My prediction on the optimal mix of screens in my life…

by jeffhilimire on March 21, 2013

About nine months ago I switched from the Macbook Air 11in to the Macbook Pro 15in. The nature of my work changed such that I needed a larger and more powerful laptop, but since I use this machine at home and work, I’ve found the size of it (and the power) to be something that really appeals to me, so I’ve stuck with it. Actually this is probably one of the longest stints I’ve gone with the same laptop and I don’t see myself changing anytime soon.

And because I no longer wanted to carry around a “large” device with my 15in laptop, several months ago I switched from the iPad to the iPad Mini and, though I loved the larger iPad, I haven’t looked back since. Even without the Retina screen, I much prefer the smaller iPad.

So this past weekend I listened to a Macworld podcast where Andy Ihnatko – a massive iPhone fan – switched to the Samsung Galaxy S3 and a major reason why was the larger screen. He actually made some very compelling points about how far Android has come as an OS and similarly how far Samsung has come in matching Apple in terms of producing a quality phone, to the point where I’m trying to figure out if I can easily switch SIM cards and try the S3 for a while.

My first reaction was that I don’t want a larger phone. It would be really difficult to hold that phone up to your ear and talk to someone, you’d almost feel foolish doing that if it was too large. Then I realized that I almost never do that any more.

If I had to guess, I probably use my phone as an actual phone, you know, to actually call someone, about 5% of the time. The rest of the time I’m checking email, listening to a podcast, searching the web, playing a game, getting driving directions, texting someone, using Evernote, listening to music, checking ESPN, taking photos…all of which would actually be better with a larger screen.

And even the 5% of the time I’m making calls, I’d say at least 25% of that time I’m in the car using bluetooth.

Today, when I want to read a book or watch a movie, I grab the iPad Mini. It’s a great size for those usages. But…I can envision that a larger phone would actually be pretty good for those uses, especially reading a book. I would still imagine that a tablet would be better for watching video, but for reading I bet it wouldn’t be that much of a drop off (and I’ve read an entire book on my iPhone before).

Excited to finally get to try the Pebble watch.

So now you layer in the concept of wearable devices, such as the Pebble watch and Google Glasses, and things start to get more interesting. If I had devices like that – and my Pebble just shipped! – you wouldn’t have to take your phone out of your pocket as much since you’d be able to check email and messages from your wrist. Or control your music, quickly check the weather, etc.

All of which leads me to wonder, is the best mix of screens going to be:

–> A very small screen on your wrist (or face via glasses) for quick, real-time notifications and as a remote for the phone in my pocket

–> A medium sized screen on your phone for reading, playing games, watching video, navigation, etc.

–> A larger screen for your computer for actual sit-down, type-on-a-keyboard work.

I’ll start to test this theory when I get the Pebble and – hopefully – if I can figure out how to try the S3. I’ll let you know how it goes…


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