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Tablet Computers: Five Things You Need to Know

By Agam Shah on Thu, March 25, 2010

Apple's iPad brings tablet computers back into the limelight but will these devices fulfill your needs?

They're not mini-laptops. Tablets are handheld devices with touch screens ranging in size from five to 10 inches. Also called "slates" by PC makers, they include touch interfaces that allow users to surf the Web, play games, view movies and read e-books. One celebrated example is Apple's iPad, which was announced in January and goes on sale this month. Makers expected to start shipping devices later this year include Dell and Hewlett-Packard.

They fill a gap. The rapid growth of mobile Internet and touch screens has created a new class of computing devices for consumers, says Phil McKinney, Hewlett-Packard's CTO. Tablets enable mobile access to online content like newspapers, movies and games. Apple CEO Steve Jobs surfed the Internet and watched a movie on the iPad while sitting on a couch at that tablet's unveiling. He said the iPad is meant to fill the void between the iPhone and the MacBook laptop.

They're Best for fun. Tablets have drawbacks compared to laptops (no keyboard, limited software support), but they work well as entertainment devices and e-book readers. Tablet users need to hang up their PC reliance, says Vira Chen, assistant product manager at Micro-Star International, a Taiwan-based PC maker. A lot of trial and error goes into perfecting these devices, and the most innovative company will win, Chen says.

They Travel Well. The device is mostly for casual use, but tablets could find some business uses. David Milman, CEO of computer repair firm Rescuecom, says that tablets could replace laptops for presentations and working on planes. "Certainly getting through security would be easier with an iPad than with a 4-pound laptop and all of its accessories," Milman says. But tablets could break if subjected to rigorous use, so they need to be designed to be more rugged.

Business uses are limited. Analysts say tablets will suit niche markets, like workers recording field data. But there are obstacles too, says Steve Rausch, director of information services at Gibson General Hospital in Princeton, Ind. "I know our doctors would love the iPad if it could run our software. It's light, comfortable, and something they're used to since they have iPhones," he says. Right now the iPad only runs applications from Apple's App Store

Google Reviews

Howard Reviews
Howard Reviews
in the last week
Rescuecom has been the most professional and knowledgeable group that I have ever dealt with in rega
...Rescuecom has been the most professional and knowledgeable group that I have ever dealt with in regard to my major computer problems.David, Bill and Forrest have helped fix my computer issues which other companies couldn't fix.I was glad i signed up with Rescuecom after researching many other computer companies. Thanks again guys. less
Guadalupe Salinas
Guadalupe Salinas
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Extremely fast and got to the point!
...Extremely fast and got to the point! less
Olga Ostapenko
Olga Ostapenko
a week ago
Great experience. Provided me with the help that I needed while being extremely professional. The ye
...Great experience. Provided me with the help that I needed while being extremely professional. The yearly subscription also includes aid with your phone, not just computer, which is extremely convenient. William Barr was awesome! less
Jay Tee
Jay Tee
a week ago
Bill was excellent! I was a little worried at first that he didn't understand the problem, but I le
...Bill was excellent! I was a little worried at first that he didn't understand the problem, but I let him do his thing and the issue was resolved. He was extremely patient with us as well. This is the 3rd time that I have used the service and it is worth every penny!Janet-Baltimore less
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