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I made myself try a 14.5-inch tablet — and it didn’t go very well

Holding the Lenovo Tab Extreme.
Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

Everyone has a tablet these days — whether it’s an Apple iPad or an Android tablet from Samsung, Lenovo, or even OnePlus. Tablets are great devices, as they let you be productive or stay entertained when a smartphone or a laptop just won’t do. And in some ways, they are easier to carry around than a full-on laptop.

But I think there’s a limit. Tablets come in all sorts of sizes, from the super-portable iPad mini to large behemoths like the Lenovo Tab Extreme and Samsung’s Galaxy S8 Ultra.

I just reviewed the 14.5-inch Lenovo Tab Extreme, and while there are certainly benefits to having such a large tablet, it’s also a double-edged sword in some ways, especially when it comes to portability.

11-inch tablets are the perfect size

Green OnePlus Pad Android tablet on top of space gray 11-inch M1 iPad Pro 2021.
Tushar Mehta/Digital Trends

Though I don’t upgrade my iPad every year as I do with my iPhone, I’ve gone through various iPad models over the years. From the original 9.7-inch iPad to the iPad mini 4 to the second-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro, I’ve tried most iPad sizes out by this point. And my personal favorite size is actually the 11-inch iPad Pro or even the OnePlus Pad. I think they’re the perfect size.

I want my tablet to be bigger than my smartphone, of course, but I also don’t want it to be so big that it’s hard to carry, which is a problem I have with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. I appreciate having more screen space when I’m out and about or just want to wind down watching a streaming movie or show, or even play some games or read a book. More screen real estate also helps when editing photos, which I often do for work.

The iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max all lying on a table.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

With that in mind, the iPad mini would suffice for a few of those things, but not all. But if I’m getting a tablet, I want it to be a lot bigger than, say, an iPhone 14 Pro Max. The iPad mini is just too similar to that size to be useful.

I haven’t had an iPad Air, but I still have a 2020 11-inch iPad Pro, and it’s my favorite. The 11-inch display gives me plenty of space for watching videos, reading, playing games, and checking my social media, email, and messages. If I need to write or edit photos, there’s enough space to comfortably do that, too, without it being cramped or too large. I also love it for signing documents when I need to.

For me, the 11-inch iPad Pro is like the Goldilocks size of tablet. It gives you plenty of space to do whatever you need on it without ever feeling like it’s “too much.” And it should easily fit in whatever bag you’re already using for carrying your laptop around without adding too much extra weight.

Need a large tablet? Why not use a laptop?

Lenovo Tab Extreme showing Disney Plus.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

The Lenovo Tab Extreme is one of the largest tablets that I’ve ever used, and honestly, I’m not a fan. During my testing of the device, I noticed some things about it that I just didn’t like because of the unwieldy size.

First off, it’s huge. When I use tablets, I prefer them to be just a tablet rather than a laptop replacement. I use a 27-inch iMac for work, and I have a 13-inch MacBook Pro if I need to work on the go. Even with an iPad, I was never a big fan of replacing my laptop with a tablet with a keyboard accessory that turns it into a pseudo-laptop because of software limitations (with both iOS and Android) — I’ll never be as productive on a tablet as I am on an actual computer with macOS or even Windows.

With that in mind, I like to just lay back on the couch with a tablet and check my email and social media, watch some videos, or play a few games. Because of the sheer size of the Lenovo Tab Extreme, it’s hard to do that. And when I try to use it in the keyboard case, it’s so top-heavy that it always feels like it’s about to fall off my lap; it’s definitely one of those tablets that you need to use on a table or a flat surface.

The idea of a large tablet may be appealing to some people who want to use it for work, and I get that. In fact, it might even be cheaper than buying a laptop around that same size (15 inches). But I feel that you could also just sacrifice an inch or two and get a slightly smaller laptop for around the same price, and it would be better for productivity, with real multitasking and actual desktop applications. No matter how good a tablet app is, the desktop versions never need to make compromises.

It’s just not my cup of tea

Back of a Lenovo Tab Extreme with Precision Pen 3.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

I can see why some people may have an interest in these extremely large tablets, but for me, it’s just too big. One of the reasons why I like tablets is that they can be more portable than a laptop.

But when you go to such large sizes, especially with a keyboard case that also adds some weight and bulk, it just kind of defeats the purpose for me. At that point, if you’re going for a laptop experience, why not just get an actual laptop?

Thankfully, the tablet market isn’t flooded with these super-large tablets. This niche corner of the tablet market only has devices like the Lenovo Tab Extreme that I just reviewed or the Samsung Galaxy S8 Ultra, though Samsung is expected to reveal the Galaxy S9 Ultra very soon.

I think the 11-inch size for a tablet is simply the perfect threshold, so I’ll just be sticking to that. Maybe I’m in the minority here, but seriously, no one really needs a gigantic tablet.

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Christine Romero-Chan
Christine Romero-Chan has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade. She graduated from California…
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