Does Size Matter?

Trusty old friend.
Trusty old friend.

I’ve been a fan of the BlackBerry physical keyboard (PKB) since I got my first 9900, I believe, in 2008. Having a PKB typically means you give up some screen size, except in the event you get a Torch or other type of slider or similar device. Many of us BlackBerry enthusiasts are constantly looking for the ultimate BlackBerry, but not because the current devices available or the ones we own, are not adequate or even great for our needs. It’s more like the surfer on a constant search for the ultimate wave; it’s because we love the company and mobile tech and enjoy the search or journey of finding that elusive perfect device. Those of us that do this are probably also a bit “particular” (anal?) in that we have high expectations and will scrutinize devices and features very carefully. We also probably spend more than we should on devices, but that’s a different story altogether.

Love this BBRY flip shell case.
Love this BBRY flip shell case. Make it for the Classic please!!!

I have settled on the BlackBerry Classic as the best device for my particular use and needs, BUT, I am really looking forward to the slider and also want a Passport. If/when I get them, I will have owned every BB10 device besides the Porsche models and the Leap. You may be thinking I’m crazy right now, or maybe you also have the Leap and Porsche models; I know there are many out there like me. In any event, I love the Classic and frankly, all my Berries. I’m currently using the Z10 to drive music through my home and car stereo and my Z30 with my SIM whenever the mood strikes me. I kind of thought I was done with the Q10, but yesterday I saw it sitting on the shelf where I keep my Berries, including my PlayBook, and it looked kind of lonely.

I picked it up and was immediately struck by how tiny it is. I’ve been using my Classic with an Otterbox Defender on it, which adds to the already solid and weighty feel of the Classic, so it makes sense that the Q10 would feel particularly small. Anyway, I tried typing on it to see how my muscle memory worked with the keyboard and it was great, just as I remember. The Classic keyboard is a little wider, essentially a single column of keys wider, but other than that, the two keyboards are almost indistinguishable. This works well for me because I was very fast on the Q10. I typed a few sentences in a note and really enjoyed the incredibly small footprint and light weight of my old daily driver. I tried to sort of put it out of my mind, but due to my sickness, I relented and activated it on my Verizon account.

What prompted this post is that I finally, really noticed the difference in resolution between the Classic and Q10. Maybe it took a couple weeks of using the Classic before I could notice. I’m very pleased with the Classic screen, but when using the Q10, you note that things are a bit sharper and crisper. I like the color palette of the Classic better and the size is better for me as well, but I began thinking about screen size and wondered “how important is it REALLY?” Clearly as someone who loves the PKB, I’m willing to give up some screen size for the keyboard (and toolbelt in the case of the Classic), but I think there’s something else going on here.

The Q10 is so tiny! Very light weight too!
The Q10 is so tiny! Very light weight too!

I was late to the monster-flat-panel-HD-TV game. In fact, I own a nice 48″ Vizio with all the services preloaded to watch YouTube, Netflix, Amazon, etc., but my cable is owned by my landlord and it’s not digital so I still run my cable through a 35″ Sukiaki picture tube TV, or whatever it is… sorry, it’s a Panasonic. But my point is that a lot of the stuff we think we “can’t live without,” or really need, is actually just stuff we’re used to, and I think this applies very well to screen size. I honestly never missed having a flat panel with a digital signal, and although I’d like to portray myself as very sophisticated and above watching TV, I am a regular consumer, and love Big Bang Theory, Suits, NCIS, Hawaii Five-O, etc., never mind Major League Baseball and F1. Obviously, no one has unlimited funds and everyone has different priorities, so there may be an objective reason for me to suffer through a small screen, but can someone honestly say my enjoyment of TV programming has necessarily been somehow less because I had a smaller screen with lower resolution? I think that would be a tough argument to win. However, if 3 years ago, you gave me the awesome Vizio I have now, with a surround sound system and digital cable, and let me watch that for a few years, and then forced me to use the Panasonic, THAT would be somewhat painful.

New TV on top for Blue Ray and video streaming, old one for analog cable.
New TV on top for Blue Ray and video streaming, old one on bottom for analog cable.

It’s said that a middle class person does not suffer being so, unless they used to be a rich person. All I’m saying is that what you are accustomed to is a big factor in your relative enjoyment or satisfaction of certain things, and I think the screen size of mobile devices is a good example of this. What I realized is I can be perfectly happy using the Q10, all other things being equal, if I just forget about that big Z30 screen or Passport screen and just enjoy the form factor for what it is. It’s incredibly small and light weight; you can put the Q10 in the pocket of a button down dress shirt! There is definitely value to that form factor.

Poison Dart Frog; small but potent!
Poison Dart Frog; small but potent!

When I think about what people are trying to do with small screens on smart watches and how much money companies are pouring into them and other wearables, I wonder if you advocate in favor of these devices, how tall of a horse you can ride regarding screen size. I realize it’s all about use case, meaning, if you like to game or watch video, or in the case of the Passport, you need to work with a lot of documents, then you may need a bigger screen. However, I think there are people out there who become enamored with the bigger screens even though a Q10 screen may be adequate and more importantly, the overall form factor of the Q10 (or Classic for that matter) might be better for their needs.

In the interest of disclosure, as I said before, I am waiting for the slider to come out and for Verizon to carry the Passport, but if I had to pick one device, it would be the Classic. So always pick the device that’s right for you, regardless of what the market tells you, and definitely keep in mind, that your enjoyment of your device screen, whatever the size, is not only a function of the actual size, it’s also hugely impacted by your perception and what you’re used to. If you’re enjoying your Q10 or Classic and you’re wondering what you’re missing, you might not be missing anything.

james pisano

RIM/BB fan since 2009. Wouldn't consider entrusting my career, life or privacy to another platform. Foremost, I am a student of life. Some likes: longboarding, nature, Baltimore Orioles, technology, driving, music, reading and Taoism. Politically independent.