To 7″ iPad or Not to 7″ iPad, That is the Question

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To 7" iPad or Not to 7" iPad, That is the Question Listen to this article

MailThe Gear Chat began with this message to the team…

Okay, this is ground we have covered before but it really deserves a new Gear Chat so… 7″ iPad. Interested or Not Interest?

NewImageI commented: Me, I’m interested. As Mike has said, the 7″ form-factor is quite nice. Easy to carry, good for books and “big enough” for most tasks. Yes, it will offer less productivity functionality than the iPad but I already used my iPhone for much of my work and then finish on the iPad or Mac and this would be better. I love my iPod touch and, when home in WiFi often prefer it over any other device thanks to the small size, thin form and weight. The iPad mini, I still bet it is much more akin to an iPod touch Max, would be the best of all worlds. Me, I’m in.

NewImageJoel: After carting around a 10″ device for the better part of the year, I am starting to think that the 7″ form factor is very attractive (iPad or not). The widescreen in portrait size is exactly like a slightly shrunken down piece of letter sized paper…..but you can fit more text on it if your eyes are good and the screen is good (IPS or retina).

The size is way more portable than the 10″. I love my Kindle for this very reason. I can stuff it almost anywhere and not have to worry about it too much. Fits in ANY coat (no need to send Scott money) and could even fit in some cargo pants. It’s infinitely more mobile.

Finally there is price. Many people want an iPad and could use it, but couldn’t justify the price of it. I look on the 7 as a starter iPad….one for people who want to try it first before going whole hog on the 10. It’s also good for those wanting a more mobile experience. After seeing the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 come out, Apple HAS to be thinking in this direction. I know it’s not true, but I had a non tech person say to me that they love their Kindle Fire because it’s cheaper than the iPad and smaller.

NewImageChris: The 7″ form factor is only good for paperback sized books – fiction/non-fiction. It is NOT good for any other type of book. Technical books look terrible in the small format and are nearly unreadable. Additionally, magazines and comics don’t work well in a 7″ form factor. And you can forget newspapers (and services like PressReader) unless you like a LOT of pan and scan.

I think you are definitely going to end up in a one-size does NOT fit all situation. For some, mostly people who want to just casually read (primarily for enjoyment), a 7″ form factor might be fine with its smaller size and lower resolution. But for more serious reading, or if your eyes are aging – you might want/need the higher resolution and larger size of the 9-10″ format.

For me – 7″ is NOT functional. I read way to many technical books and PDF files that are a complete FAIL on the smaller screen. But for the casual reader, the convenience and a lower price might appeal, as long as they can live with the sacrificed resolution. Also note- not all 10″ devices are equal. The dpi of the current iPad makes it superior to most tablets of similar size for readability.

NewImageChris Chamberlain: Considering that this is the month where I finally had to admit to myself that I need to carry reading glasses with me all the time, I prefer the size and readability of my full size iPad. The incremental difference between my iPhone and a 7″ iPad probably wouldn’t appeal to me as I consider my iPhone screen to be only marginal readable now. But that’s a user flaw, not a design deficiency.

NewImageBryan: I’m interested, but myself I hope the form factor is 16:9, not 4:3, as I tend to prefer the ergonomics of the rectangle over the square, based on my experience with my PlayBook. 7″ offers the potential for improved portability and better productive usage, a good melding of a larger screen yet smaller footprint.

NewImageFrancis: You know me and 7″ devices. Definitely my favorite form factor. I think Apple dodged this bullet for quite some time and as it looks something of that size is coming. I agree that it should be 16:9 for proper form factor but 4:3 has done them all so well thus far. I think if Apple does put it out it will obviously do well, especially since the world as whole has taken well to 7″ tablets the past year or so. I’m just not sure what compromise will be made to keep within the going pricing.

NewImageCarly: I am intrigued by a 7″ iPad. It has potential to be a nice in-between size for light browsing and reading. What I wonder is whether it will have 3G as an option. I could see someone using a dumb phone and a 7″ iPad in place of a smartphone.

