Tech Devices: The Big vs. The Small


With so many portable technology devices being literally thrown at us by power-hungry vendors, one could easily become overwhelmed–wondering what all this means in the grand scheme of life.  While the answer most probably is “very little,” I did see some interesting figures in the Feb. 13  issue of InformationWeek

The publication’s 2011 Mobile Device Managment and Security Survey reveals that among the 323 business tech pros polled, a whopping 72 percent answered “10 percent or less” to the question: What percentage of your employees use tablets for business?  In the same issue, the publication’s 2012 Outlook Survey of 605 business tech pros had 23 percent agreeing that tablets would be a “nonevent” for them, while another 20 percent “had no idea” what their tablet policy should be. 

Confusion and uncertainty, it is apparent, are the watchwords of the day when it comes to tablets.  In fact, I have seen several tech analysts predicting that the smartphone–not the tablet–will be the dominant technology of the future.  So which will we choose, on balance? 

When I was just a wee lad, I can remember that the big news was the transistor–a new device that would enable bulky portable radios to become tiny devices that could fit in your shirt pocket, right next to your pen holder.  That was cool, until the 1970s hit and we all wanted to take BIG music with us anywhere–and that meant BIG devices–aka boom boxes.  That was cool, too, until we realized that we could get big sound (on a personal level) through stereo headphones attached to our now smaller and more convenient to carry devices. 

So it has gone.  First the big portable was fashionable, then the small, then the big again, then the small again.  So what was the critical factor?  Quite simply, what determined the most popular form factor was how “cool” that factor was deemed to be at the time. 

Coming back to our modern portable devices with screens, we now have to consider the big versus the small in screen sizes.  Small devices with tiny screens are cool–we can also fit them in a shirt pocket or the drink holder on a backpack.  But tiny screens are hard to read, and streaming video–whether business or entertainment or both–is not impressive at a very small size.  That’s why home theater and humongous wide-screen televisions are so popular. 

My gut tells me that tablets, with their larger, easier to read displays, will be more popular with most of us over 40 who need reading glasses to see anything tiny clearly.  Smaller smartphone devices, on the other hand, will score big with younger, sharper-eyed users who are OK watching a big screen epic on a postage stamp display.  They will get their comeuppance, however, when their eyes eventually go south with the passage of time.  Or maybe some new form of eye surgery will make this point moot. 

In any case, tablets and smaller devices are both cool, but when it comes to choosing one for business, the, uh, eyes have it!


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