The UX of Netbook Form Factors

Devices are going through an incredible period of experimentation on form factor.  Some examples:

  1. Kindle:  Super lightweight, fits in my wife’s purse.  Highly targeted functionality.
  2. EeePC: 10″, lightweight, long battery life, Windows 7 laptop.
  3. iPhone: Fits in your pocket, uses your finger as stylus.  Specialized OS favoring apps.
  4. Tablets: Swivel screen that folds to reveal/hide full keyboard.

Of course, the perfect form factor is holographic and I can touch it in mid-air, or maybe it just reads my mind!  Other than that, there is no perfect device form.

The creative tension is between these values that appeal to users:  (Each one is usually diametrically opposite to the other.)

I want…But also…
Long BatteryLightweight
FastCool to touch (Faster processors get very hot)
Big screenFits in pocket
Easy to typeSleek
Rich experienceEasy to Learn
Lots of appsStandardized
Ubiquitous internet accessCheap
Single purposeMulti purpose

Given these dimensions, manufacturers are going to try every conceivable combination.  As materials/components get stronger, lighter and faster, developers are going to create more and more interesting applications.  There is an inexorable march towards smaller, more powerful devices.  We are going to see more cross-application convergence, like TV-Device and Car-Device and Home-Device.

I’ve seen alot of blog posts lately talking about the netbooks as if it is one thing.  It is not.  It’s a series of evolutionary steps towards more and more awesome devices.  It looks to me to be a period of intense innovation made possible by the materials/components evolution.

2 replies on “The UX of Netbook Form Factors”

Hey Glen,

No comments on the Jets win Saturday? Good win for them and the Patriots also lost. I bet it was a happy weekend for you.


Whatya think?