We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
 

Buyers guide: Why you should buy a tablet PC

What you need to know about the new spate of slates

Tablet PCs bridge the gap between what PCs and Mobile phones do. Unlike earlier, arguably premature efforts to transform tablet computing into a mass-market reality, today's models are here to stay. The new wave of slates is rolling in fast and furious, here's just what you need to know about the new generation of tablets.

The world of computing is at a crossroads. The primary computer for most users today is not a PC; it's a phone.

While the PC sits on a desk at the office or at home, smartphones go everywhere with us and integrate into every part of our lives. But despite getting smarter and smarter, phones are too small to replace PCs completely. We need a device that bridges the gap between what PCs do and what mobile phones do. That device has arrived. Welcome to the age of the tablet.

Unlike earlier, arguably premature efforts to transform tablet computing into a mass-market reality, today's models are here to stay. The new wave of slates is rolling in fast and furious, offering a tsunami of diverse options for every user.

Tablet PCs: Break from the past

The concept of a tablet PC isn't new, but its definition has radically changed. What we used to call a tablet was just a laptop with a screen that swivelled around and folded back, yielding a bulky machine that was uncomfortable to carry as a slate and awkward to use as a laptop. That unsatisfactory hybrid was simply where the state of technology took us in previous efforts to create 'tablet' or 'slate' computers.

Things shifted thanks to advances in smartphone tech­nology. When the Apple iPad hit the market last spring, critics quickly dubbed it a giant iPhone without the phone. That description speaks to the technology that makes possible the iPad's appealing dimensions, but it does not do justice to the iPad. In fact, the iPad altered everything we thought we knew about tablets, and other hardware manufacturers are following up on Apple's success quickly.

Today's tablet is exactly what the name implies: a thin slab, dominated by its screen. These slender systems generally max out at 750g, and few of them take up more space in your bag than an old-fashioned composition book would. The software for tablets has changed, as well. Instead of struggling to run a full-fledged version of Windows, which requires a significant amount of processing power and isn't optimised for use with a touchscreen, most new tablet models released nowadays run a relatively lightweight, touchscreen-focused mobile operating system such as Apple iOS or Google Android.

In the coming year, we are bound to see an astounding array of new tablets, including offerings from every major computer and phone maker, in many different sizes.

NEXT PAGE: A clean slate

  1. The new spate of slates
  2. A clean slate
  3. Great expectations
  4. A few more hurdles

IDG UK Sites

Samsung Gear 2 review: Classy Tizen smartwatch is too expensive

IDG UK Sites

Eight possible names for the next version of Mac OS X: What will Apple call the follow-up to Maveri?......

IDG UK Sites

Why our gadgets will kill us all: bleating notifications, too many chargers and the proliferation...

IDG UK Sites

Inside Twitter's new design and ad offerings