't compare the two and say because one size is the most popular, the other device should have the same size. We use our devices for different purposes. My phone fits in the pocket of my pants. My iPad Mini 2 fits in the pocket of my jacket. Great for longer trips. My iPad 4 sits on my desk as a secondary screen when using my desktop or serves as a laptop "replacement" when I want to consume media while being social with my wife. When I want to lean back and read though, my iPad mini comes back into service.

    A 15" tablet could possibly replace my regular iPad, but it couldn't replace my phone, mini or desktop. If I had a laptop, maybe it could replace that. But what I really would like a 15" tablet for is creating digital art. That's what intrigues me about the Surface Pro 3. There are some things where the bigger screen format could shine, just like there are some things where the small screen size comes in handy. Basically, it would be yet another device to add to my arsenal of devices, but it sure can't replace all of them. They need to invent a device that can resize itself for that to happen.
    Julio Franco and gbhall like this.
  3. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    The thrust of the suggestion was not that 15" is 'best', but that it is the lowest size at which it becomes viable as the only PC in regular use. That essentially means portability is not an overriding factor, useability is instead.

    Think about how the wireless internet first struck you (on a 7" tablet probably), as a release from a chain. You no longer had to go to a specific part of the house to browse the internet - you could do it in bed, on the lounger, in the garden. In that scenario, bigger is (by and large) better up to a point, and 15" possibly is that point.
  4. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,600   +1,887

    I wouldn't be a buyer of such a product. I've been tempted to swap my iPad 4 for iPad Air just for smaller size and weight, holding off till iPad Air 2 comes out this year. Going for a bigger one never crossed my mind.
  5. Maybe at some point in the future. A 15" tablet that packs enough power to replace a lap- or desktop would be too heavy as a tablet. It would basically be a glorified 15" iMac. I used to handle a lot books that are about 15" across the diagonal and roughly 2lbs. I now read the exact same books as PDFs on an iPad. My eyes would love the 15 inches, but my wrist would hate the 2 pounds. A Surface Pro 3 comes dangerously close to 2 pounds, yet can't offer the full size (it gets there if you remove the book margins though). But there's not enough power in the Surface Pro 3 to replace my primary PC device, a 4.8GHz I5-2500K with an OCed 670GTX. If they could pack that amount of power into a 15" tablet and keep the weight at no more than 2lbs, then sign me up for one of those bad boys! :D

    But if it had the power I need, I would still keep my iPad mini and I would still hook it up to my 3 monitors, because once you go multi display, it's darn near impossible to go back!
    Julio Franco and gbhall like this.
  6. BabyFaceLee

    BabyFaceLee TS Booster Posts: 117   +37

    The trouble with the assumptions made in this article is that they don't take full account of useability - not just physical size. If a 15" tablet were to be made I would have two main issues about using it. 1. How will the screen be protected / how will I carry it about? and 2. How will I actually use it on my lap or desk without it slipping about all the time?

    To protect a screen of this size I'd need to buy a reasonably robust case - probably one that includes a keyboard but then why wouldn't I buy a laptop in the first place? Assuming I needed a decent case that also acts as a stand (and keyboard) then what are the advantages of buying a 15" tablet over a thin 15" laptop? Onscreen keyboard's are fine for occasional and ad hoc use but are a complete PITA for anything text heavy.

    I suspect that tablets with such a large screen would be advertised as the new 'desktop replacement' but they could only really hope to fulfill that function if you bought the various accessories that converted them into a 'laptop replacement'.
    gbhall likes this.
  7. QWales

    QWales TS Rookie

    I think the game changer is actually going to be when you can decide what size you want to have your tablet at any given time.

    Flexi screen has been around for a while and we have been slow to utilise it or more likely, prices are still too high.

    The only decision you will have to make is how tall a stick you want to carry around with you, that is until some clever person manages to make it telescopic or flexible in some way.
  8. Dukenukemx

    Dukenukemx TS Member Posts: 71   +16

    It's safe to say that tablet growth and finally stopped. In what is a shock to the industry, the consumer doesn't need newer and better tablets. Once you have one, you don't need a better one. There's just no application that has that kind of hardware demand. Also, a laptop can do everything and more of a tablet, but a tablet can't do everything a laptop can do. Also the pricing of tablets is just wacky. A Surface Pro 3 is starting at $800 but many completing laptops with similar or better specs are closer to $400.

