Tablets are essentially designed to bridge the gap in mobile computing between traditional laptops including ultrabooks and the smartphones that are so popular. They are extremely thin and lightweight but large enough to be easy to read and use. Because of this, their size and weight are some key factors to look at when considering the purchase of a tablet. This article takes a look at how the various physical characteristics can play an important role in the functionality of a tablet.
Height And Width
Before talking about the height and width, I'm going to bring up orientation. Why is this important? Well, each manufacturer will list its height and weight based upon their preferred orientation. Be sure to know this when look at tablets because it will help in comparing the numbers. Portrait mode means that the longer side of the tablet will be the height measurement. Landscape orientation means that the longer side will be the width measurement. The orientation will also matter as it often will dictate the location of items such as cameras, speakers and controls. For all of my coverage, I always use portrait mode for measurements as this is the natural way to hold a tablet when using it like an e-reader.
The height and width of a tablet is generally determined by the size of display used by the tablet. This matters to the user as it determines how portable the device is as well as how easy it is to hold in various orientations. This also will determine how easy it is to carry around in a jacket, handbag or backpack. For the most part, tablets are not something that will fit in one's pocket like a phone or similarly sized media player.
The aspect ratio of the height and width are also another thing to consider. A tablet that is really wide in landscape mode may be more beneficial for those who want to use a tablet primarily as a portable video player. A more balanced height to width ratio is typically better for those that want to use the tablet like an e-reader as it provides a more comfortable way to hold it in portrait mode similar to a book.
Thickness And Contour
Of the various dimensions for a tablet, the thickness is probably the most important. This determines how easy it is to hold the device. A thicker tablet will generally be more difficult to hold in one hand compared to a thin tablet. Even though a tablet may be thick, it may actually be easier to hold than a thinner one. This has to do with the contours of the case itself. A properly tapered edge may conform better to ones hand than a squared edge tablet. Because of this, it is best to always handle a tablet before buying.
The thickness also can determine another aspect of the tablet in terms of durability. A thin tablet that uses materials that aren't very resistant to flex could result in more damage to the tablet over time. This is something to consider if the tablet will be thrown in larger bags when traveling such that other objects could press in on it can cause flex damage. As a result, look at the material that makes up the shell of the device if it is particularly thin.
The heavier a tablet is the more difficult it is to hold that tablet for extended periods of time without the need to prop it up or set it down. On the whole, most tablets are very light when compared to laptops. The lightest laptops are typically around two and a half to three pounds. Tablets on the other hand are slightly above one pound or less. Even still, a heavier tablet will be more difficult to use over extended periods of time than a lighter one. In addition, people with physical disabilities or limitations may find a lighter tablet to be easier to use than a heavier one.
In addition to the overall weight of a tablet, the distribution of the weight within the tablet can also matter. This is not something that you will find at all within documentation by manufacturers. It can only be determined by actually handling the tablet. The best designs will evenly distribute the weight across the whole tablet. This allows it to be held in portrait, landscape or upside down without any change in the overall weight distribution. Some designs may shift the weight to one side in order to make it easier to hold in a single hand but this is only good when it is held in a specific orientation.
While the most common size of tablet PC has been based around a 10-inch display, smaller tablets are becoming more popular due to their smaller size and corresponding lower price tags. In general, there are five typical display sizes available or coming to market. Below are the average size and weights for these tablets to give consumers a general idea of what to be looking at. Note that extended travel will typically require that a small charger be carried with the tablet and is not factors into the weights below. All numbers are listed in portrait mode for height, width, thickness and weight:
- 5-inch Tablets: 6" x 3.2" x .4" @ .5 lbs.
- 7-inch Tablets: 7.5" x 4.75" x .35" @ .7 lbs.
- 9-inch Tablets: 9.3" x 6" x .35" @ .85 lbs.
- 10-inch Tablets: 9.8" x 7" x .4" @ 1.2 lbs.
- 13-inch Tablets: 12" x 8" x .4" @ 1.8 lbs.