NewImageFrancis: That’s a good point? but is data necessary at this point? single bill with tethering from phone? I’ve seen people attempt the dumb phone / tablet move [Judie has done it twice], and I have yet to see it work out. Every time [you need to look something up, you] would have to have [your] iPad with [you] for it to work. Out to dinner, on the road for work … Interesting concept and would like to see someone actually pull it off. But in my opinion impossible at this point.

NewImageMichael: Definitely interested, but since the iPad has become my ‘80% computer’ I wonder what role the iPad Mini would fill … but then again that is a question I struggle with for Android tablets as well. I assume, like Dan, that it would be great for video and music … and I think it would be awesome for games!

NewImageTravis: I used to think the 7″ size would not interest me, until I used my wife’s Playbook. I love the portability and feel of the smaller form factor. In fact, the first time I picked it up, I told my wife I’d love to see an iPad that size. I am currently blessed with good eyesight, so the smaller screen looks great to me. If the price was right, I’d be in for sure.

NewImageDouglas: I’m absolutely interested; I’ve felt for a long time–and Chris and I talked about this a couple of years ago on Yammer, I think–that there is definitely room in the marketplace for an intermediate-sized device between the iPhone and the iPad. I love my iPad, no question–even though it’s getting a bit long in the tooth–but I’d very much like to try a 7″ job. I like reading books on my iPad, but I have found that holding it for long periods is a PITA; maybe a 7″ would be better. Trying to use my iPad in bed while laying on my side is just silly, but maybe a 7″ one would be better.

NewImageMichael: Francis and Brian – personally I *HATE* the 16:9 form factor for tablets. It is great for movies and … well, movies? It royally sucks in portrait mode, is awkwardly too wide and narrow in landscape … my experience with the Xoom really cemented that opinion for me, and every time I try at 10″ 16:9 tablet it reminds me why they suck.

NewImageFrancis: ?Good point. I really don’t use much in portrait, but I think with the new setup on Android it’s *better* than it used to be. Ice Cream Sandwich was quite an update IMO, and with more homescreen (dashboard) style setups I think it may work out. I agree though mostly short of web navigation I am in landscape. Since my tabs are 99% entertainment devices, I guess I really don’t use portrait all that much.

NewImageChris W: First – 16×9 just doesn’t work for much other than watching movies – in my opinion. As I mentioned, I view a lot of 8.5×11 documents and 16×9 just isn’t suited to that. Additionally, I think 4×3 devices feel more “balanced” and less awkward to me.

Second – I still worry that a 7″ iPad will not succeed unless the price point is low enough, and I worry that there will be too many compromises made to make that lower price happen in which case Apple would be diminishing their brand by doing that and I think that would be a really bad move for Apple which sells to its “premium” brand mindset.

NewImageMichael: Economics are in Apple’s favor here as well. I have noted it in posts in the past and alluded to it in my Nexus 7 post, but if Apple and Asus took identical parts from the standard array of suppliers and built a device that sold for $200, Asus would break even (maybe) and Apple would make 25% gross margin. They OWN the supply chains of so many major component makers, and they secure supply and cost buy throwing billions (literally) around.

NewImageJudie: I think at this point I wouldn’t even care about a 7″ iPad … if Apple would just release an iPhone with a slightly larger screen — 4″? 4.3″? Consider me a happy camper. With my iPad being my portable computer, I don’t think I need or want a smaller screen. And with that said: I could see Apple releasing a “mid-size” device that didn’t have 3 or 4G, only WiFi just to make sure that it didn’t cut into iPad or iPhone sales. Kind of like the (basically) neutered touch.


So what do YOU think? Is a 7″ iPad on the way? And if it is would you buy one? Why or why not? And if you did, would it be in addition to a current iPad or a replacement for the larger device?

We want to know AND, one person who comments will be entered to win their choice of one of three recently reviewed iPad cases. Which cases? This one, and this one and finally, this one.  The winner will be announced in this Friday’s newsletter.

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About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.