The tablet PC has been thrust into the limelight again with the introduction of Apple’s iPad, but the idea of tablet computing is far from a new one. Although the idea of tablet computing has been in existence since the creation of the computer, Microsoft popularized the tablet PC in 2001 with the announcement of Windows XP Tablet PC Edition. Since that time, companies like HP, Apple, Panasonic, and Acer have all jumped on the tablet PC bandwagon, and for good reason: tablet PCs offer several important advantages over traditional laptops.
The most obvious advantage of the tablet PC is its ability to record the handwriting of an individual. This versatility makes it easy to take notes on the fly or sketch a graph or mathematical equation, for example. The tablet PC is not limited by a set number of characters: the only limitation to symbols that can be recorded is the user’s knowledge of symbols. This makes the tablet PC a useful tool for anyone more used to a traditional handwriting-oriented setting.
Since many tablet PCs use the screen as an input mechanism rather than a keyboard or mouse, tablet PCs do not require alterations like different keyboards based on geographic location. For example, a traditional laptop must be manufactured with different keyboard layouts or symbols based on the language of the user. That is, an English user may use a different keyboard than a Russian user. Tablet PCs do not run into this manufacturing issue, as the screen is responsive to any type of input the user chooses.
Another advantage of the tablet PC lies in the versatility of the tablet design itself. A tablet PC is very conducive to being handled like a notebook or clipboard, a useful feature for professionals like doctors in an examination room or engineers in the field. The device can be handled safely and easily with only one hand, leaving the other hand free to do as the user pleases. Tablet PCs are also smaller and lighter on average than traditional laptops, meaning greater portability for users. Tablet PCs are almost ideal for persons who consider portability a major issue: they can be used easily while standing, sitting, walking, or in a variety of other positions.
Tablet PCs provide important advantages not available to the traditional laptop user. Their versatility and portability makes tablet PCs a useful tool for professionals and students alike, and the tablet PC is certainly an interesting technology that will become more and more practical over time. As prices become more competitive and designs more durable, the tablet PC may soon be able to replace the traditional laptop as the preferred portable computing device of the 21st century.