By Diana Zelikman, Fueled

When Apple first revitalized the tablet PC category with the iPad in April 2010, only 9.7-inch screens were available. Five years later, a plethora of tablets and tablet screen sizes have emerged – from the phablet-sized Samsung Galaxy phones, 7-inch Android tablets, the iPad mini, to the new 12.2-inch Samsung Pro Series tablets.

At Fueled, we believe that screen size is just as important as the operating system and device model, because one gadget does not fit all.


A tablet screen size to suit every taste

When it comes to screen size, the first thing that may cause confusion is the difference between screen size dimensions and the dimensions of the entire tablet. The size of the tablet is no guarantee that the screen is bigger than a smaller tablet. Screens are not all made the same in relation to size.

A better understanding of aspect ratio will alleviate the stress of deciding what screen size is best. Aspect ratio is defined as “the ratio of of the width of an image to its height.” So a screen can be large, but it may or may not support other ratios. That is when black bars appear on-screen or images stretch out. Most people will be familiar with this when trying to watch an old movie on a brand new HDTV when it hasn’t been rescaled.

Here is a quick break down of some of the big players in the market:

– Galaxy Note, 10.1 inch – 96 per cent screen area, 2560 x 1600, aspect ratio 16:10

– iPad Air, 9.7 inch – 94 per cent screen area, 2048 x 1536, aspect ratio 4:3

– Surface 2, 10.6 inch – 100 per cent screen area, 1920 x 1080, aspect ratio 16:9

– iPad Mini, 7.9 inch – 62 per cent screen area, 2048 x 1536, aspect ratio 4:3

– Kindle Fire HDX, 7 inch – 46 per cent screen area, 1920 x 1200, aspect ratio 16:10

– Galaxy Note, 8 inch – 60 per cent screen area, 1280 x 800, aspect ratio 16:10

So what does this all mean? If you look at the percentages, you’ll quickly see that just because a tablet or phablet says it’s 8.0 inches for example, doesn’t mean the screen size is going to be bigger.

Case in point – the iPad Mini is a 7.9 inch tablet, and has a screen area of 62 per cent, while the Galaxy Note is 8.0 inches and its screen area is only 60 per cent. It pays to check your specifications before making a purchase, especially if you are just focusing on the misleading tablet size.

However, choosing the right tablet doesn’t really come down to the screen area –  it’s the screen resolution and what you are going to use the tablet for. If you plan to use a tablet just to read e-books and answer emails, your best option would be a tablet that is designed to be used in portrait mode, like the iPad Air or the iPad Mini.

Or, if you plan to watch movies or edit photos, then a tablet that is designed to be best used in landscape mode, such as the Galaxy Note or Surface 2, would be a better bet.

But don’t buy the Surface 2 if you plan to read ebooks and answer emails – not only will you be frustrated with trying to view your books in portrait mode, but you’ll also find the tablet to be a bit on the heavy side.

The bottom line when looking at a tablet is to determine what you will be using it for the most. There’s no real detriment when it comes to screen size, other than buying a tablet at a resolution or size that doesn’t meet your needs.

 Do your due diligence first, and you’ll end up with a tablet that far exceeds your needs.

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