x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

The Phablet? Not quite phabulous

Sometimes blended words simply fail to inspire the imagination.

As new words go, phablet has managed an unlikely achievement: it is as clunky and unwieldy as the object it describes.

Coined last year to describe the design convergence of two of the major tech trends of the last few years, smartphones and tablet computers, it refers to web-browsing devices with screens measuring between 12cm and 18cm.

Reactions to this latest portmanteau have been almost universally negative, in contrast to the relatively easy adoption of earlier word-blends such as podcast (iPod and broadcast), webinar (a seminar done via the world wide web) and blog (short for web-log).

The question is whether this antipathy is being prompted by the awkward wordplay that spawned the word “phablet” or by the concept of the object being described, being too big to be a phone and yet too small to be a tablet.

And then of course there is the implicit assumption that it will render redundant technology enthusiasts’ recent but substantial investments in their smartphones and tablet computers.

Sometimes such blends – whether of words or of technology – simply fail to inspire the imagination. Are we sure? Posinitely.