With all kinds of digital content, from humble blogs to Hollywood blockbusters, becoming a more important part of our lives, it's becoming clear that many consumers would benefit from something small and lightweight enough to carry with them throughout the day, more optimized for eyes and fingers than mouths and ears.
These everyday mobile companions are offering unprecedented capabilities and useful battery life. And faster wireless networks on the way promise to keep them connected. Their potential lies in that elastic space between consumers' tolerance for too limited a device and their patience for reaching a less accessible one.
Ross Rubin is director of industry analysis for consumer technology at The NPD Group.