Time To Think Thick?

More laptops and phones should aspire for better battery life, not thinness - The Verge

This article popped up on theVerge a day ago, and it caused me consider my personal circumstances. I have a new Surface Pro 8 sitting next to a 4 (or 5?) year old ZBook X2. We all know how svelte the Pro 8 is, while the X2 weighs over 4 pounds and is nearly twice as thick. Yet I really, really like the X2. Its keyboard is better, its screen is larger, it has an excellent assortment of ports and although the Pro 8 is probably more powerful, the X2 still performs very competitively. Other factors, such as inking and display quality are a push.

At the time that the X2 was introduced, “thin” was still the mantra of the day, and the X2 definitely looked out of step. But the years have shown me the value of thinking thicker rather than thinner and I think it’s a lesson that still has value today…


I think that thickness in a handheld tablet is actually an important ergonomic and functional choice. The difference between a tablet that is 1/4 of an inch thick and a tablet that .4 inches thick or half an inch thick is actually real. And I feel like shaving off half a pound on a handheld tablet makes a legitimate difference in how much I use it.

Having said that, I’ve never understood the desire for incredible thinness in a laptop. Even a two and one convertible, which is primarily use cradled in the arm or on a table like a notebook. There’s so many functional reasons to have a slightly thicker laptop. I miss keyboards that were tactile and had real key travel. Besides the benefits for battery life and cooling and ports. The choice is obvious that a laptop that is .75 inches thick provides a great many more functional benefits than one that is .45” thick or some such thing.

I feel like the ergonomic sweet spot for laptops was actually reached a few years ago when they were all around 3/4 of an inch thick and 3 1/2 or so pounds. If we could get back closer to that shape and weight, with the upgrades we’ve made for battery life and cooling, we would have a superb machine with room for a far better typing experience, room for a siloed stylus, and better speakers in addition.


Also, just to say- I love my ReMarkable tablet, and part of the reason is that it’s .25” thick and something like only .75 lbs. it so light and thin!! It’s fantastic to use in the hand for reading and making notes in the field. It gets away with it because the e-ink screen uses very little battery life. But the real point is that, ergonomically, it’s stellar. So, as a tablet, I appreciate it it’s lack of bulk and weight far more than I do for my laptop.


My Thinkpad X301 was the pinnacle in business laptop design. I loved everything about it, kept it for years and would probably still have one if Lenovo hadn’t abandoned the design for the overly slick X1 Carbon.

Now, tablets on the other hand should be less than 11" and thin.

My Boox Nova Color is the only thing I take with me for most field work. I can read anything in direct sunlight (actually the more the better) and the note taking is excellent. It is light and thin, so easy to hold and write on.

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