What is the largest a tablet should be?

Taylor Martin
 from  Concord, NC
| December 8, 2011

Tablets are all the rage this year. Since Apple introduced the first modern tablet (not one of those old clunky Windows Tablets), people have been intrigued with the possibilities of such awkward yet functional devices. Some have scoffed at the idea since day one, saying there is no room nor need for a blown-up smartphone. But even they will pounce on a deal, if they price is right. Whether you use yours for gaming, running your business or catching up on the news in the evening from the couch, there are endless uses for the ultra portable tablets of 2011.

Much like with smartphones, there has been a great debate about the size of tablets. Instead of the age-old argument that 5-inch phones and up are too big, the argument has been that 7-inch tablets and below are too small. Even the late Steve Jobs stated that a 7-inch tablet "is useless unless you include sandpaper so users can sand their fingers down to a quarter of their size," in regards to competing tablets at the time, like the original Galaxy Tab and Dell Streak 7.

Personally, I don't mind smaller tablets. In fact, after buying my third, I've come to prefer 7-inch tabs, especially while on the move since I can slip my Kindle Fire in my coat pocket with relative ease. That said, when it comes to heavy lifting or any intensive work, I prefer using the larger Galaxy Tab 10.1. (Hello, my name is Taylor and I'm addicted to tablets.)

Soon, though, the debate about tablet size will make a turn in the other direction: how big is too big when it comes to tablets?

(I think this one may take the cake.)

To date, most tablets have existed between 7- and 10.1-inches; in between, there has been the 9.7-inch Apple iPad, and the 8.9-inch G-Slate (Optimus Pad) and Galaxy Tab. Most of us likely assumed that since 10.1-inches has become the most common tablet size for Android OEMs, that this would probably be the largest tablet we would see. (Or, like me, you just never thought about it before.) It does seem to be the most logical and appropriate size, right? Maybe not.

The rumor mill today suggests that Samsung is prepping an 11.6-inch tablet equipped with a super high resolution (2560 by 1600 pixels). It's worth nothing, though, that this wouldn't be the largest tablet to date. There are other, lesser-known tablets with larger displays, like the ASUS Eee Slate B121 and Eee Slate EP121 – a pair of Windows 7 tablets fitted with 12.1-inch (WXGA) displays.

It makes sense to argue that there should be a minimum size requirement for a tablet. At a certain size, the device should no longer be considered a tablet, but would then be a smartphone. On the other side of that argument, when it comes to maximum size, it's a little more open-ended and more about preference than anything. Would a 17-inch Galaxy Tab be illogical? Not at all. It might not be for everyone, but neither are 17-inch laptops.

Of course, at the point a device is no longer portable (as pictured above), the device likely shouldn't be considered a tablet either, but simply a touchscreen television (or tabletop if laid horizontally). I think between 7- and 17-inches is a nice range of tablet sizes that would appeal to everyone. Then again, 17-inches begs the question of durability – without a keyboard or "bottom half" to protect the fragile display, there is a lot of room for accidental damage. Maybe this is where dual-screen tablets could come into play?

To be honest, I've never once thought a 10.1-inch tablet was too small, but I might enjoy a larger tablet. A 13-inch slate might be perfect. I've grown to love my 13.3-inch MacBook Air as it is just big enough (just nearly too small, though) to get by. For a tablet, three extra inches in display space would be phenomenal and as a plus could add some extra space for more battery (which might not make a difference, after all, with three extra inches of display to power). I welcome larger tablets and hope to see other OEMs, like ASUS (a 13-inch Transformer Prime, please?), dabble on the idea in the near future.

What are your thoughts? Is 11.6-inches the largest manufacturers should go? Or would you like to see a 13-inch tab or larger? What is the largest a tablet should be?

Image via YouTube