Bridging the gap between phablet and tablet


I’ve been tossing around an idea lately and I think now is the time to talk about it. I’ve also got the perfect OEM to do it, and frankly I’m surprised it hasn’t already. So, here are my thoughts, and of course, you’re free to debate this. It’s a bit of a twist on an old debate, so here goes.

Samsung is known for, among other things, making a phone or tablet for just about every form factor on the planet. So if there is an OEM willing to take a flyer on this, it’s Samsung. Phones are becoming bigger and bigger. The Lumia 1520 comes to mind as just a massive device that is still classified as a phone. The word “phablet” exists because of this phenomenon. As the line become more and more blurry, is there room for one other kind of device? I argue there is.

asus-fonepad-intel-80Blazing the trail

Asus made a phone/tablet/hybrid machine called the Padphone. Once of the more interesting features this padphone had was a stylus that doubled as an earpiece. This is a feature that hasn’t been explored thoroughly enough in my opinion and should be. What I’m proposing is a 7” tablet with phone radios that uses a stylus as an earpiece/headset.

When you think about it, this makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons. I will outline below.

So crazy, it just might work

First, and foremost, 7” tablets are reasonable in size and still pocketable, albeit barely. My 2012 Nexus 7 with Targus case fits into my back pocket, relatively easily. I wouldn’t sit with it in my pocket, but it does fit. So it’s not like a bag would be mandatory equipment when toting this guy around.

Second, the biggest reasons, at least in my opinion, as to why the Bluetooth earpiece isn’t far more popular than it is today are storage and social stigma. You look like a [email protected]#[email protected] walking around with a headset that you’re not talking into. You look slightly less d$%ey (more like nerdy) if you carry the earpiece in a belt pouch. Earpieces in pockets don’t really work because most people don’t want to put something that was just in their pocket into their ear. Or at least I don’t.

But a tablet that uses a stylus as an earpiece, and has a place to store that earpiece, such as the Galaxy Note series, would solve that problem. The introduction of smart watches also solves the problem of having to fish a tablet out of your pocket/bag to see who’s calling before answering the call with such a stylus.

google glass update xe 17.2 low battery warningBattery

The large battery on the tablet would keep a “phone” going for potentially several days without breaking a sweat. Plus, there is the question of device reduction. A 7” tablet is more than capable of doing much of what 10” tablets can do, plus you no longer have to carry around a phone.

Finally, the Bluetooth earpiece solves the weight problem. You won’t have to hold a phone book up to your head to take a call. Rather a slim stylus that charges while in its tablet holster would always be charged and ready to go. Battery life on the earpiece wouldn’t have to be marathon worthy because it starts to charge as soon as it’s holstered. You are all allowed to gawk at my brilliance.

And yet…

The reason 10” tablets exist is because there are tablet experiences that just don’t belong on a 7” screen, so this is not going to solve the problem of having to carry a phone and a tablet. In fact, it may create the problem of having to carry two tablets. This is not exactly a compelling argument for a sales rep to be making while standing in the Verizon store.

And speaking of the Verizon stores, there isn’t much of a proof of concept for subsidizing tablets. Sure, some carriers try to do it – usually for free w/ contract – so this concept may not be the best of US buyers. Which isn’t to say it won’t work in other markets, but still.

moneyShow me the money

The other major pit fall to this is the cost of the radios and certifying the radios with the various carriers. These all add to the cost the consumer has to pay out, and let’s be honest here – which would you rather buy – a $230 Nexus tablet, or a $350 Samsung tablet/phone with a weird earpiece? And speaking of the earpiece…

I don’t know about you, but I occasionally have long phone calls. An earpiece/stylus that is slim enough to be held within the tablet is not going to have a huge battery. I already mentioned that this will be fine since the thing will charge in the holster, and that’s cool for “Honey, I’m getting on the train now, I’ll be home in an hour” phone calls. But anything that requires more in depth conversation if going to result in you holding a bulletin board to your face, or sacrificing privacy to switch to speakerphone. Neither of these are very good prospects for a concept phone.

Sound off

So what do you think dear reader? Is this the gold concept that OEMs have been missing out on? Or is this just some weird hybrid that is best left on the drawing table? Would you buy this tablet? Go ahead and sound off in the comments and let’s see if we can figure this out.

Leader image source: Gstyle Mag

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About The Author
Adam Doud
Adam joined the tech world after watching Jon Rubenstein demo the most epic phone ever at CES 2009. He is webOS enthusiast, Windows Phone fan, and Android skeptic. He loves the outdoors, is an avid Geocacher, Cubs/Blackhawks fan, and family man living in Sweet Home Chicago, where he STILL hosts monthly webOS meetups (Don’t call it a comeback!). He can be found tweeting all things tech as @DeadTechnology, or chi-town sports at @oneminutecubs. Read more about Adam Doud!