Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

When It Comes to Tech, Size Matters

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the Internet.

Big, small or in-between? When dealing with tech, it seems that there are preferences, and fortunately there options currently.

Long, long ago and far away, back in the disco days of the 1970s, the only available computer to me was a massive, computer punchcard-eating behemoth that appeared to take up the entire basement of my college library. While it was a floor-to-ceiling piece of junk by today's standards, size was not an issue -- because if you wanted to work on a computer, that was the only game in town. I declined.

Some years later, the personal computer was developed. Indeed, eventually CPUs, monitors and keyboards could be found in lawyers' offices. No longer were lawyers completely dependent on their secretaries/assistants for word processing and other functions. Lawyers were freed from dictation and hand-written red-lining of drafts of documents. Obviously, of course, this "new" technology, while a great advance, still did not allow for much choice when it came to size.

But then laptop technology developed. Computers became mobile. Lawyers could take their portable computers with them on the go. They could even use laptops during meetings/negotiations, and in depositions and in court. The first wave of laptops were fairly heavy and bulky. Over time, they became lighter and more nimble.

And once upon a time, telephones were wired into phone jacks. If you wanted to speak on the telephone, you essentially were tethered in place.

But, as we all know, mobile phone technology came onto the scene. The original mobile phones were unwieldy contraptions. Indeed, the large phone and its companion battery pack basically filled an entire carrying briefcase.

Long story short, the phones became smaller as did computers, and then there was the great convergence. Computers also became telephones and telephones became computers. All in one wireless device, practically every function imaginable now can be accomplished. Sure, documents can be created and phone calls can be made, but lawyers also can text, email, post, conduct research, make purchases, and organize in ways never before imaginable.

Enter the size issue. It seemed for a while, the smaller the device, the better. The more technology that could be packed into smaller and smaller devices, the greater the appeal. This represented progress. Lawyers at times moved away from laptops to their handheld devices.

But the smaller devices had tiny screens and felt cramped for some functions. As a result, rather than going completely back to laptops, tablets were developed. Tablets are not as big as laptops, but not as small as handheld devices.

If this were not enough, tablets themselves come in different sizes. And then handheld devices started coming in various sizes. Indeed, with other mobile phones offering larger screens in the marketplace, Apple's new iPhone 6 likewise can boast a larger screen than the iPhone 5 and prior iPhones.

Apple wants it both ways currently in the marketplace. Not only is it offering the new larger screen iPhone 6, but it also is coming out with its wrist wear Apple Watch.

And, of course, there is other wearable small technology available, such as Google Glass. Perhaps at some point we will have technology accessible in our contact lenses.

Cutting to the chase, when it comes to size, there are so many choices out there right now. Some lawyers may prefer to work primarily on their desktop computers, others may choose their laptops, and others still may like their tablets, while there are so many choices when it comes to the size of handheld and other devices.

One size does not fit all, and fortunately currently there is an abundance of choice out there right now.

Eric Sinrod (@EricSinrod on Twitter) is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP, where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. You can read his professional biography here. To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod's columns, please email him at ejsinrod@duanemorris.com with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's law firm or its individual partners.

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