Abstract—Existing information-visualization techniques that target small screens are usually limited to exploring a few hundred items. In this article we present a scatterplot tool for Personal Digital Assistants that allows the handling of many thousands of items. The application’s scalability is achieved by incorporating two alternative interaction techniques: a geometric-semantic zoom that provides smooth transition between overview and detail, and a fisheye distortion that displays the focus and context regions of the scatterplot in a single view. A user study with 24 participants was conducted to compare the usability and efficiency of both techniques when searching a book database containing 7500 items. The study was run on a pen-driven Wacom board simulating a PDA interface. While the results showed no significant difference in task-completion times, a clear majority of 20 users preferred the fisheye view over the zoom interaction. In addition, other dependent variables such as user satisfaction and subjective rating of orientation and navigation support revealed a preference for the fisheye distortion. These findings partly contradict related research and indicate that, when using a small screen, users place higher value on the ability to preserve navigational context than they do on the ease of use of a simplistic, metaphor-based interaction style. Index Terms—Small screen, PDA, scatterplot, zoom, fisheye, focus+context.
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