While Microsoft is busy getting ready to release their 10.6″ Surface RT tablet next week, Apple is expected to announce a smaller iPad. There has been some interest in the smaller 7″ tablet range given the popularity of the Nexus 7 and eBook-style tablets such as the Nook and Kindle. Would a 7″ tablet running Windows 8 or Windows RT be feasible? Is it something you might buy?
First off, it would probably depend on the screen resolution. You can certainly fit an HD 720p screen in a 7″ form factor and most of the Windows 8 MX style apps would probably be usable at that size, but a 7″ screen might make for smaller buttons. That likely would not be a problem for most of the Windows 8 Metro apps, but both Windows 8 and Windows RT still include a lot of legacy desktop UI elements. Once you get into those, trying to touch little checkboxes and buttons in something like Excel could be very frustrating at 7″ even with Office 2013’s touch mode turned on.
Still, if you reserve those desktop mode functions for when your tablet is plugged into some other type of pointing device (mouse/trackpad/keyboard) or Microsoft makes a new version of Windows RT that completely removes the legacy UI elements, then it could still be pretty nice. A desktop-free version of Windows RT, might be a good idea for such small form-factor tablets and eBook readers.
However, eBook readers are generally used in a portrait mode, and the current versions of Windows 8 and RT are really optimized for landscape mode usability. Sure you can use it in portrait mode, but then you don’t have the advantages of split-screening two apps at the same time and some content will probably be cut off, thus requiring more horizontal scrolling.
What do you think? Would a Windows 8 or Windows RT tablet with a 7″ screen be something that might work well? Let us know in the comments.