    And a bigger screen size is not what people want. 15inch makes sense for laptops because they can support the screen. On the other hand tablets require one hand to hold it. A sizable tablet can get tiring to hold in your hand, where a laptop just sits on your lap. You could put a tablet on your lap but you'll look like the hunchback of notre dame. If you get a stand for it, then it's a laptop without the keyboard.

    Anyway, point being tablets are in the decline and screen size isn't their issue. It's the software, both applications and OS. I don't know about you but working on a tablet is like working in a restricted environment . iOS is far worse at this than Android but Android hasn't done much in the past couple of years. It still feels like multitasking is better on Windows 3.1 than on Android 4.4. Don't even get me started with controlling applications. It's always a battle to try and keep an application from draining the battery of the device.
    gbhall likes this.
  9. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,600   +1,887

    I will vote for a a tablet with a stretchable display, that way you can make it any size or shape you want ;)
    Julio Franco and trgz like this.
  10. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,645   +3,268

    That may not be all that inconceivable considering propeller heads are already hard at work on bendable, flexible screens. Now all we need are more geniuses working on batteries, pcb's and components to to match the screens then you could have your wish. It could resemble something out of kiddies cartoons though. :)
  11. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,645   +3,268

    I like the authors warped sense of humour... $600 for a tablet, I'll just have to assume that's a typo.
  12. Jeffrey Yuwono

    Jeffrey Yuwono TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 30

    Haha, I didn't want to write something so boring that everyone would obviously agree with it, but perhaps I went too far.

    No prediction necessary -- I've outlined my thoughts on the future of computing via screen size here:

    Finally, I went out of my way to clarify that there are tablets designed for one handed use (I.e. small, meant to be carried everywhere) and tablets designed for two handed use. The former is the domain of the Nexus 7, iPad mini, Galaxy Tab S 8.4, etc. The latter is the domain of the original iPad, Surface, Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2, etc.

    The subject of the article is about the latter. That weight is the only thing holding tablets back from being 15-inches, which is far and away the most popular computing screen for America.

    What's interesting is that if you look at the former, mini tablets, you can see that size is already creeping upwards, from the Nexus 7 to iPad mini's 7.9 and now to Galaxy Tab S' 8.4 inches. The reason is that advances in manufacturing means display sizes can increase while weight stays the same or even decrease. For example, the Galaxy Tab S is just as portable as the Nexus 7 despite having a significantly larger screen size.

    The point here is that weight is what really determines portability, while display size is just about consumption. When you say "15/17 is beyond stupid," what you're really referring to is the weight you've come to associate with those display sizes.

    P.S. The iPad mini is actually quite heavy relative to its screen size. I predict that new version announced in the fall will be much lighter.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2014
  13. Jeffrey Yuwono

    Jeffrey Yuwono TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 30

    Thank you for a thoughtful comment! I didn't go deep into why 15-inches was so popular because The Verge article I linked to already did a decent job of it -- I summarized the main reason, which is that for people who want only one computing device 15-inches hits the sweet spot. It's the minimum screen size to achieve the kind of usability required in having only one computer.

    People may not lug 15-inch laptops outside because it's too heavy, but that doesn't change the fact that 1) it's an issue of weight, and new computers will get lighter over time, and 2) it's still the most popular screen size despite its weight disadvantage.

    Once you accept this premise and the data that proves it, the logical conclusion is that this is exactly where tablets and laptops can finally converge -- I.e. one device that you can use for general consumption and production. 1.5 pounds is light enough that weight would no longer be a factor; at least 15-inches display is what the market prefers. We're not there yet, but we will in a few more generations.

    It's true that for many of us who read TechSpot, we will want the best smartphone, the best tablet for one hand use, the best tablet for two hand use, the best laptop for light productivity and the best desktop PC for heavy productivity...

    ...just like how some will buy a DSLR to get the best camera, an iPod for the best music player, and an HTC One for the best smartphone...

