The movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory includes a character named Veruca Salt, who is spoiled rotten. She wants everything and she wants it now. But before you start judging Veruca consider this: A huge percentage of our population is a Veruca Salt. Even you. You’ve probably become accustomed to satisfying your every need almost immediately. Gluten free, locally farmed, organically grown — all easily satisfied. Not happy with your gadget? Return it for a refund. This requirement for easy gratification is a pickle for manufacturers. They need to offer a plethora of choices to please all the Veruca Salts in the world.
Tech companies are well aware of this, which is why they offer a zillion different versions of devices in myriad shapes and sizes. In the last few years, a new mobile device has popped up called the phablet — a cross between a (smart) phone and a tablet. Hence the weird name. But how do you know which device is best for you? Let’s explore…
All three devices have similar functions. The biggest difference is the size of the device, and thus the size of the screen. The basic issue is portability versus usability. You can’t have both…or can you?
Smartphones are the smallest of the three, with a screen in the 3- to 5-inch range. They are super portable, have pretty good battery life and are great for taking pictures, video and everything on the go. A smartphone fits easily in your purse or pocket.
But with portability, you sacrifice screen size. The device is great for taking video and pictures, but not for watching them. Are you a shooter or a viewer? Also, the keyboard is pretty small for adult-sized fingers. While you can use the voice-activated typing, unless you want your text to say something like “be home run tickles midgets,” you’re likely to stick to thumbs on the smartphone. If you use your phone more for email and text, but aren’t a great thumber, the smartphone might be frustrating as your main device.
Tablets are the largest of the three devices, with screens in the 7- to 11-inch range. They are compact compared to laptops, but large compared to smartphones. With such a large screen, their best use is for reading, watching movies/TV/videos, surfing the net, making video phone calls and writing emails, texts as well as playing on gaming apps. While watching TV, most people lie down and rest the table on their belly, giving birth to the term “bellyvision.”
So, does bigger equal better? A bigger screen is great for watching your favorite show on Netflix. Or viewing the latest Fail video on YouTube. But what if you’re the person shooting video or pictures? Then bigger is not better as it’s awkward to hold up your iPad to take pictures and video of your kids.
Phablets are a phab-ulous choice for some. (I had to do that). They represent the middle ground with screens in the 5- to 7-inch range. They are for the Goldilocks in all of us. If the tablet is too big and the smartphone is too small, then chances are that the phablet is “just right.” A phablet is perfect if you’re on the go, but also married to your device at work and home. You want to be able to watch videos, and also take video. Phablet users send tons of email and text, but like a bigger keyboard. They make tons of phone calls and don’t mind the slightly larger size. The phablet is the ultimate mobile compromise. Other than a silly sounding name, the only downside is you can’t carry it comfortably in your pocket. Murse anyone?
So maybe in this case it’s OK to embrace your inner Veruca Salt — tech companies have you covered. Personally, I like the idea of a phablet. You’ll love watching video on it and no one will laugh at you when you hold it up to take video of your child at the school play. OK, I still might do that. C’mon people, just watch the moment as it’s happening.
Image credits: Jonathan Grossman