Gadgets: Does size really matter?

25 Jul 2011


Gadgets seem to be getting smaller all the time. Top tech manufacturers are in a constant race to produce the thinnest laptop or the tiniest mp3 player.

Here's one man who probably thinks smaller is better…

Sony has just pulled the covers off what it claims to be the world's thinnest digital camera. At just 12.2mm thick, the TX55 is actually thinner than an AA battery, but still manages to pack 12mp of goodness into its slender body.

Apple loves making things smaller. The MacBook Air is among the thinnest laptops you can buy, while the iPods have shrunk with every generation, with the iPod Nano being the smallest so far.

But not everyone (particularly those of us who are less dexterous and have bigger hands) is fully on board with the shift to the smaller. Here's the case for and against…

Why gadgets are small enough

Small gadgets look great in the box. "Wow, you wouldn't have thought they'd be able to make an mp3 player that small…"

It's only once you get them out of the box and into your hands that you begin to find things a little frustrating. Finding the 'on' button on a tiny gadget can be difficult enough until you have to work through intricate menu systems. There's nothing more frustrating then accidentally scrolling past what you want because you can't control your gadget.

The smaller these pesky little gadgets get, the easier they are to lose. Say what you want about the old school Sony Walkman cassette player, but it didn't go missing down the back of a sofa. The iPod Nano can be difficult to find in the average pocket on a pair of jeans.

But what should trouble any true gadget lover about smaller tech is the usual drop in performance and increase in price. If gadgets were meant to be any smaller, then they would have come in that size in the first place. Full size is the premium way to enjoy tech.

Smaller is better

The number one benefit of tinier gadgets is that they're so cool. Would you want to be seen wielding a mobile phone the size of a brick? I don't think so. Smaller gadgets tend to be newer, with flashier designs - leaving the oversized image in the 20th century.

Aside from the fashion statement you can make with smaller gadgets, they have a genuine practical benefit. You'll really see the value of tinier tech when you're going on holiday and suitcase space is at a premium.

But it's when you use modern gadgets every day that you really feel the benefit. If you tuck an mp3 player in your pocket to accompany you on a run, then you don't want to be carrying any unnecessary weight.

Leading tech innovators are constantly striving to develop smaller and faster chips for laptops and mp3 players, so the battery size and capacity of gadgets will continue to improve, even if the physical size of the whole product shrinks.

Are you a fan of small gadgets or do you struggle to get your fingers round them? Comment below or tweet @DixonsinTheKnow