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Finally! A full-featured 'phablet'

Mike Elgan | July 1, 2013
The secret that realizes the promise of 'phablet' computing is — wait for it — wearable computing!

People talk a lot about "phablets" — a combination of "phone" and tablet." People describe their own giant phones or mini tablets as "phablets." It's a buzzword with little real meaning.

The whole point of a phablet is to eliminate the need for someone to own both a phone and a tablet. Most of the gadget-obsessed geeks who brag about their "phablets" usually still carry or own both.

In some cases, people buy a giant phone to replace a mini tablet — say, a 5-in. phone to replace a 7-in. tablet. But they still use a 10-in. tablet around the house.

Others use a single device, but only because they cannot afford two, or choose not to because they're cheapskates.

Sony's Smart Bluetooth Handset and Xperia Z Ultra phablet
Sony's Smart Bluetooth Handset SBH52 functions like a minimalist phone and pairs with a tap with Sony's Xperia Z Ultra "phablet."

Sony's Smart Bluetooth Handset SBH52 functions like a minimalist phone and pairs with a tap with Sony's Xperia Z Ultra "phablet."

To me, a true phablet eliminates the need and even the desire to carry or own two devices smaller than a laptop, even for people who are able to easily afford two devices.

Instead of thinking about phablet computing as a device category, think of it as a new behavior, paradigm or lifestyle in which a small-tablet size device forms the centerpiece of mobility in an elegant, socially acceptable and convenient way.

This just isn't happening yet. But why?

It turns out that the secret is not just figuring out the perfect intermediate screen size. The way to achieve the phablet lifestyle is to combine the right phablet with wirelessly connected wearable computing.

One company appears to have figured this out. In the past week, Sony announced three products, all shipping in September, that will usher in a true phablet scenario for those who embrace it.

The first of these products is — you guessed it! — a really, really big phone.

Sony's fantastic 'phablet' formula
Sony announced this week a giant phone called the Xperia Z Ultra. It's got a 6.4-inch screen.

That's slightly bigger even than Samsung's ginormous Galaxy Mega, which has a 6.3-inch screen.

It's also thin: At 6.5 millimeters, the Xperia Z Ultra is significantly thinner than an iPhone 5. That's ever so slightly over one quarter of an inch thick.

Functionally, the phone is like other smartphones, but with Sony's software on top. It's a very powerful phone, powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 2.2GHz quad-core processor and running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.

 

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