Ever since the rumors stated the iTablet would have a ten-inch screen, I’ve been uneasy about that possibility.
In one of those rumors, it was asserted that Apple was going with ten inches due to a decree by Steve Jobs himself that anything less was too small.
The more I thought about that, the more nonsensical it became.
First of all, Steve Jobs has seen what the iPhone has done to the Internet.
Second of all, what we think about as a “proper” screen size is about to undergo a revolution.
First, let me argue why seven inches is an ideal size. It was pointed out in a show and tell YouTube video by Steve “Chippy” Paine in his lengthy demonstration of the new nine-inch screen Archos 9 mini-tablet.
At about 16:50 in [update: direct link to that portion of the video], he discusses the one-handedness of the Archos 9. Here are screensnaps:
Holding it in one hand, landscape mode, puts strain on the wrist muscles.
Holding it at the bottom is awkward for the hand.
In portrait mode, the hand must stretch past its natural limits.
How a hand comfortably falls opens.
What suits the hand better is a device with a seven-inch screen. This is the Smart Q7 in the screensnap (a device Chippy adventurously ordered direct from China and which completely dropped dead on him several weeks thereafter!).
7.48″ x 4.33″ x 0.629″ – 23 ounces
10.07″ x 5.275″ x 0.67″ – 28.2 ounces
7.9″ x 4.7″ x 0.94″ – 17 ounces
7.87″ x 4.72″ x 0.57″ – 13.75 ounces
Sony Reader Touch Edition:
6.9″ x 4.8″ x 0.4″ – 10.1 ounces
Note that the Smart Q7 has a rounded, not flat, back, thus at its thickest point it is thicker than the Archos 9.
Look at the differences in weight! To be fair to the Archos 7, that weight is with a conventional hard drive, which adds more weight. The Smart Q7 is all Flash solid-state storage.
And the Archos 9 is simply cursed from the start because it’s using Windows 7, with its antique user interface that mandates things such as a pointing tool and click buttons. It also has a hard drive.
Of the four color devices, the Camangi is the lightest. The Barnes & Noble Nook, in comparision, is twelve ounces and I found it too heavy to hold comfortably for an extended period of time.
I included the Sony Reader Touch Edition for a reason. It is actually just about the ideal size for a mini-tablet. A seven-inch touchscreen could easily with within those dimensions with enough of a frame to hold comfortably. (Note that although it has ideal dimensions, I’m not a fan of its squarish styling. I prefer the friendlier rounded corners of the original Sony 500.)
Weight and handheld-friendliness are critical factors.
So, ideally, nothing more than a seven-inch screen for ideal grip, weight, and portability. As someone on Twitter stated, it has to be small enough to be dropped into a purse to take along (which, by the way, people are doing with the Sony Reader Touch Edition).
Now, what about that screen size?
Consider the impact the iPhone has had on the Internet. It’s been like no other device in tech history. Instead of making people slog through web pages designed for desktop-sized screens, many sites created special iPhone sites that were finger-friendly.
The same thing is going to happen with the iTablet — because touch is going to change everything.
The current paradigm of web design is doomed. It was fashioned around a keyboard, pointing device, and distant vertical screen configuration. Because that was the tool most people had to access it.
With an iTablet, a shift will take place where screen orientation and finger-friendliness will become the overriding factors for designing a website.
This blog template you’re seeing is obsolete. Instead of vertical scrolling, templates will be designed for a “page”-like screen. Instead of scrolling vertically to continue reading, everyone will finger swipe or tap to the next screen “page.”
Designers will naturally build in white space borders so typefaces can be enlarged for easier reading without disrupting the overall design:
Reading the Internet will begin to be an actual pleasure instead of its current, frustrating, inhuman torment.
Everything that you are currently seeing on the Internet will dramatically and drastically change. For the better.
And it will all start with the iTablet.
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