Take a tablet

It’s scary, but like a lot of our revolutionary technologies – computer voice recognition, light-based processors, and hands-free communication devices to name just a few – the tablet PC was born in the Star Trek universe.

There aren’t that many tablet PCs out there just yet, but sales are slowly picking up as Microsoft is releasing more tablet software to back their release of Windows Tablet XP and companies and individuals are becoming more aware of their capabilities and appeal.

A tablet PC is kind of like a big PDA, only with a larger screen to write on, and a lot more hardware. The vary in size from about two credit cards – micro tablets – to full 14 inch monitors, and can hold pretty much any kind of hard drive and processor that a laptop can handle.

Factories are already using them to replace clipboards, as workers tick off boxes and fill out e-forms that travel through wireless networks into the company mainframe.

Executives are being given tablets these days to take to meetings, as they can be used to take notes, store presentations, and do just about everything you can do with a laptop or desktop these days.

The consumer market has been a little slower to emerge, but individuals with vision are using tablets to take notes and write down ideas, as well as to download and read tablet-friendly versions of daily newspapers, magazines, books and other media. You can also watch television shows and movies, play games, and do almost anything else you could on a laptop or a PDA. You can lay them flat and write on them like a pad of paper, or stand them up using a built-in base and use them like a notebook.

The hard drive, processors, and Internet connection devices are built-in, and some models come with some kind of keyboard as well. Your tablet can also dock with your desktop or laptop to keep your information in one place and backed up.

Microsoft CEO Bill Gates is a big fan of the tablet concept, and recently announced that Office 11 for the XP operating system will be launched with a compatible version for tablet PCs.

As a result of this support from a leading software manufacturer, and the fact that a lot of businesses and consumers are looking seriously at tablets these days, most companies in the PC game are putting some kind of tablet on the market – despite the fact that only about 675,000 tablets will be sold this year, which is about five per cent of the current laptop market. With tablets only in their second real year of sales, they are ahead of expectations, but still well behind the rest of the PC market.

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