In a post on the basic design conflicts between notebook computers and tablet computers
Laptop displays are generally at least 11.5 inches, and the 16:9 aspect ratio is almost an industry convention. That long rectangle gives us room to manipulate a windowed environment. Anything smaller requires voodoo to conjure a good experience out of the machine.
Tablet displays more or less max out at 10 inches, and the industry-leading iPad opts for a 4:3 aspect ratio. That lends itself to books, magazines, and Web pages.
With the Surface, Microsoft hedged its bet, and went with a 10.6-inch, 16:9 display.
That strikes the best balance we’ve seen yet between physical and digital usability, but it’s still far from perfect. Oversized tablets with a 16:9 aspect ratio feel awkward. Perhaps people have been conditioned to believe that words are best consumed in a space that feels like a standard, letter-sized paper page.
Aric Cheston, executive creative director at Frog Design, acknowledges an inherent tension.
“There’s a certain reality to be embraced about the legacy proportions,” he says. “You have to find a smart way of accommodating those.”
Adrian Covert doesn’t quite arrive at the most fundamental problem. The best metaphor for a consumer of written matter, the book, isn’t the the best metaphor for the producer of written matter, the scribe’s desk. Aric Cheston is wrong in dismissing these designs as “legacy proportions”. The different metaphors aren’t just what we’re accustomed to. They’re ergonomically optimum designs proven in the forge of thousands of years of experience.
A consumer’s needs are different from those of a producer. One size does not fit all.