What is a tablet PC?

A tablet PC is a multi-functional portable device of compact dimensions equipped with a touchscreen as its primary input device.

What size is a tablet PC?

Most of the tablet PC makers have adopted a standard size of 12” widescreen with a resolution of around 1280x800 pixels. The 12” form factor is optimal for higher powered devices due to the power, size and eight considerations required to ensure portability. For consumer products such as the popular Apple iPad and Android devices the general size is between 10” and 7”. The first generation Apple iPad is equipped with a 10” touchscreen.

What operating systems are available?

At the time of writing there are four major operating systems to be found in the tablet market:

  • Microsoft Windows: Windows 7 introduced a great leap forward in touch screen input support to the Windows operating system family.  Tablets running Windows get added functionality over a desktop machine including the ability to use the touchscreen for mouse input, hand writing recognition and gesture support. There is a touch experience pack available for Windows and an Education pack which further improve Windows 7’s functionality on a tablet device. Most Windows 7 tablets are expensive and are primarily found at use in business, education and the public sector.
  • Linux: The open source operating system called Linux has proved popular on many tablet devices. A number of Linux based OS projects are dedicated to tablet computers. Since these are all open source operating systems they are available free of charge and will work on a wide variety of different tablet computers.
  • Google Android: One of the most popular of the tablet operating systems is Google’s Android OS. The operating system has been targeted by manufacturers from all over the world for tablet PCs thanks to its success on mobile phones from manufacturers such as HTC, Samsung and LG. It offers excellent customisability, low resources and thousands of applications available to download through in-built application stores.
  • Apple iOS: Following on from Apple’s success with the iPod, iPhone and other iOS equipped devices Apple introduced the iPad in 2010 and instantly it re-energized the tablet PC market. The device is very similar to the Apple iPhone but much larger, it is able to access the internet, view photos, videos, play a huge variety of games, basic word processing and wireless printing. Apple has also released the popular iBooks app allowing user to purchase books, newspapers and magazines on the device. The iOS is currently the most popular tablet operating system and one of the most polished, there is however a limited choice of hardware to make use of this as you are limited to the Apple iPad devices.
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