    ...but for MOST people, what they want is a low cost device that's great for usability (15-inch display) and portable enough for casual consumption (1.5 pounds).
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2014
  14. Jeffrey Yuwono

    Jeffrey Yuwono TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 30

    I'm actually a fan of the Surface despite its many flaws -- its form factor answers many of your concerns. A kickstand does wonders. It's protected by a cover that doubles as a keyboard. For casually browsing the web, playing games, watching videos, a tablet is far superior to a laptop.

    15-inches sounds big, but just a decade ago everyone in business carried one. It's not too long as it's light enough. Weight is the key.
  15. Your assertion ignores a key marketing principle whereby consumers are known to select the "middle" option at a bias of 60% (20 choose small 20 choose large 60 choose medium). 15 inches is, and has been, the "middle" option from a price point for many years.
  16. I kind of disagree with this article. If we go to smaller HDTV's of 24" and below, we find what ? That they are not HDTV's, many have shonky resolutions, because they are in fact monitor displays, in a TV casing.
    It's fun to play dress up.
    And so thus we have many a 15" display, and a few 17". A standard for ease of mass production. For the size of screen, and for something to browse the web on, a cheap 15" can be had. But personally, the keyboards and track pads suck. I hate laptops. With a passion. I have one, but I know one day, I shall have the satisfaction, of making my own "Office Space" scene, in a field with a baseball bat.

    Now if I am going for a hefty 15 or 17 inches in my lap ... (she should be so lucky) I think I may as well have a 24" super thin, yet powerful i7 tablet, a bit like the iMac's. With a dock so I can plug in my keyboard and use it as a normal desktop. And I could happily I would assume with lack of keyboard section, carry it in a messenger bag to and from the office, and dock it at the desk. Don't see why not.
    But then you go a couple of articles down at Techspot and see the LG bendable display. A 24" rollable display, something you can slide into to keep it up....
  17. The author doesn't take into consideration the screen aspect ratio of said 15 inch device. The ATSC HD standard is a 16 by 9 aspect ratio, what would he propose, breaking standards for the sake of breaking standards?
  18. feedtheshark

    feedtheshark TS Rookie

    Exactly, people buy 15" laptops because that's what's there. The same way people buy Android phones, they can't afford an iPhone or the iPhone has too small a screen. It's not cos it's better, it's cos there's no option.

    12" is the optimal size. Everyone would have Surface Pro 3 type devices if they could afford them. Give technology a couple of years, prices to come down, specs to improve, battery life to improve, even Windows to move past Windows 8 and I reckon most people will have either 12" Windows tablets, or an iPad Pro 12. Want more, plug in your external monitor.
  19. The whole point of a tablet is portability. Once I get to 15 inches I might as well carry a laptop.
  20. A 15" version of the Dell Venue Pro 11 would be awesome, especially if they upgraded the Stylus with support like that on the Surface Pro 3. BTW... a 13" version is coming in October which I will get in the meantime.
  21. I agree. I personally find I would like to have a larger tablet for around the house that could be even mounted on the kitchen wall and display a calendar, other messages, Skype (ie. Windows 8) but be able to quickly be unmounted for other uses around the house.
    Julio Franco and at0mic_Mike like this.
  22. Points only apply to current generations and paradigms.

    The "whole point" of today's tablets is portability. And the "whole point" of yesterday's mobile phones was phone calls.

    Whole points change.
  23. Technically, the Surface Pro is very close to become this large size tablet (or "lablet").

    Meanwhile, although the article has valid points about the 15" size popularity for laptops, it seems to ignore the difference between the two computing devices. Laptops are more associated to work related computing where tablets are associated with casual computing.

    This difference is the key. I doubt a 15" tablet would sell like hot cakes. It cannot be easily transported and it would be a lot more expensive.

    There's a reason why the most successful sizes are between 7" and 10". Price being an important one.
  24. Mugsy

    Mugsy TS Guru Posts: 401   +17

    The future of portable computing isn't a huge physical machine that needs a handle to transport like luggage.

    If you want a small device with a big screen, there will be two options: 1) a "tube" shaped device with roll-up touch screen that fits in you pocket (but is still too long), and 2) eventually, a small device that PROJECTS a large touch-screen on any flat surface (they already make virtual laser-projected keyboards.)

Similar Topics

Add New Comment

You need to be a member to leave a comment. Join thousands of tech enthusiasts and participate.
TechSpot Account You may also...