Whats wrong with “Phablet”?

I read a lot of Tech news. Web sites, Twitter, blogs, RSS feeds, podcasts, video. Whatever the format, as long as the subject is tech, the information is solid and the writer/speaker is tolerable I will likely give it a try.  Gotta  stay up to date.

One thing i have noted in much of the information i consume is that many tech journalist don’t like the term “Phablet”. Being a amalgamation of the word Phone and Tablet and used to describe a device that is oversized for the average smart-phone and smaller than the typical tablet. These devices are typically somewhere between 5 and 7 inches in size. Its still a phone, with the ability to send and receive calls but large enough to be a serviceable production device. At this size, its certainly a functional kindle reader and makes browsing the web on your “phone” a much better experience. To me the term Phablet perfectly captures the essence of device.

Ive had my own Phablet for a several weeks now and i wanted to share some thoughts on my initial experience.

My Nokia Lumia 1520 arrived the day before Thanksgiving and it has been my constant companion since that time. Response to my showing it around has ranged from my wife “Oh Rick, thats ridiculous” to “Oh wow, that is so cool” from my son. I got the yellow variant of this device and it is a really stunning piece of hardware. My own reaction upon opening the box was a wide eyed “ohhhh”. Then I picked it up and went “Uh-Oh”! Its a BIG phone. The key fact you typically hear about the device is its 6 inch screen. Well the screen is 6 inches.  The dimensions including the bezel are 6 and 6/16 inches and a 1/16 shy of 3 and 1/2 inches wide. Other key statistics include the 1080p screen, 16 Gig of storage (about 13.5 free), a 20 mega pixel camera, GDR3 for Windows Phone 8 OS and a quad core processor. These components end up being a mixed bag as a whole package. The size, screen and camera definitely up the game over the flagship Lumia 920 while the storage and, oddly, the processor seem a step back.

My Experience
As far as the size , let me say it rapidly becomes a non-issue. You end up having to make a few accommodations but once you make a few adjustments you don’t think about going back. The device still fits in my inside or outside  suit jacket breast pocket. It fits in the front or rear jean pocket (just don’t sit with it!). My windshield mount is open to the max but it works. And now when I pick up my wifes 920 I wonder how I ever got by with it!

The screen is awesome. It brings to mind my HD TV or a high grade laptop. Its that good. Combined with the 20 mega pixel camera my use of the device for pictures and video is way up. Other activities such as reading on the Kindle app, viewing web pages, YouTube (using Metrotube so there Google!) and video podcasts is also on the increase. I would often grab my 10 inch Lenovo Tab2 for these activities around the house but now I’m much more likely to just initiate the activity on the 1520.

As bad as I want this device to be a perfect Pocket PC (whatever happened to that term?) there are some nagging issues. First Nokia/Microsoft/The Carriers decided to cut the memory to 16 G. I can only think this was a cost savings measure. They did add a memory card slot for expandability but until Windows Phone allows the loading of apps to external memory this is of limited use. I haven’t run onto an issue yet but i find myself  checking available space periodically to make sure i’m not getting close to capacity.

Next and most vexing is a performance/response issue that manifests itself during navigation. There are regular occasions where as I intend to scroll, that an app gets launched in error. The screen or OS detects a tap rather than scroll on too regular a basis. I understand a fix is on the way but this is a irritating issue!

That said, when I now pick up my wifes 920 or worse, see my friends with their iPhones I smirk at the toyish nature of their tiny devices. I can’t imagine going back.

Its interesting to see the transition of devices from the standard 15 inch, 8 pound laptops of just a few years ago to the 6 inch phablet smartphones, 8 inch tablet PC’s, 10 inch slate pc’s and 12 inch ultrabooks. It seems we are still finding that sweet spot for use and preference that is so specific to the user and the use case. Mobility is at the center of this movement but consumption vs. production is the hinge point on functional size. I’ll be writing about a pilot we are doing with Dell using their 8 inch Venue Pro’s with our physicians soon and taking a closer look at that issue. Until then, I’ll be sporting my yellow 6 inch Nokia 1520 in one hand, my 8 inch Dell venue in the other and my 10.5 inch Surface in my messenger bag.

So much computing, so little time!


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