As mobile technology rapidly takes over from its desktop and laptop predecessors, there's been one obvious casualty: screen real estate. While smartphones keep getting bigger—can you say "phablet"?—their screens are still tiny by previous standards. And while screens on tiny laptops like Apple's new Macbook may offer amazingly high resolution, their physical size is significantly smaller than the most popular laptops that preceded them. Watching a movie on even a full-sized tablet may be OK for one person, but it's completely inadequate for a couple, much less a small group.
See also: 5 ways Apple should re-invent the iPad
Big-screen TV sets and hi-res 27-inch monitors are great, and they still find places of honor in homes and offices, but they are hardly portable. Wouldn't it be useful if there was a big-screen device you could actually move around, to share information, collaborate on work, and consume media in group environments?
Tablets go big!
That's why I was so excited about published rumors last week suggesting that Samsung is working on a truly GIANT new tablet. According to SamMobile, the Korean company is working on a tablet code-named Tahoe with an 18.4-inch screen. If my math is correct, that would offer almost four times the real-estate of a full-size iPad! (Yes, I've seen the rumors about an oversize iPad Pro coming this fall, but that thing would look tiny compared to this behemoth.)
Just think of the new tablet use-cases that could be empowered by such a device. According to the reports, the rumored device is intended for shared use in living rooms, offices, and schools, instead of as a personal device, which makes sense. You can't slip an 18-inch tablet in your pocket—maybe not even in your briefcase.
But what a great way to watch videos, or play multiplayer games, or give small demos, or present school reports, or do real-time collaboration, or… you get the picture. There's an endless list of tasks that regular tablets are almost big enough to pull off, and a tablet this size could handle them without breaking a sweat.
The bad news
That's the good news. The bad news is that the Tahoe's reported specs are largely unimpressive: The TFT LCD screen is said to have a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels, not even close to the 2048×1536 on the much smaller iPad Air 2. Plus, there's just 2GB RAM and a weak 5,700 mAh battery. And of course there's no word on pricing or release dates.
It's just rumor at this point, so this device may never see the light of day at all. Frankly, I'm OK with that. Because I don't care so much about any particular device.
What I think is valuable is when mobile device makers explore different form factors, including oversized ones, to give the people who use them room to come up with exciting new uses and situations where these devices can do things we haven't even thought of yet. I think it would be great to have really big-screen tablets as a viable choice along with 10-inch and 7-inch models. We just need someone to make it happen.