Mid-sized tablets need 1080p displays, too

Taylor Martin
 from  Concord, NC
| January 21, 2013

The modern tablet boom started with the 9.7-inch iPad and arsenal of 10.1-inch Android tablets. In late 2010, however, tablet manufacturers began to deviate from the 10-inch standard and have since experimented with all sizes on both sides of the fence, stretching all the way down from 5-inches to a staggering 27-inches.

Tablets of all sizes have found their way into and out of my life. I first started with a 5-inch tablet in 2009 made by Archos and have owned (or used) almost every possible size up to 10.1-inches. And it seems as if after a few months with a new tablet, regardless of size, I lose focus and begin leaving it on my desk to die more and more often.

I first hated basically all tablets smaller than 9.7-inches. I had a handful of 10-inch tablets that I used and loved, like all versions of the iPad, two different Transformer models by ASUS, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and several others. And I had tried much smaller tablets only to find I wasn't a fan.

Some time with the Nexus 7 proved to me that there was a market for a smaller tablet, and that they weren't as unwieldy and awkward to use as the first run of 7-inch tabs. However, my Nexus 7, which I used to use on a daily basis for a multitude of things, has been dead for the last two months. On the other hand, my iPad (third-gen), which I find too large and to heavy to take everywhere with me still gets some use, but mostly sits on my desk to watch things like analytics in real time, Twitter, play music and work as a second display.

My overall tablet usage has almost completely stopped – at least comparatively – since switching to the Samsung Galaxy Note II. But I feel as if there were a medium, a perfect balance between a 10-inch tablet with a super high-resolution display and a much more portable tablet with a noticeably sub-par display, I might use it more.

The iPad mini, for example, is a nice size. Despite my initial impressions following the iPad mini announcement, the size of the mini isn't all that bad. It's super thin and packs a punch. And the ultra thin bezel on the sides doesn't bother me as much as I imagined it would. But the display arguably ruins my case for buying one.

The same point stands for the recently rumored Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0. Alleged specifications are nothing to scoff at: either 16GB or 32GB of inbuilt storage with a microSD card slot, 2GB RAM, a 1.6-GHz quad-core processor, a 5-megapixel rear camera, 1.3-megapixel front-facing shooter and, of course, an 8-inch display. The problem, however, is that this 8-inch display features a much lower resolution (1,280 by 800 pixels) than even my 5-inch smartphone. That puts the density around a meager 189 pixels per inch.

The latest two generations of the full-sized iPad, for example, features a 9.7-inch display with 2,048 by 1,536 pixels, or 264ppi. The Nexus 10 (also made by Samsung) features a 10.055-inch display with 2,560 by 1,600 pixels, or about 300ppi. The Galaxy Note II has a 5.5-inch display with a resolution of 1,280 by 720 pixels for 267ppi. And the DROID DNA has a 5-inch display with 1,920 by 1,080 pixels for a pixel per inch count of 443.

I don't know about you guys and gals, but for me, tablets are primarily used for multimedia. I use them for playing games, browsing the Web, watching movies and dozens of other activities that require staring at the display. And this mid-sized section of the tablet market has been neglected in terms of respectable display density. Everything looks jagged, fuzzy and pixelated.

I would love to explore the 7.9-inch to 8.9-inch tablet realm. Honestly, I would trade in my Galaxy Note II for a smaller phone in favor of a connected 8-inch Galaxy Note tablet. But I'm a stickler for gorgeous displays, and in this nook of the tablet market, there are none.

Truly, it can't be that difficult. If there are 5-inch devices with 1080p displays and 10-inch tablets with a million more pixels than that, why can't we have at least 1080p in a mid-sized tablet?

Where do you stand, folks? Do you see the need in a mid-sized tablet? Or would you rather stick with your 7-inch or 10-inch model? Is display density the only thing keeping you from exploring the 8-inch tablet sector? Sound off below and vote in our poll for your ideal tablet size!