With the huge success of iPads and keenly priced Android slates, tablets are fast taking over from laptops as the go-to gadgets for working on the go and for entertainment too.
Tablets combine touchscreen technology with expansive, pin-sharp displays for enjoying video. They also feature dual cameras for video calling and taking snaps and offer an intuitive web browsing experience. Grab a tablet and you'll also get oodles of great apps to choose from too.
Why choose a tablet?
Here we’ll talk you through all the key features of tablets to help you decide if they're right for your needs.
Enjoy media & the web on the go
Tablets feature colourful screens that come in between six-inches and around 10-inches, making them fantastic for enjoying movies and videos while you're on the move. By way of comparison, the largest smartphone screens come in at a shade over five inches.
They’re also great for reading newspapers and magazines, with special tablet editions of some of the UK’s biggest titles available to download and enjoy. And, of, course the larger screen of a tablet makes for a far more pleasurable mobile internet experience than you get on a relatively cramped smartphone screen.
The touchscreen technology that tablets employ makes them terrifically intuitive and enjoyable to use. Older users in particular report that they find internet tablets much simpler to get to grips with than laptops or home computers.
Select tablets also double as mobile phones and allow you to make and take calls. Why buy a laptop and a phone when you can get the functionality of both with a tablet?
Most tablets work brilliantly as e-readers, thanks to large, high resolution screens that render text beautifully, thus making for an exceptionally pleasurable reading experience. They’re also terrific for reading comics. To turn pages, you simply flick the screen.
Create and deliver stunning presentations
Most tablets come with powerful presentation apps pre-installed. These allow you to create animations, images and graphs to add a real sheen of professionalism to your presentations. If you're in business, you'll tablets are invaluable business tools.
Some tablets feature back and front mounted cameras, so that you can make and take video calls and actually see who you’re speaking to. This makes them fantastic for video conferencing with co-workers and clients, once again enhancing their appeal to business users.
Choose an iPad and you’ll be able to choose from hundreds of thousands of applications, or apps, from the Apple App Store. These take in everything from practical business tools to excellent games and distractions.
Other tablets, such as those that run on Google’s Android operating system, also offer a massive array of apps, which you can grab from the Android Market software store.
By downloading apps, you can effectively add new functions to your tablet every day. And the best thing is that many of the titles will be completely free to download.
Regular system updates
Google and Apple regularly push out new versions of their operating systems, bringing new functions to Android tablets and iPads respectively. These are often so extensive that it genuinely feels like getting a brand new tablet each time. Updates also fix any problems that may have been discovered with your tablet since it came to market.
You already know how to use a tablet
If you already own a modern smartphone or have just used one, you’ll already be familiar with how to operate a tablet, which employ the same touchscreen based interfaces, only bigger. That means you’ll be able to start getting the most out of your tablet with little learning curve.
Disadvantages of tablets
For some people, a major drawback with tablets is that they do not have a physical keyboard and instead require owners to use a virtual touchcreen keyboard, which can seem a bit fiddly. This is especially the case when working on documents or writing lengthy emails.
However, to address this problem tablet makers and third-party manufacturers have brought a range of physical keyboard add-ons to market. Simply attach the keyboard or sync via Bluetooth and you’re good to go. The auto text detection and correction software is also ever improving to make typing much easier on tablets.
Who makes tablets?
Perhaps the most widely known tablet maker is Apple, thanks largely to the phenomenal success of its range of iPads. However, it’s far from the only high-profile tech firm operating in the tablet space. Far from it, in fact.
Other tablet makers include Samsung and HTC, whose tablets run Google’s Android operating system, as well as long-established PC makers Dell, Hewlett Packard and Toshiba. BlackBerry has added business oriented options to the tablet market, while Nokia has brought its expertise to tablets with a series of devices running its proprietary MeeGo operating system.
Which tablets are the best?
Naming the best tablet is almost impossible, principally because this is largely a matter of opinion. However, the huge sales registered by the Apple iPads and Samsung’s range of Galaxy tablets suggest that consumers rate these particular tablets as among the best around.
Will tablets replace laptops?
Right now, it’s probably too early to tell whether tablets will replace laptops and netbooks, but the fact that tablets do not feature a physical keyboard for when you need to work with text suggests that they will instead carve out a niche of their own.
As tablets become more and more affordable and mass market, it’s easy to see consumers’ making room for them among their range of mobile web enabled devices somewhere between a smartphone and their laptop.
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