Friday, January 25, 2013

Phablet - Fad or Future?

I've been pondering this one for awhile since the introduction of the original Galaxy Note and Galaxy Tab 7.7 which had an earpiece to use as a phone: are we inching towards larger devices as a whole and can we handle it?

Leaked picture of the new Galaxy Note 8.0

After the leaks about the Galaxy Tab 8.0 started popping up, the question popped into my head again. Having handled a Galaxy Note 2, I can almost use it as a traditional handset/cell phone without feeling too self conscious but I doubt I could do the same with a 7" or 8" tablet. I might be dating myself but it would utterly feel like I was walking around with a boombox slung over my shoulder. Sometimes, you have to know when to say when.

With that said, I'd like to think that we're going in the right direction with larger devices. The catch is that the way we use it and the way it's built has to be changed. Also our "social" norm of using a cell phone or a communication device will need to be altered. Everything clicked into place after watching an anime series - Robotic;Notes.

Robotic;Notes - Their phablet in phone mode
The idea of carrying around a tablet to have access to the Internet and data in general is becoming far more popular. It's not at full saturation yet like cell phones are but it's getting there. There are several obstacles to it becoming more prevalent; additional cost of cellular data enabled tablets vs WiFi only models and the monthly cost to keep those devices connected.

After seeing this concept in use within the series, I can see myself carrying around a much larger phablet as my do-it-all device. I'm beginning to appreciate the additional real estate that the bigger screen offers and it would be nice to carry one device instead of two (phone plus tablet). The problem is that I can't see myself bringing a device of that size up to my head to carry on a conversation. It would downright feel awkward. Which will mean that I will have to opt to use a headset of some sort or go in speaker mode.

Voice only

Video chat/call

Data consumption is one thing but using said phablet as a video/voice communicator brings up what is mostly a social problem. It would be awkward to bring up something that cumbersome up to my ear. I would just rather use the speaker function if it wasn't a "private" call (a good time to use a headset/headphones) or just go straight into a video call. But society frowns upon using a speakerphone in public.

I'm questioning why it's a social faux pas to have a conversation via speakerphone. Yes, admittedly if you're blasting your conversation a full volume - with a person next to you or over the phone, it's not very courteous. But why is speaking to a someone beside you a given yet unacceptable to do so over speaker? You're still speaking to someone when you're on a speakerphone, right? Why are there "quiet" cars or sections on trains which really only apply to cellular users since muted conversations are never frowned upon in said cars? Puzzling and it's something that I believe we'll need to get over with as society as a whole but that's just me. Yes, there is a time and a place for everything but using basic common sense should be more important than treating conversations, be it in person or over the air, be any different. I'm willing to champion and further this cause but I will need the right device to do so.

What I would like to see is a "mini" tablet that can handle calls, have a decent screen, isn't overly thick and has very good battery life - somewhere in the 10 hour range minimum. Give me a decent front mounted camera for video calls and give me an excellent rear camera. Not the usual underwhelming sensors that are thrown on tablets at the moment. If this is going to be my primary mobile device, I need it to do everything my phone and tablet can do right now. 

But leave off the earpiece. I won't miss it. Thanks.

And yes, keep on making larger tablets. They'll have a place in our lives too.