Toshiba's 13-incher: When is a tablet too big?

Will Toshiba's Excite 13 induce arm and neck pain?

Tablet computers are meant to be held, at least most of the time. But at what point does a slate become too unwieldy to function as a handheld device? The new Toshiba Excite 13, with its gargantuan (by tablet standards) 13.3-inch display, may soon answer that question.

To briefly summarize what my PCWorld colleague Daniel Ionescu wrote earlier today, the Excite 13 is a quad-core beast that weighs in at 2.2 pounds. By comparison, the new iPad is 1.44 pounds, and the Kindle Fire is 14.6 ounces (0.91 pounds).

Toshiba wisely includes a stand with its $650 to $750 Excite 13, an essential tool for someone who plans to use the Excite 13 for an extended period; for example: streaming a 2-hour movie.

PCWorld's Melissa J. Perenson had the opportunity to hold the Excite 13, and says that while it's indeed larger than she's used to, the early prototype feels surprisingly reasonable to hold for short periods and the components seem well-balanced. Perenson says that while there's no way you'd want to hold the Excite 13 for any considerable length of time, or hold it one-handed to read a book, it's more manageable than its behemoth size might indicate.

Too Big?

The Excite 13's main attribute--a really big screen--may also turn out to be its biggest shortcoming. Prolonged tablet use can lead to arm, shoulder, and neck strain, a health issue that may become more commonplace as slates replace desktop and laptop computers in various work environments, including hospitals, restaurants, and factories.

A 2011 medical study by Harvard and Microsoft shows that tablet usage has a greater impact on head and neck posture than conventional PCs.

A tablet may be easy to hold for twenty minutes, but not for several hours. Touchscreens raise ergonomic issues as well, particularly if the user keeps one arm in an elevated position all day to tap the display.

No Pain, No Gain

To be fair, it's too early to denounce the Excite 13 - or any tablet, for that matter - as an ergonomic menace. But if a holding stand becomes an essential component of large tablets - a peripheral necessary to reduce health risks associated with daily slate usage - the go-anywhere convenience of tablet computing may be less appealing to professional users, such as health care workers who cradle slates while visiting patients.

Or should we all start pumping iron to prepare for the next round of 15- and 17-inch tablets?

Contact Jeff Bertolucci at Today@PCWorld, Twitter (@jbertolucci) or jbertolucci.blogspot.com.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeff Bertolucci

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?