Tablet computer

A person using the touchscreen on a tablet computer

A tablet computer (sometimes just called a tablet) is a type of computer that can be carried easily. Unlike a laptop it has no physical keyboard or trackpad, though users sometimes add those things. Users control a tablet mostly by using its touchscreen with multi-touch technology similar to a smartphone. The screen can be anywhere from 7 inches (18 cm) (sometimes called a phablet) to 12 inches (30 cm) in size, but most have a screen of about 10 inches (25 cm) diagonal.

Nearly all tablet computers can access the Internet using Wi-Fi, and many can use mobile phone networks like 2G, 3G, and 4G. Like smartphones, many tablets have sensors including a camera and a microphone. Other features of tablets include high definition, anti-glare displays, a Bluetooth radio (to connect to printers and other devices), flash memory, and cloud storage facilities to back up and synchronize data.

Science fiction began putting tablets in their stories after the middle 20th century. Several companies started making real tablets late in the century. The introduction of the Apple iPad in 2010 attracted much attention, and other companies made and sold more.

Advantages and disadvantages

Compared to laptop computers, tablets are lighter, more portable, have longer battery life, generate less heat, and don't need a mouse or keyboard to be connected. Typing is usually done on the touch screen with a "virtual" keyboard which appears on the screen. Most tablets allow the user to get notifications even when the tablet is powered off or on standby.

One disadvantage is that the "virtual" keyboards are sometimes slow and easy to make typos on. Some tasks are easier with the old kind of input devices, so some tablets can connect to physical keyboards and computer mice to allow using them in ways similar to PC. Tablets often have limited data storage compared to a laptop.

Most run a mobile operating system and often do not support as many file formats and different types of software as laptops, but they may work with the same kinds of mobile apps that smartphones use.

Different tablet computers over the years