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Why a 7-inch iPad makes no sense

updated 09:10 pm EDT, Thu August 5, 2010

Editorial: Apple may decide against smaller tablet

Rumors are swirling that Apple is coming close to unveiling a new, seven-inch iPad to give consumers another tablet option for those that want to be a bit more mobile. The device would reportedly boast the same basic features, but the biggest difference would be the 2.7-inches of screen real estate lopped off the new model. But is it really as exciting a prospect as some make it out to be?

Some are excited about the prospect of a new seven-inch iPad. They reason that the device would be easier to carry around, it would be cheaper, and perhaps most importantly, it would get closer to matching the size of the Amazon Kindle, the iPad's chief competitor in the e-reader market.

All those points sound fine, and a cheaper iPad would make sense. But I don't see any value in a seven-inch iPad. Sure, it would be smaller and carrying it around would be easier, but if that's all there is to the device, why wouldn't a shopper just buy an iPhone or iPod touch and be done with it?

The iPad is a fantastic device. I bought mine at launch, and so far, I couldn't be happier with it. I think the screen is just right for a device of that size, and at the introductory price of just $499, it's relatively affordable. I have no significant complaints.

But I would have some serious complaints with a seven-inch model. For one, a seven-inch screen starts getting into the dangerous territory of being too small for users to watch movies and enjoy Web videos on. Plus, a smaller footprint effectively puts the iPad into the middle-of-the-road area where consumers have trouble making up their minds. They reason that for, say, $100 more, they could get a much bigger device. Or, for a $100 less, they can get a smartphone that provides all the same functionality, but adds in calling. Confusion doesn't help sell tech products, and Apple is the master of avoiding overlap.

I'm all for devices that are more pocket-friendly, but we need to decide what the iPad is all about. Is the tablet a device designed to make you more productive and help you enjoy entertainment? Or is it a device that you want to store in your pocket and whip out when you have nothing better to do?

If it's the latter, I don't see value in it. For one, what size pockets do people have that they can slip the iPad mini in and be comfortable? And secondly, if the iPad mini gets too small, it's in danger of becoming a PDA. And we all know how well that turned out the last time Apple made something too big to be pocketable but too small to fill in for a notebook.

Apple has hit the sweet spots with its iPhone and the iPad. The iPhone is perfectly sized and designed for those who want to be productive while on the go, and the iPad is ideal for those that want an entertaining experience wherever they are. The disparity between the two devices makes them appealing to just about any consumer. Why give that up for the sake of a slightly cheaper tablet?

By Don Reisinger

By Electronista Staff


  1. bobolicious

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Aug 2002


    just one opinion...

    ...i can imagine younger kids, or those with smaller hands, or those wanting something lighter to fit in a labcoat pocket or smaller purse, or on a dash as a gps, yada yada...

    ...for me the software & content will be the deciding factor - the ebook titles I wanted were all on amazon, can't be 'shared', book/note synced with alternate devices, content selected to be googled/linked/copied/printed (within fair use policies) and in the apple system there is no reader for desktop use (save the $99 development simulator) - so in fact ebooks seem in some ways less flexible than traditional books & seem to fail to take advantage of the potential of the 'new' medium - somewhat like still needing to buy CDs to get lossless audio quality...?

  1. iphonerulez

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Nov 2008


    Yup, you don't see the point...

    Steve Jobs and Apple really don't care about your opinion or whether you see the point or not. I think they've probably done some sort of survey and then they'll produce the device for consumers, marketing it in such a way so that it will be the most natural thing in the world. It really could be a mass market reading device. You see, there are literally hundreds of millions of consumers out there and Apple can afford to take the risk of reaching some. If it doesn't sell all that well, no big deal. I'm sure it will and it will be a nice way to blunt sales of other vendors similar-sized tablets. Nobody will know for certain until the 7" tablet is built and offered for sale. That's honestly the best way to test your "don't see the point" theory.

    I'm sorry, but there were just too many analysts and pundits that really didn't see the point of the iPad or Apple Retail Stores. There's something about their brains that doesn't work properly because they only see failure instead of an opportunity.

  1. Foxypaco

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2010


    comment title

    The iPod Touch starts at $199. The iPad at $499. If they made an 7" iPad for $299, I might consider buying one.

  1. nat

    Junior Member

    Joined: Mar 2002


    ipod touch

    ... gone. iphone, ipad mini, ipad makes more sense to me than the same line up but also with the touch. that of course is if the 7" rumors are true.

  1. SockRolid

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Jan 2010


    7" is exactly the wrong size

    Too small to watch videos, too big to fit in a pocket. It's really that simple.

  1. chas_m



    Thank you!

    I've been saying for some time that a smaller iPad already exists ... it's called the iPod Touch. Maybe they'll rebrand the iPod Touch, make it a *little* bigger and *call* it an iPad mini, but really I just don't see Apple doing this.

    The iPad was *very* carefully considered for size, weight, comfort etc. There's really no value in an "inbetweener" that sits oddly between the Touch and the iPad proper.


    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: May 2005


    not too small

    I don't agree that it would be too small. We've been watching music videos, Tv shows and movies on our iPhones and iPod Touches, so this much larger screen certainly isn't too small.

    It could either have the 960 x 640 of the iPhone, or the 1024 x 768 rez of the iPad. Either would work well in this size.

    And don't forget that if Apple came out with it for $299 as was suggested, it would better compete with the kindle as a book reader because it would be lighter in weight, and the screen would still be one inch larger, in addition to the much lower price. The weight of my iPad doesn't always bother me when reading books, magazines or newspapers, but it is heavy for that task sometimes, and I have to shift it around.

    I'm not saying that this rumor is right, but that I don't see anything drastic that would prevent it. The only doubt is one made in Ars Technica, tht the batteries might not be big enough to give the same 10 hours, but I'm not sure that's correct.

    And Apple doesn't do marketing surveys, as per statements of Steve Jobs.

    I've repeated this post on Ars.

  1. Geordiekeith

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2003


    Right size

    Totally disagree. The iPad for me is too big - for that size I want a full computer with keyboard, more access ports, etc. whic I have to have for working when travelling. At my age, over 50, the iPod touch is too small for movies, books, and even games. (No iPhone as for work I have to have a Blackberry...) So, like mummy Bear, a 7"" iPad would be just right for me - falling nicely into the Kindle area for books, with the added bonus of movies and games - all my entertainment on my travels.

  1. Feathers

    Grizzled Veteran

    Joined: Oct 1999



    Why Don Reisinger should go somewhere that he's actually wanted...

    I just want to know. Did your daddy get you your first job?

  1. facebook_Doug

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Aug 2010


    I commute with an iPad everyday but...

    Much as i love it is a bit bulky. I carry it in my laptop bag (I carry enough computing power to go Mars). I watch TV, read papers and surf the net but given the choice and my personal experience i would opt for the 7" gadget.

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