Size matters

Size mattersI went to see the new X-Men film the other day. It was surprisingly good, actually. On the train home I sent one of my mates an email and innocently threw in a brief recommendation. Little did I expect that said recommendation would lead to hours of furious debate.

My mate – let’s call him Jim – said he’d probably, er, acquire (legally, of course) a copy of the film when it was released on DVD in a few months, and watch it on his phone at work. I suggested that films are best viewed on the big screen, and that’s when all hell broke loose.

I’ll spare you the full, unedited, thousand-word transcript; the following is the gist of our correspondence.

Jim insisted that films are only as good as their scripts, directors and actors; it doesn’t matter what size of screen you watch on. Furthermore, not going to the cinema offers the added bonus of being able to pause the film to go for a pee and/or make a cup of tea or whatever.

I replied with the suggestion that larger screens are better, period. Well, within reason. That’s why people have large-screened TVs in their living rooms. Would you rather have a 26in screen or 42in? The only reason you wouldn’t choose the 42in TV is if it didn’t fit or looked stupid in the context of the room. Otherwise, given the choice, you’d go for a larger screen because it’s conducive to a more immersive viewing experience.

I concede that Jim might genuinely prefer watching films in the comfort of his own home instead of going to the cinema, but even then – surely he’d choose to watch on the biggest screen available? Let’s say he has a 3.7in Desire, a 10.1in iPad and a 40in TV; is there really any choice?

I can honestly say I have never watched a film on my phone. Ever. If I’m on a long train journey, for example, I’d much rather read a book and/or listen to music than watch a film or TV program on a tiny screen.

It’s a similar story with those little airplane screens; I’ll rarely watch any films that I haven’t seen before. I recently started watching the penultimate Harry Potter movie mid-flight and gave up in less than a minute.

Perhaps I’m in the minority here. Maybe I’m being a big pretentious film Nazi. Probably.

The analogy I drew – and I reckon this hits the nail right on the head – is that films are literally made for the cinema, and similarly: music should ideally be listened to in stereo, if not through headphones. Now, if someone doesn’t like going to the cinema, or doesn’t mind listening to music in mono (through a phone’s internal speaker, say), that isn’t wrong per se, but you’re not experiencing the product as it was intended.

Maybe that’s why tablets don’t appeal to me. Well, part of the reason, anyway. If I’m at home, I’ve got my TV; if I’m on the move, if I’ve got my iPod and my book. Simple.

Am I being a stubborn old git? Do you regularly watch films on your smartphone or tablet? Feel free to deconstruct my argument below. And convince me to buy a tablet while you're at it. I kind of want to want one.

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6 comments

emmajk42 / MOD  Jun. 15, 2011 at 13:28

Never ever watched a movie on my phone, I'd imagine it would be pretty annoying. I've watched youtube clips of course, but you're talking mere minutes with those. I have watched a few TV shows on my iPad, only for handiness though (while cooking in the kitchen). Everything else goes on the 42" TV where possible. Size matters.

CTPAHHIK  Jun. 15, 2011 at 14:27

Depends on what you watching. If there are no action and no visual effects size does not matter.
If you watch news, do you really care how big screen is? You are mostly listening and not really watching. There are a lot of movies where screen size or resolution does not matter.

blizzard7  Jun. 15, 2011 at 14:31

Music is only as good as the lyrics, production values, tune, singer, musicians are, but would you rather listen to it on a tinny phone speaker or a Bose sound system? Granted, he said he'll watch it at work which suggests he's making use of downtime where he won't have access to a TV but still it really does matter how big the screen is (in relation to how far away you are from your TV of course).

Andy247  Jun. 15, 2011 at 14:32

I've never watched a film on my phone, I agree that the larger the screen the better and that films were made to be shown in theatres on a large screen. That said, a film like To Kill a Mockingbird loses none of it's power on a smaller screen, but a special effects laden blockbuster, like X-Men First Class, surely would.

mrew42  Jun. 15, 2011 at 16:47

Chewing gum for the eyes versus a feast for the senses?
Big screen is the best way to enjoy such Marvels (geddit?) but all credit to thos who can enjoy movies anywhere. It's not for me though.

bex85  Jul. 15, 2011 at 22:29

I used to watch films/tv shows on my PSP all the time. Whether waiting for my mum to pick me up, passing some time or on the train. Used it most often on the train. And now I use my phone. Although I did order a tablet for my latest train journey and watched some episodes of the simpsons on it while I travelled as, obviously bigger than my phone screen but, would have been happy to use my phone. But my partner insisted I have a tablet :p lol. Also read some of my book on the train to take a break from tv. But yeah, if im in the house, id probably use my laptop but, i have still watched stuff on my phone at home, because i had my phone next to me/laptop was off and my partner doesnt want to watch it on the TV, so makes sense for me to watch it "privately".

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