7-inch tablets are just awkward to use

Taylor Martin
 from  Concord, NC
| Published: June 25, 2012

I love tablets. Maybe a little too much. Maybe more than anyone should. No less, I love them and for the better part of three years, I have been consumed by them and by finding a legitimate way to integrate one – or several – in my life.

After upwards of 20 different tablets and a myriad of different software combinations, I found the perfect setup. I found the perfect combination of devices, services and applications that make using a tablet worthwhile and, actually, very efficient. In fact, I would go as far to say I am significantly more productive now than I was before integrating a tablet in my life. And just last week, I learned that I may be saving quite a bit of money each year on my power bill by putting more of my daily workload on a tablet instead of charging a MacBook two or three times each day.

Not all tablets are alike, however. They come in an array of sizes with various software. And, depending on how you use them, some combinations are more useful than others.

The majority of modern tablets measure right around the 10-inch diagonal sweet spot. All of the most popular Android tablets sport 10.1-inch displays, the iPad is 9.7-inches diagonally and Microsoft's upcoming crop of Surface tablets will feature displays that measure 10.6-inches. There are several smaller sizes, too, such as the 8.9 form factor many tablet makers have experimented with. Archos and Samsung have also created 5-inch tablets.

The other popular tablet size that seems to be another so-called "sweet spot" is the 7-inch form factor. Samsung first made the Galaxy Tab in 2010, which came equipped with a 7-inch screen. (The lesser-known Archos 7-inch tablet actually predated the Galaxy Tab.) Sammy also created a successor to the original Galaxy Tab. And Amazon debuted the 7-inch Kindle Fire just last November to an unexpected level of interest and success.

But those are only the existing ones. There are two highly-rumored 7-inch tablets believed to be on their way. First is the Google Nexus 7 tablet made by none other than ASUS, which is believed to be revealed this Wednesday. And the other is the smaller, 7-inch iPad rumored to release sometime this year to help combat the likes of the Kindle Fire and other smaller tabs. (I still have trouble believing the smaller iPad rumors, even if Steve Jobs dismissive comments on 7-inch tablets were focused strictly on the "current crop" of 7-inch tablets in 2010.)

Originally, I liked the idea of a mid-sized tablet. I felt the 10-inch form factor was best for lounging around on the couch with and leaving at home, while a 7-inch tablet could easily fit in a jacket pocket and would be much more portable. But, over time, I have gotten used to using larger slates and using the on-screen keyboard to type the majority of my articles on. It has come naturally. All the while, the 7-inch form factor has only become more awkward. There doesn't seem to be a nice balance between resolution and screen size (10-inch displays are coming in 1080p and higher resolutions while 7-inch displays remain at WXGA or 720p); the same tech gets crammed in a smaller frame, meaning only battery life takes a hit; and neither typing in landscape or portrait is comfortable.

To date, I have owned three different 7-inch slabs. The most notable of the three are the Kindle Fire and the original Galaxy Tab. I have also used several others in passing, such as the 7-inch Galaxy Tab 2. I have done everything imaginable to try and incorporate a smaller tablet in my life, but there just isn't a place for one. They're alright for one-handed use, especially if you're a hardcore reader. But they're not all they great for productivity and web browsing isn't any more comfortable on a 7-inch tablet as it was on the 5.3-inch Samsung Galaxy Note.

As far as I'm concerned, a 7-inch tablet is to a netbook as a 10-inch slab is to an ultrabook. Aside from a lower price point, there are next to no benefits to the smaller form factor. And the more I see and hear of these 7-inch slates, the less I want anything to do with them.

I will admit that while I am growing to dislike the 7-inch form factor, the Nexus 7 is still pretty intriguing, solely for the quad-core processor and a $199 price tag. It may be difficult for me to pass up, simply out of curiosity. But I'm almost positive that I won't hold on to it long. I only kept the Amazon Kindle Fire for as long as I did because resale value plummeted just weeks after launch and I couldn't find a buyer. After collecting dust for over six months, I decided to sell it to a friend for a bargain last week.

I understand, however, that other people's preferences differ. I'm sure there are some of you out there who prefer the 7-inch form factor. Tell me, ladies and gents. Are there any of you out there who can't wait for a 7-inch iPad or the Nexus 7? Do you feel the 7-inch form is better suited for a tablet than a 10-inch form factor? Or, like me, do you prefer a larger tablet?