Would you use a mid-sized tablet in lieu of a smartphone?

Taylor Martin
 from  Concord, NC
| July 23, 2012

Earlier this month, I asked how many devices it takes everyone to get the job done. The question was originally asked by Google's own Tim Bray, who was asking because it seems we have so many different devices that overlap one another that many of us unnecessarily carry too many devices. Bray claims he carries a 15-inch (or larger) laptop, a 7-inch tablet and a standard-sized smartphone each and every day.

My arsenal of devices is admittedly more redundant than most, or more than it should be. I carry a MacBook At 13.3" (mid-2011), a new iPad, a Nexus 7, a Samsung Galaxy Nexus, an HTC One X and an iPhone 4S with me almost everywhere I go. Rather than fumbling these devices, though, I've simply grown accustomed to carrying a messenger bag with me every day to most the places I visit. I rarely leave the house without the bag packed fully packed.

But I've often thought of downsizing a bit, especially after seeing the picture of the contents of Steve Wozniak's bag. While the contents of Woz's 50-pound travel bag is beautiful enough to make any self-acclaimed geek tear up, it makes you think of the possible repercussions of carrying so much with you all the time. There's the weight and the associated strain on your back and neck muscles. And what about potentially higher radiation emission levels? The FCC has us believe the radiation emission from one device is safe and won't give anyone brain cancer. But what about two, three, four or even more that are always on and on your person? And, finally, there's a huge potential for theft. (But I'm sure that's the least of Woz's worries.)

The question I often get asked is: "Why have so many devices if the majority of them do the exact same thing?"

Like I explained in that very article, however, there is a justification for each and every item in the bag – each item has a specific purpose. My iPhone is for taking pictures and sharing those pictures to social networks. It's also on my personal line, so I do much of my communicating with friends and family through it. The One X is currently my daily driver smartphone, which I use for basically everything else: keeping my tasks and agenda straight, taking notes, Google Voice, etc. The Galaxy Nexus I'm carrying is a backup device that I'm waiting to use on StraightTalk once my Verizon contract runs out. The Nexus 7, which I will admit surprised me (I planned on leaving it at home all the time after finishing the review), has become my entertainment device. The iPad is my writing machine – 90 percent of the time, I use it to write my articles and research. And the MacBook is here to finish the ordeal: proofread, hyperlink, add pictures and publish.

But since answering Bray's question (and following Evan's question from last night), there is serious potential for one device to take on the role of another and downsize a bit. I have been thinking about how I could legitimately use the Nexus 7 in lieu of one of my smartphones – of course, only if it had its own data connection.

I originally didn't like the 7-inch form factor. Admittedly, it's still a bit awkward to use at times; the interface and software can be a bit bipolar. But the Nexus 7 is the first 7-inch tablet that's well-rounded and powerful enough to really toss 7-inchers into a new category. The Nexus 7 has become my mobile gaming device of choice, my preferred method of reading news in the evening, my choice device for watching Netflix (from anything other than the television) and, thanks to Google Now, a very capable day planner and assistant.

I find myself picking up the Nexus 7 instead of one of my smartphones to quickly Google search something. And when I'm out and about, I constantly switch on the hotspot capability on my One X, to use the Nexus 7 over the One X or iPhone. I'm almost positive that if a 4G Nexus 7 were to come about, I would toss my AT&T SIM card in it and forget about carrying a second smartphone.

This shouldn't be all that surprising. After just a few days – hours even – with the 5.3-inch Samsung Galaxy Note, I was hooked on the larger display. The Nexus 7 is simply more of that. Sure, it would be a pain to carry everywhere – it doesn't exactly fit in the pocket of my pants or shorts. But I think I could find a way to comfortably take it with me everywhere.

What say you, ladies and gents? Would you ever be inclined to trade in your ol' trusty smartphone for a mid-sized tablet? Lest we forget you could answer calls via wired headset or Bluetooth. Or does the pocketability of a smartphone make it irreplaceable for you?

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