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What is a Tablet PC?

A Tablet PC combines the computing power of a laptop with the portability of a smartphone. It's a versatile device that supports touch and often pen input, ideal for on-the-go productivity, entertainment, and creativity. With a range of sizes and capabilities, there's a tablet to suit every need. Wondering which tablet might enhance your digital life? Let's explore the possibilities together.
R. Kayne
R. Kayne

A tablet personal computer (PC) is a cross between a laptop or notebook computer and a personal digital assistant (PDA). It's essentially a flat-panel portable computer. The user either taps on the screen with his or her finger or with a stylus, or he or she uses a stylus to write on the screen. A tablet PC can wirelessly connect to the Internet and other computers. The term "tablet PC" originally referred to a specific brand or tablets that were compatible with certain operating systems, but any tablet-sized computer has come to be referred to in some instances as a tablet PC.

The main feature of a tablet computer is portability. These devices typically are about the size of a thin book — roughly 7 to 8 inches (17.8 to 20.3 cm) wide by 9 to 10 inches (22.9 to 25.4 cm) tall and about 0.5 inches (1.27 cm) thick or less, although some might be slightly larger or smaller. They usually weigh less than 2 or 3 pounds (0.9 or 1.36 kg). Their size makes them convenient for businesspeople, students and just about anyone else to take with them in whatever they use to carry their belongings, such as a briefcase, backpack or purse.

Some tablets accept SIM cards.
Some tablets accept SIM cards.

Some tablet PCs come with detachable keyboards that allow them to function like laptop computers. Others have separate keyboards that are accessory items, rather than part of the normal device. There are even models that have the clamshell design of a typical laptop, with a literal twist — the screen can rotate 180 degrees and can be closed with the screen-side up so that the tablet PC can continue to be used without the keyboard.

A tablet's size makes it more convenient for users.
A tablet's size makes it more convenient for users.

A tablet PC can be used for many purposes, including business, education and entertainment. Many of these devices use the same operating systems as desktop or laptop computers and can be connected to them for things such as managing content and transferring files. Some tablet computers allow their users to download special applications that work only on specific brands or types of devices. Most are able to connect to the Internet using wireless technology, and some are able to do so through cellular phone communication technology, thereby giving their users Internet access in a much wider area.

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Discussion Comments


A tablet is usually a poor compromise between a laptop and a PDA. It's still something to lug around. I have a PDA (iPodTouch). A PDA or a smart phone is more portable. It fits in your pocket. It helps you stay organized. Keep important information at your fingertips. Take little notes.

I could see an iPad for certain occupations, like an auto accident appraiser, a home inspector, a doctor in a hospital (though my primary care doctor is in a big clinic and uses a laptop, because they have a full keyboard), anyone who needs extensive checklists, etc.

Maybe some coffee shops will rent iPads just for browsing the Web, so people don't have to lug them around.


Tablet PCs are able to be used away from the desktop, and differ considerably from PCs in many ways, including user interface, operating system, processor, and applications. Another crucial difference is that these tablets are used primarily as inexpensive media consumption devices, so raw processing power ("feeds and speeds") is not as important as the content distribution platform.


How do I reload the operating system since it doesn't have a cd-rom?


I love all the apps that available on a tablet PC. Many people are familiar with the iPad which is a great product, but there are other brands that are not as expensive.

Depending on how big you want your screen to be, they also come in different sizes. I have a mini tablet PC that has a 7 inch screen.

This would be too small for some people, but for me this is the perfect size and weight. It also comes with a detachable stand and keyboard which I love.


@ddljohn - Buying a refurbished tablet is a good idea. Especially if you don't want to put out a lot of money.

I have had my eye on a tablet PC for quite awhile now. I am most interested in the portability and the touch screen aspect of it.

I think that some day the desktop PC will not be nearly as widely used as it is today. Laptops and tablet PC's are probably going to be the way to go.

I have a Kindle reader that I like to read books on. This is especially handy for traveling. This is just for downloading and reading books though.

There are many times when I would like to do something else like watch a movie or play a game and don't want to bother with a cumbersome laptop. This is when a tablet PC would be the perfect choice.

I can also use it to read books and take pictures. With so many options and features, you wouldn't need to carry any other electronic device with you except for your phone.


@burcinc-- Why don't you get a refurbished tablet PC? That's what I did.

Refurbished means that someone bought a brand new tablet PC but returned it to the company because there was something wrong with it. Then, the company fixes the problem and sells it as refurbished with a much lower price tag. Sometimes, tablet PCs are sent back just because there was a tiny scratch on the case. So just because it was refurbished doesn't mean that there was something seriously wrong with it.

I think a tablet PC is becoming a must these days. Laptops are way too large and heavy and are becoming harder to carry around. Plus, we're so reliant on our computers these days that it's almost impossible to go around without one. A table PC is the perfect computer in my view. It has all you need and you can use it anywhere! I love mine, I'm so glad I got it.


@burcin-- You're right, there is a huge price difference. Last I checked, tablet PCs are more than twice the cost of reader tablets. But there is a good reason, they're not the same thing.

When reader tablets first came out, they had very few applications, mainly the ability to download and read electronic books. Now they have a few additional apps like internet access, games and so forth. Still, it's not comparable to a tablet PC which really is a compact PC. It can do everything that a PC can. You can work on word documents, work online, download things, listen to music, and on and on.

So the reader tablets are much more limited in scope and only lets you do a few things. That's why there is a price difference between the two. You're right about prices going down with time. Who knows, as reader tablets improve, these two tablets might become similar in price in a few years.


@mitchell14-- I know about the iPad, it created a frenzy when it first came out. I didn't buy one though, it was way too expensive. Usually when a new computer technology like the tablet notebook PC comes out, it's ridiculously expensive. After a few years though, the price goes down to something more affordable. I'm waiting for prices to go down more.

Do you know about the reading application tablets like NOOK? What's the difference between these and a tablet PC like iPad?

I've noticed that these reading tablets are much more affordable than tablet PCs. I don't know too much about the details but they seem fairly similar. So why the price difference?


I think the most famous tablet PC these days is probably the iPad. While Apple always has acted like the opposite of a PC, the iPad is something of a combination of both.


"If you want to leave the keyboard behind simply detach it." How do I do this? I'd love to work with just the screen and not have to haul around the extra weight.

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    • Some tablets accept SIM cards.
      By: ?
      Some tablets accept SIM cards.
    • A tablet's size makes it more convenient for users.
      By: Rido
      A tablet's size makes it more convenient for users.
    • Tablet applications may include weather information.
      By: Tombaky
      Tablet applications may include weather information.
    • A tablet PC can be used for many purposes, including business and education.
      By: Minerva Studio
      A tablet PC can be used for many purposes, including business and education.
    • Tablet PCs are often used to read e-books and watch downloaded movies.
      By: Ariwasabi
      Tablet PCs are often used to read e-books and watch downloaded movies.
    • Tablet PCs usually do not include the CD or DVD drives found on a laptop or notebook computer.
      Tablet PCs usually do not include the CD or DVD drives found on a laptop or notebook computer.