To Tab or Not To Tab

Posted Aug 29, 2012 at 12:38 pm in Threads > Entertainment

Let’s just get straight to it: today’s Android devices are powerhouses. Their mobile computing power is exceptional, and if you’d asked me two or three years ago if I’d be able to do half the things on my Android devices I’m able to today, I’d have said it was completely infeasible.

Today, we have streaming capabilities from multiple high-definition sources (including high-definition output to larger screen devices in some cases), insane 3D graphics and the computational power behind them to make jaw-dropping games like Dead Trigger, Shadowgun, Dark Meadow, and many other stunning games I think many of us Android old-timers only dreamed about.

Today, we have a choice. Android devices exist in several sizes and forms. When I bought my latest phone – an LG/T-Mobile G2x (Optimus 2x for you international types) – a little over a year ago, the primary selling point for me was the raw power it afforded me in both gaming and entertainment possibilities. When the Asus EEE Transformer (TF101) came out, I had just started a new job which involved an hour long bus ride each way, and I’d discovered that using my phone for entertainment provided a sub-optimal experience. Receiving a text message or IM would interrupt my current activity, and resuming the activity wasn’t always the smoothest operation. So I bought the Transformer so I could multi-task more efficiently.

This lasted for a few months, but lately, I’ve found that while I still carry my tablet with me everywhere, I never use it. In fact, more often than not, it’s not even charged, but it’s become such a habit to grab my bag (which primarily holds my tablet and other electronic devices) that I haven’t brought myself to leave it behind yet. Part of this reason is due to my usage model — 10″ is a little unwieldy for my small hands and the perpetual motion of the bus. I’ve been seriously considering a 7″ tablet for a while, but fear that the novelty would wear off just the same as my 10″ tablet.

These days, I use my phone for most of my entertainment again, leaving my tablet forever alone in my bag. The most use it sees is when I’m playing in my weekly tabletop RPG session and it functions as a useful and compact rules reference. My phone is more convenient, and I’ve grown to ignore interrupting notifications when possible.

How about everyone else? Do you use your 4 +/- 1″ phone for your entertainment, or has your phone been demoted upon arrival of your tablet (for those of you who have one)? Which form factor do you prefer? Has anyone else had the same experience with a 10″ tablet, only to find that the 7″ form factor really does make enough of a difference?

(Note to site developers: support polls in Threads!)

  • Laurel laurel25

    I have been debating whether or not to get a tablet for a while. I tried out the Nook Tablet (with Android booting from the SD card) and I really did like it, but it just wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. I use my phone for everything currently – to the point that my hubby gets on me for never using the laptop he bought me a year ago anymore at all. I’m looking at possibly getting a 7″ tablet because I think that the 10″ models are just too big for my liking. I mostly want to use the tablet for viewing cookbooks and recipes online because the phone is too just small when you’re cooking. I also want to use it for playing games and to let my daughter watch movies/TV shows while on long road trips.

    • Homncruse

      For your use case, I think the 7″ form factor would be ideal. 10″ would be better for the movies/TV use case (as suggested by Taylor below), but all your other uses point to a 7″ ideal form factor.

  • Taylor Wimberly

    It really depends on the form of entertainment. I use my 10 inch tablet if I’m going to watch movies on a plane. The 7 inch tablet has the best fit for my hands when playing games. About the only entertainment needs I use my phone for are streaming music.

    In my case I use the phone the most, followed by a 7 inch tablet at home, and 10 inch tablet when traveling out of state.

    • Homncruse

      Thanks for the insight from someone who possesses all three form factors! I think that’s how it’d fit me as well — I rarely watch video on my phone (I just flag it with Pocket to watch later), and while that’s partially due to screen size, it’s mostly because my phone speaker sucks and the hassle of pulling out headphones for a two minute YouTube video aren’t worth it.

      • Taylor Wimberly

        I forgot to mention I sometimes use my Google TV to watch YouTube and other videos that I first discovered on my phone.

  • BarefootMike

    My experience is probably different than most, as I don’t rely upon my mobile phone for much of anything–and not necessarily because I’m a prepaid customer using a G1. At work I’m tied to a desk all day with easy access to the Internet and a landline. I also have a Nexus 7, which I can’t keep my hands off, even after having it since Day 1 of its launch. I take both the G1 and the Nexus 7 everywhere I go, but the G1 mainly goes unused. The 7″ form factor works for me and most of my digital needs.

