What's a tablet?
A tablet is a portable personal computer equipped with a touch screen as a primary input device. Tablets may use virtual keyboards and handwriting recognition for text input through the touchscreen.
All tablets have a wireless adapter for internet and local network connection. Software applications for tablets include office suites, web browsers, games and a variety of applications.
Tablet sales are on the rise, and are expected to eclipse the sales of other personal computers in the next few years. In 2012 alone, global tablet sales were up 78.4%- that’s a whopping 128 million devices shipped. They may only now be taking over, but the concept has been around for ages. Remember the original sixties series of Star Trek, with crew members carrying large, wedge-shaped electronic clipboards, operated through the use of a stylus? Speaking of which, the US patent on an electrical stylus device for capturing handwriting was first granted in 1888, over 120 years ago!
Why would I want one?
Tablets are ridiculously easy to use, very portable and ultra-convenient. You can relax on the sofa as you check e-mails or update your social networking sites. Thanks to their compact size, you can take them on weekends away, making it simple to check on a museum's website for opening times, for instance.
Tablets run 'apps' as well - fun or practical programs designed to make work and play easier and more intuitive. These can vary from anything like games and creativity software like photo and video editors, to research tools, word processing packages and news aggregators.
What are the choices?
The brand that's brought the tablet to everybody's consciousness is Apple. Despite growing competition, the California-based technology behemoth accounted for 43.6% of all tablets shipped in 2012 with its iPad range, and it's easy to see why. The iPad runs the same operating system as the iPod touch and iPhone - and can run its own applications as well as iPhone applications.
The iPad with Retina Display - the latest incarnation - has a super-sharp Retina display, along with front and rear-facing cameras designed for FaceTime video messaging - capable of messaging with Mac computers running OS X 10.6.6 and higher and any iPhones and iPod Touches with a front-facing camera. devices. A dual core processor with quad core graphics ensures that this tablet is super-responsive too! Last year, Apple also released a smaller model, the iPad Mini, which retains the functionality of its flagship model, but with a smaller display.
There are plenty of other options too. For example, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is packed with features, such as a powerful quad core processor built to multi-task and run apps and games smoothly. It also has a stylus pen built into the side, for simple navigation and use of handwriting when making notes or writing messages. A high definition screen allows for excellent quality playback of videos and there are front and rear cameras for taking photos and using video calling applications. The Google Play Store is pre-installed, allowing access to loads of apps and games purpose built for devices such as this, so that you can really explore what a tablet is capable of.