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The no-man’s land of the 5” screen

These days everybody is thinking about portable devices in terms of screen sizes. Under 4?” You’re a smartphone. 4” to 7? You’re a MID. 9” or 10”? You’re a netbook and your parents don’t like you so they are trying to make you grow up into a proper laptop closer to 12” and $600.

At a panel of mobile experts I attended tonight, moderator Tim Bajarin asked what one device panelists would take on a trip if they could take only one and also what their ideal device would look like. It’s a simple yet fascinating question. One question you have to decide right away is how important a touch-typable keyboard is, Steve Wildstrom said he’d like to see a device with a 5” screen, probably the largest one could fit into a pocket.

But I’ve found that screens of that size pose a dilemma. Keyboards designed around them are too small for touch-typing but are actually big enough to make a thumb keyboard less efficient than they are on smaller screens. Of course, you could split the keyboard as was tried in the Pepper Pad and Samsung Q1 Ultra, but that sets off a learning curve.