The Tablet PC
Finally, we come to the odd duck of the portable PC family, the tablet. To be honest, there are few Windows-compatible tablets available today, so if you’re wedded to the Microsoft world, this probably isn’t an option for you. (This may change with the release of Windows 8, which appears to be designed with tablets and touchscreens in mind.) Still, if you’re willing to branch out beyond Windows into Apple’s iOS or the Android operating system, you may find a device that meets your needs.
A tablet PC is like a notebook without the keyboard. That is, you have a single, nonhinged unit with a display in the 7” to 10” range. The display is a touchscreen, which is how you operate the thing, by tapping and swiping your fingers across the screen.
Tablets are primarily for media consumption, not for document creation. That means they’re fine for reading books, watching movies, listening to music, and even browsing Facebook and sending the occasional email. They’re not so good at writing long letters or reports, or working on spreadsheets. That’s just the nature of the beast.
No question about it, the most popular tablet today is the Apple iPad; no other model comes close in terms of number of users. The iPad, however, runs its own proprietary operating system, and is thus incompatible with the hundreds of millions of Windows-based computers currently in use. That may not be important if all you do with your tablet is browse the web and consume media, but if you want to do more serious work – or read or work on documents created on a Windows computer – then you may want to wait until those rumored Windows 8 tablets hit the street later this year.
Figure 5 Apple’s iPad tablet PC.