Tablet Computers More Real Than TV?


 Tablet Computers and Mobile Reality Compared to TV

CTIA–the largest wireless show in the U.S.–is underway in Orlando. As usual, mobile and wireless manufacturers are trying their best to out-do each other with every conceivable electronic gadget. That includes tablet computers that make a lot of people drool these days.

In the Apple corner of the ring sits the iPad 2 flexing its 10 inch muscles. On the other side, the Samsung Tab and new BlackBerry PlayBook are primed to fight the 800 pound gorilla on the other side.

What strikes me having used an iPad for several months is the feeling I get while watching streaming video and reading high resolution text. It’s more REAL than watching a television show due to the closer proximity of the screen.

Think about it. Your eyes are about 16-18 inches from the display, roughly the same distance as a book. So when I read the Wall Street Journal, Pulse, SkyGrid, Engadget, CNN or Mashable–or view YouTube or videos–faces, rooms, buildings and text appear more lifelike. When you watch TV, however, you’re probably 10-12 feet from the screen. It’s more like viewing a movie in a theater.

This difference between tablet computers appearing “more real” than TV first came to me when watching Obama’s State of the Union address. His face was 16 inches away, closer to the usual three feet distance when two people talk with each other.

But it was more than distance. I felt closer to him, the other  senators and representatives and the room,  as the camera panned around the House of Representatives. Viewing the speech on tablet computers mesmerized me into thinking I was in the House. Even television close-ups of people and objects projects a different, less real experience. You know you’re watching TV.

Mobile Phone Experience

Mobile phones produce a similar feeling of reality too but they’re different in many ways. (See my article “6 Reasons Why Mobile Phones are Cooler than Tablet Computers” on MobileBeyond.) There I argue that mobile phones are more portable, smaller, lighter and have smaller ads than tablet computers.

Yet like tablets, you experience a similar reality boost over television. You just have to hold the phone closer and hope the screen resolution is fantastic.

MultiMedia: a New Definition

Multimedia used to refer to combining video, sound, graphics and pictures in one device–like a a 42 inch HD TV with surround sound from a high-end audio system. But I think the term “multimedia” better refers to “many mediums.”

Tablet computers, smartphones, game consoles and emerging devices like 3D phones are new forms of multimedia. Multimedia devices and content are now one and the same. As McLuhan said “the medium is the message.”

Sound crazy? Maybe a bit. But I think it’s true. As I watched on my iPad the recent Japanese Tsunami carry buildings, cars and people toward ruin, the effect was more than devastating. It was “super real.” Rather than watching my Samsung TV across the room, I became part of the scene on my tablet screen.

That’s why I believe that tablet computers are more real than TV.



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