There are just so many new gadgets out there, and for the most part, its a crazier world when it comes to tablets. For those who might have been coming from a PDA or eReader background, the idea of a 10in tablet is wrought with some significant risks (weight, platform lock-in, etc.) alongside the obvious gains. And so the 7in tablet begins to take some root as a potential alternative. From a physical standpoint, we’re talking about something with a bent towards reading (unless you’ve got a Samsung or HTC model with a stylus and those neat styli tricks). From a software perspective, we are mostly talking about Android (I’m still wishing for something solid to come from the Mer/MeeGo camp). And then from a usability and faith end, we get that really interesting ask of how this shape of device fosters a maturing faith perspective and a life lived in light of such perspectives.
I’ve recently purchased a Kindle Fire HD to potentially replace my 1st gen iPad. And while I’ve begun to note some of my impressions about it, I’m not yet completely comfortable giving the KF-HD all the work that I gave my iPad. These are different devices, and not everything that one tablet can do should be done on all others. At least how they have come across so far, the iPad is more of a canvas (you can’t do much until you add the paint of various applications), and the KF-HD is a catalog (the 21st century Sears/JC Penny catalog) – I dig into that distinction some on my personal blog.
Still, I can’t help but thinking that there’s a legitimate space for this size of device, and what we can continue to refine about our understandings about mobile as it relates to faith. For example, a few days ago Mobile Advance asked (via Twitter) something specific towards the Google Nexus 7 tablet for an upcoming African trip. Of note to his question was this ability to utilize a device in a mostly offline context. Here were some of the apps recommended in that conversation stream:
- Digital Bible Society’s Browser Bible
- YouVerion (though there will be some limitations when offline)
- NET Bible (HTML zipped version is what I have, but that seems no longer available)
Essentially, these are apps which enable taking a 7in tablet and treating it more like a Moleskine notebook and not just a browser/ebook device. I don’t know that anyone can disagree with that perspective. But, its neat that in a device that is this size, that such a use-case isn’t so far away from normalcy. (And in rethinking about it, I forgot to mention a multi-language dictionary; too many years going online for those moments, whoops)
And besides that, you’ve got to think about how that shifts how you use your mobile device. In my case, having the KF-HD makes me use my smartphone more. I don’t know if its because I haven’t adapted to using it as easily as I have my iPad, or that its just faster to continue on this current workflow by using my N8 (and a recently acquired Lumia 900). I can see how someone who has a laptop and doesn’t want to remove that from their lifestyle will use a 7in tablet alongside a low or mid-range smartphone and be just fine in some of their computing pursuits. At least with the Kindle Fire/FireHD, I’m not sure that this is a perfect size to be a netbook/laptop replacement – even though the range of solid 7in tablets and their attending software points in that direction. I do think that its a near-perfect size though to replace a high-end smartphone and larger tablet. Which might make for some interesting decisions for many when it comes to costs of computing over time.
As with the iPad, I expect use and perspectives to mature over time with this new tablet. And to be honest, I’m not totally sold on it just yet either. Its nearly perfect, but as I’ve said in some other ramblings, my usage could be better done with a phablet (phone+tablet) like the Galaxy Note II, or a solution like the Asus Padfone 2. I’m a weird one though. My device choice here is honed for a question to be answered much later. For you, the 7in (or even 8.9in and 10in) tablets might fit your usage needs a bit better. Much like we’ve talked about building a Bible app from the perspective of a layman, not a pastor, there’s something to be said for a smaller screen that might fit the usage and mental models of a different type of person that just isn’t as widely heard. We’re listening for that here now, and whatsoever the results of adding this to the #mobmin utility belt might bring.