Rugged Handheld screen sizes explained 2014

We blogged a long time ago about the changing nature of the PDA device and tablet screen and after just reading it again it’s still worthy of a mention and a read, especially to help with the history of the VGA/QVGA resolution.  However a lot has happened since then so I wanted to talk about screens this week starting today with a look at screen sizes.

Screen size, resolution and pixel density explained!

So screen size is the physical size of the screen and they’re measured just like TV screens, from corner to corner. This is where you’ll see values like 3.5″ or 7″ for tablets etc.

Resolution is the number of pixels the screen has in total. More pixels = better resolution and also means you can fit more on the screen and in today’s information packed work world, this is becoming important so more complex applications can run in 1 screen.

Density is what consumer devices have gotten hooked up on in recent years and it’s a measure of how many pixels have been packed into a certain size.  Its slightly different to resolution which is a physical count of pixels in that density is a measure of the number of pixels fitted into a space.  So a large 7″ screen with the same resolution as a 4.3″ screen will have less pixel density as there are less pixels crammed into the larger space the 7″ screen has.  We don’t tend to get hung up on this in the Enterprise world but when you hear terms like “Retina display” or High PPI this is what there’ s going about!!

Screen sizes

So screen sizes used to be simple, with all but the least common devices using a 2.8″ or 3.5″ screen.  However this is all changing now with PDA’s and smartphones now coming out with seemingly bespoke LCD’s all the time and this has hit the rugged world.

Now we see:

2.8, 3.0, 3.2, 3.5, 3.7, 3.9, 4.0, 4.3, 4.5, 5.0, 5.88, 6.0, 7.0, 8.0, 10.1, 12.1 and I’m sure I missed a few there too however what’s important to mention now is that the popular range of sizes has moved in the past few years from:

2.8, 3.5 to 2.8, 3.0, 3.2, 3.5, 3.7, 3.9, 4.0, 4.3, 4.5 and we’re starting to see the first 5.0 screens hitting the market.

Why screen size matters

We’re all staring into our screens a lot, lot more than we used to as mobile becomes the standard way we run our lives and it’s a 3 way pressure that’s changing the screen size.

Firstly apps are becoming more complex as we want to do more and more on our phones and tablets. We don’t just check our bank balances, we want to manage our whole financial life on our mobiles, We don’t text any more, we either write emails full of media and attachments or we use complex social applications to stay in touch.  We create, edit and watch media like film makers and we play games that are more complex than PC ones only a few years ago.

Add to this new technologies have allowed screen fabrication and customisation to become cheaper, they’re way less drain on battery power so they have become brighter, easier to use and we can use them for longer. Capacitive screens have created completely new ways of using screens that suit larger more complex applications too.

So it’s only natural that screens grow and businesses utilise that to their advantage making applications that run solely in the mobile space.

So what we still don’t know is what screen size will be the optimum for you?  However what we do know is that in 2014 there’s a device with one that’s just right!

In the next blog we’ll talk about resolution and why that’s important.

About The Author

Dave's one of the founders of Raptor, his rants are memorable, his thoughts are stimulating and his heart is set on helping, entertaining and making things like mobile, Android, ruggedness, 3D printing and IOT simple.

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