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Adam Turner
Technology Journalist

Adam Turner is a Sydney Morning Herald senior technology columnist who has been writing about the challenges facing Australian business for more than a decade

Adam Turner
Technology Journalist

Adam Turner is a Sydney Morning Herald senior technology columnist who has been writing about the challenges facing Australian business for more than a decade

As smartphones get bigger and computers get smaller, where is the sweet spot in terms of productivity?

A decade ago we raced to build ever-smaller mobile phones, but these days bigger is considered better when you need to get some work done.

And phones weren't the only gadgets to undergo a major transformation in recent years. Clunky notebook PCs slimmed down, sleek tablets took off and convertible "hybrid" devices emerged as we strove to strike the perfect balance between portability and usability for working on the road.

computer and person holding phone

Make the call

Smartphones keep getting bigger for a reason. That extra screen real estate makes it easier to be productive, whether you're checking your email, working with Office files or just browsing the web. If a larger phone means you don't need to carry around a notebook or tablet, then it might be a worthwhile investment.

The sweet spot is a five-inch screen, give or take a bit, although newer “phablets” are pushing up towards six inches. Meanwhile, tablets are getting smaller as they converge on the perfect size combining portability and functionality.

If you'd rather keep the pint-sized phone in your pocket, you might make room for a seven-inch tablet in your bag or jacket pocket. Complementing your smartphone with a tablet also helps preserve the battery on your phone, so you're not left in the lurch at the end of the day.

Take note

Smartphones and tablets are amazing devices but there are still times when you need a full-blown computer at your fingertips.

Tiny netbooks burst onto the scene a few years ago but have fallen out of favour. The size of the screen dictates the size of the keyboard and manufacturers found that if your fingers are tripping over each other, it's hard to get much work done. Based on popularity, the ideal is an 11.6-inch or 13.3-inch screen.

While screen sizes have stabilised, competition is heating up to make devices thinner and lighter. A Super-slim UltrabookTM is the easiest to slip in your bag, but come at a premium for the slender design and extra grunt. For SMBs, an UltrabookTM might be worth it if you need a powerful notebook that will spend a lot of time on your shoulder.

To ensure you’re getting a product that meets your needs, decide what's essential and which limitations you can work around. Rather than a bulky notebook with a DVD drive, slipping an external USB DVD drive in your bag on days you think you'll need it can save on weight and cost.

Best of both worlds

If you're keen on a tablet but don't want to sacrifice the physical keyboard, then a wireless Bluetooth keyboard is a wise investment. Alternatively you might check out the new breed of "hybrid" convertible devices, which are basically a notebook with a hideaway or detachable keyboard.

And finally, the operating system. Fans of Windows should look to Microsoft's SurfaceTM Pro 3 or competitors like the HP Envy, Lenovo Yoga and Asus Transformer Book. If Google's AndroidTM software is more your style, you'll find a range of AndroidTM hybrids from HP, Lenovo, Asus and others.

Looking for a tablet that won’t weigh you down?

Check out Telstra’s range of tablets for business here.

Find Out More

Things you need to know: Ultrabook is a trademark of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and/or other countries.  Microsoft, Windows, Office and Suface Pro are either registered trade marks or trade marks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and other countries.  Android is a trade mark of Google, Inc. Other brands referred to in this article are trade marks of their respective owners.

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