It is an exciting time for tablet enthusiasts, and I am firmly in that camp. I have long realized the utility a slate device provides when the proper attention is given to details affecting usage. The screen on a touch tablet is the most important feature of such a device, as it determines how a gadget can be used. There are tablets beginning to appear at a rapid pace, and most of them are slates with screens from 7 – 10 inches. This is a decent size range for slate devices, but even more important than this is the display resolution supported. This is where most Android tablets now appearing fall short.
Most netbooks today have a standard screen resolution of 1024×600, and anyone who has used one will admit that’s not enough. Running apps in a full screen window can often just get by with this resolution, and web browsing can be frustrating as not enough of a web page is on the screen at one time. The same frustration will be felt with tablets running this display resolution, maybe even more so as tablets are often used in portrait orientation. Now imagine how fast that frustration will ratchet up if that slate is only capable of 800×480. That’s what most Android slates being produced today can handle, and that is frankly not enough.
The screen resolution coupled with the physical size of the display directly determine what can be done with a slate tablet. A 7-inch slate running at a measly 800×480 won’t display enough in landscape orientation (800 pixels), much less in portrait with only 480 pixels for the width. One of the greatest frustrations inherent in the Origami UMPC devices was the 800×480 screen resolution. It was impossible to see enough on the screen at one time, and some programs were practically unusable as a result.
There is no reason to expect Android tablets displaying this resolution to fare any better. That’s especially true for accessing the web, a function that such devices are particularly suited for. Most Android smartphones display this resolution on a sub-4 inch screen, so why is it appropriate for 7-inch displays (or bigger)? I don’t believe Android can handle resolutions bigger than this yet, so that may be the main factor affecting this. For the consumer it doesn’t matter what is behind the low resolution in use; it only matters that it’s not enough to be useful.
Image credit: Chinitech
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