Seven-Inch Tablets Are Just Plain Wrong

There have been a lot of rumors and rampant speculation about the possibility of Apple shipping a seven-inch version of the iPad. We ((that is everyone not at Apple in the super secret iPad division)) know nothing, except that Samsung (with the Samsung Galaxy Tab) is going with seven-inches and various other Android based tablets seem destined to be the same size.

This small size sounds great if you think about it, surely it will be lighter and more portable. Seven inches is a huge difference though, you lose almost 3 inches off the iPad size and for what? Well you get a smaller device that still doesn’t fit in your pocket and doesn’t have the screen real estate to be really great.

The problem isn’t that tap zones become much smaller, the problem is the onscreen keyboards get much smaller. I can’t type on the iPad keyboard in it’s portrait orientation, it is too small to try and touch type, and far too large to comfortably thumb type. That leaves an awkward and slow hunt and peck method of typing portrait orientation. Everything changes though in landscape orientation, all of a sudden I get a large keyboard that I can touch type with, using about 8 fingers (still too small for pinkies). The iPad keyboard in landscape view is truly the best soft-keyboard I have ever used, and it is quite usable at that.

A seven-inch tablet though, well that would be a massively smaller keyboard in landscape orientation. So much so that I would guess it would be faster thumb typing in the portrait view than it would be trying to cram 3 fingers on the landscape keyboard. Now this of course is pure speculation on my part as I have yet to use a tablet with a seven-inch screen, but here are some things I do know for sure:

  • From the edge of the furthest keys my MacBook Pro keyboard is about 10.75” long.
  • From the edge of the furthest keys on the iPad (landscape) it is about 7.75” long.
  • The Samsung Galaxy Tab looks to be 7.48” long and assuming 0.5” for a bezel that leaves only 6.48” for the keyboard (Source)
  • The a 6.5” keyboard is only 0.6” wider than the iPad keyboard in Portrait

At seven-inches then, the scale of the device to the size of a normal adult hand is just wrong. With a seven inch screen it will be far from comfortable to type on. Just take a look at this picture from Endgadget and tell me that you think that keyboard is big enough to type with both hands? In fact I bet you will run into the same problems that you would with the iPads portrait keyboard – you just won’t want to use it.

Everybody who doesn’t have an iPad squawks that iPads are for content consumption only, not for creation, often implying: you silly goose. Everybody who owns an iPad knows that this line of thinking is a load of crap. Yet it would seem these companies ((Samsung, Dell, possibly RIM)) making seven inch tablets don’t own an iPad because they are making devices sized for content consumption only – when there is a lot of people using iPads for content creation instead. ((Though in fairness content consumption still rules the roost for now.))

A seven inch tablet is not for content creation any more than an iPhone is – sure it’s possible, but only if you are a masochist. Q: Why would you limit your device from the start by making it too small? A: Because you bought into the hype that the iPad is a Kindle competitor, not a netbook killer.