Phone + tablet = ?

If you love using your tablet, but you wish it were a phone too, you are probably the target market for the latest addition to the mobile device family: the phablet.

Yes, we have smartphones, and large tablets and mini tablets, so it was only a matter of time before someone developed the obvious portmanteau for “small tablet you can make phone calls on”. Look how earnestly Techcrunch use the word in this article*:

Why don’t I like it? It doesn’t sound enough like a phone. A “fablet” (which is what you’d say out loud) might be some sort of “fun tablet” or a “fake tablet” or any number of other things. It’s not immediately clear what a phablet is. Beyond that, it’s a pretty ugly word – “phab” is not an attractive collection of letters. It seems that companies are desperately keen to carve their own niches in the mobile device market, and will use neologisms, suffixes and any other weapons they can to do that.

So let’s take this to its logical conclusion, shall we? If there are netbooks – how about one that stores everything online? A “cloudbook”**? If we have laptops something half the size would be a “thightop”. A netbook you can make calls on would have to be a “netphone” (after all, “phonebook” is taken). And a fax machine for your lap would be the “lapfax”. How about a netbook without internet access? We could call it just a “book”.

What’s my point? Much as I like new words, there are things that have been coined that really never needed to be. “Phablet” may yet take off, but the word sounds about as awkward as holding up a 7″ tablet to your face and talking into it.

*To be fair to the author, she does express misgivings about the word before using it repeatedly.

**I’m aware that I have basically just described a Chromebook – maybe a ChromebookMini?