iPad (Wikimedia Commons)

Tablet computers, sometimes simply referred to as tablets,  are mobile computers, operated by touching the screen rather than using a keyboard and a mouse. They often use an onscreen virtual keyboard and sometimes a stylus pen. Tablets can be often connected to a physical keyboard via a wireless link or a USB port.There are a few variations: convertible computers have a keyboard which can be rotated out of sight, allowing them to be operated via the touch screen, while hybrid computers have a detachable screen.

Although there were earlier examples of tablet computers, they didn’t really enter the mainstream market until Apple released the iPad in 2010. The iPad used the same operating system (iOS) and touch screen technology as the company’s iPhone and iPod Touch products, but had a significantly larger screen. This was followed by a raft of products from other manufactures, notably Samsung, Asus and HTC. Most of these tablets use the Google Android operating system, but Microsoft has recently announced a tablet which uses the Windows Phone OS.

Tablets normally have a 7 inch or 10 inch screen. They generally weigh 1 – 2 pounds and have battery lives ranging from 3 – 10 hours. Typical applications include web browsing, social media, messaging, GPS, still and video photography, e-book reading, movie and music playback and downloadable Apps.

For further information see the Wikipedia article on Tablet Computers.

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