Tablet PC Information for Beginners

by Andrew Mikael

Tablet PCs differ from standard laptop and desktop systems in that they primarily use a touchscreen interface and are often smaller and more portable than other computer systems. Their unique interface can make some applications easier to use, but their hardware restrictions can also slow down common tasks such as typing and gaming. Like other computers, tablets come in a varity of models and run on a variety of different operating system platforms.

Hardware

Unlike the folding design of laptops, tablet computers usually have only a single surface that functions as both the screen and primary input device. Older tablets usually featured a resistive touch screen that required a stylus to operate correctly, but newer models often use capacitive touch screens that may include multi-touch support. Most tablet PCs include standard connection ports for using headphones, USB drives and other computer accessories, though available connectivity varies by model. Most tablets include Wi-Fi connectivity, and many can also access the Internet over-the-air using a service provider subscription. Combination devices such as the HP Pavilion tx2000, Asus Eee Pad Transformer and the Lenovo IdeaPad U1 Hybrid have both laptop and tablet features and utilize either a detachable tablet touchscreen or a rotatable screen for hybrid use.

Operating Systems

Several different operating systems commonly run on tablet PCs, with the pre-installed OS dependent on the tablet's manufacturer and model. Windows operating systems starting with Windows XP Tablet Edition support touch interfacing, with both Windows Vista and Windows 7 including native tablet support. Apple's popular iPad tablet device runs the proprietary iOS operating system that also powers Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch devices. Several manufacturers produce Android tablets that run the same OS as the Droid and Google Nexus smartphones. These include devices such as the Motorola Xoom and Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Tablet Benefits

A tablet's touch interface makes some common tasks more intuitive, and the devices provide easy Web browsing and gesture-based navigation. The unique input also gives users access to games and artistic applications that may prove difficult to control using a traditional mouse and keyboard. The lack of moving parts and compact design of tablet PCs also makes them good traveling companions, as they remain easy to use without a table or flat surface.

Restrictions

The lack of a physical keyboard can make word processing and other typing-intensive applications more difficult on tablet PCs, with most devices needing to rely on a virtual keyboard displayed onscreen. External keyboards and accessories can mitigate this problem, but take away from a tablet's inherent portability. Their compact frame also means that tablets often lack the computing power of their laptop and desktop counterparts, and resource-intensive games and other applications may not run properly on tablet devices.

About the Author

Andrew Mikael began writing in 2010. His articles appear on various websites, where he specializes in media and related technology. Mikael has a Bachelor of Arts in film from Montana State University.

Photo Credits

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