Rethinking the fate of 7-inch devices on Pocketables
Although there have certainly been exceptions, I've generally tried to maintain and follow a self-imposed "7-inch rule" here on Pocketables. What this has meant is that any device with a screen size larger than 7 inches was, for the most part, not welcome here.
The name of this site has always been more figurative than literal and the only reason 7-inchers were even included in the first place was that I started Pocketables during the Origami UMPC era in 2006. I had just decided to buy the Sony Vaio UX180P instead of the Samsung Q1 and the other 7-inch slates that defined the UMPC category back then, so as the site evolved, the 7-inch rule quietly fell into place. It made sense to me at the time, as netbooks were non-existent and 7-inch computers were considered quite tiny and highly portable, but lately I've been having second thoughts.
Even though I've purchased and still own several 7-inch UMPCs, I'm really starting to lose interest in the size and form factor. A lot of people use the "too small to touch type, too big to thumb type" line when evaluating portable devices that straddle the space between smartphones and netbooks, and that's what I'm beginning to think about 7-inch units.
This wasn't an issue for me while adoring my HTC Shift or using my Kohjinsha SC3, but it's really being driven home right now with the Viliv S7 I've got on loan. I don't know if it's the fact that the Shift and SC3 predated my love affair with the Sony Vaio P (which provides an excellent touch typing experience for me) or because I enjoy how thumb-typable the UMID M1 and Sharp NetWalker are compared to the UX and Willcom/Sharp D4 (my other small-screened Windows devices), but I'm struggling with the S7. It's a perfectly fine little convertible with no glaring shortcomings or dealbreakers to speak of, so I know the problem I'm having with it is a personal one: I want it to be smaller.
An automatic result of my waning interest in 7-inch devices is that I don't want to read news or write about them. One of the best ways to ensure that maintaining Pocketables never feels like a chore is to not cover something just for the sake of covering it. So lately I've been thinking and tweeting about cutting out the 7-inch device coverage completely. This would not only make me happier, but it would make the name of the site much more literal than it was before as well. Two big pluses, if you ask me. The response I've gotten from people I've mentioned this to has been positive too, so that's another plus.
With that almost settled, the next question becomes "what should the new screen size limit be?" My first inclination is to impose a new 5.6-inch rule. A 5-inch rule makes more sense, I know, but I don't want to exclude the Fujitsu U series (assuming their subsequent models keep the same screen size as previous generations).
The problem with that, however, is that a small screen size doesn't always mean a small device. Look at the photos above. The Willcom/Sharp D4 and Sharp NetWalker both have 5-inch WSVGA displays, but they are very different in terms of overall size.
The D4 is more of the exception than the norm, though, so maybe implementing another screen size limitation won't be a problem. I'm sure there'll be a device here and there that will challenge the notion of pocketability, but I think 5.6 inches is a reasonable guideline, especially since most mobile computing handhelds these days have screens ranging between 3.5 to 5 inches.
What do you think? Should Pocketables redefine its focus to only include portable gadgets that are actually pocketable? Does a 5.6-inch rule make sense?