    • Homncruse

      Would you say that if you had a more powerful phone, you’d use the Nexus 7 less frequently? I.e., if you had a phone with equivalent specs to the Nexus 7 (other than screen size, obviously), would any of your usage patterns migrate from the tablet to the phone?

  • skugern

    Being on a budget, I used my phone for 90% of my on-the-go entertainment until recently. Now, much of the same entertainment I now consume on my Nexus 7. I don’t feel a need for a bigger screen, and if I do, I can wait and watch it on my connected TV.

    Games wise, I only have basic games (no RPG or super involved) on my phone and tablet. My serious gaming is on a PC due to superior controls (mouse and keyboard).

  • tommy5d

    My Nexus 7 has meant that my Nexus S gets very minimal usage. I leave the tablet at home so use my phone when I’m out but barely touch my phone when at home. I often forget to charge it…

  • Brenden

    I don’t have a tablet, but I have a Droid RAZR MAXX and the 14″ Lapdock. I end up just using my phone while around the house and if I’m traveling I’ll bring my Lapdock. It gives me more battery life and a nice big screen to watch movies on. For use at any other time the novelty of the Lapdock has worn off.

  • jian9007

    I don’t own a 10″ tablet as I prefer my 17″ laptop if I need to do serious work or need a truly full scale OS. My phone is currently a Sensation 4G (4.3″ screen) and I also have the Nexus 7. The Nexus 7 gets a ton of use every day, whether at home (I keep my laptop in my bedroom & the Nexus goes everywhere else in the home including the bedroom), or out and about. Also, when going out of town I take the Nexus 7 and usually leave the laptop at home unless it’s absolutely necessary.

    I can access my home computer remotely if needed and I also have music and other media uploaded into the cloud (I use Google drive, Google music, Dropbox, & MS Skydrive as I’m a bit obsessive) so I can access it on the go. I use my phone as the hotspot when there’s no Wi-Fi and also carry files, media, music, on flash drives to connect to the Nexus 7 when needed. My phone is used as it was intended, for phone calls & text messaging, with occasional use when I leave the Nexus 7 at home.

    It’s for this reason that I don’t want the new Galaxy Note. At 5.5″ it’s too big for a phone and too small for me to use as a tablet. The max phone size I feel that I want/need is 4.7″-4.9″. Even at 5″ I would still use my Nexus 7 just as much. Everyone’s use case is different. Do I really need the Nexus 7? Perhaps not, but then again most of us don’t need a quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM and 1080P screen on our phones either. But we do want it.

    In summary, I feel that a 7″ tablet bridges the gap between a large phone and a laptop. It’s easier to see and work/play on than a phone, yet more portable than a full size laptop (or 10+” tablet). Also with the Nexus 7 I know the OS will be pure and updated, & it is highly customizable (I’m unlocked and rooted).

  • dpleus

    For what it’s worth, here’s my two cents.

    I currently own a HTC Rezound with a 4.3″ screen, a Nook Simple Touch with a 6″ screen, an Acer A200 10″ tablet, a Lenovo 15.6″ laptop and a desktop with a 23″ screen. As you can see, I have the full gamut of computing devices to choose from, and their use is very dependent on the situation.

    My phone never leaves my side, and probably get’s the most use out of all of the devices, but that is mainly because it is right there, always on, and always connected to the internet. While I use it for the occasional game or to stream music or a movie, the majority of the use is to check my social networks.

    While the Nook Touch is not an entertainment device, it partially replaced a Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 WiFi gen 1 device that I bought in lieu of a Nook Color. When I bought the GTab, it was because I wanted an e-reader, but something more capable than the Nook Color. In general I would use the 7″ tablet for media streaming at work, checking email and web browsing. I wound up frustrated with the screen size and trying to browse the internet, so I bought a 10″ tablet.

    My Acer A200, in my opinion the best value for a 10″ tablet in the dual core market, is the perfect filler device between my phone and a laptop or desktop. Day to day I use it primarily as my internet access device of choice, as I use it primarily for my email access and web surfing. I take it with me when I travel instead of the Laptop as it’s more portable. With the full size USB connection, I load up a bunch of movies on flash drives and I have all the entertainment I need. And I can still check my email and anything I need on the internet.

    My laptop and desktop have been religated to PC gaming machines. The laptop for those times I want to sit on the couch and watch TV while doing some light gaming, and the desktop is for my more intense gaming experiences.

    As I said at the get go, my use of these devices is very situational. And in general, the larger the device, the less I use it. Mobile phones are great for streaming music and staying socially connected, but a larger device (7″ or 10″ depending on your preference) is better for movies and internet browsing.