Tablets serve computer needs for on-the-go users | Families
By Mariah Smith
MSU Computer Applications and Services
Tablet computers burst into the technology market a little less than two years ago with the launch of Apple’s iPad tablet. The iPad tablets account for nearly 80 percent of the tablet market, but other manufacturers, like Amazon, Motorola, Samsung and Toshiba, are introducing their newest version of the tablet just in time for the holiday season.
Tablet computers are larger versions of smart phones and slimmed down versions of home laptops. In addition, tablets can serve as digital cameras. While the tablet cannot be used for telephone calls, it can be used to conduct face-to-face videoconferencing if the tablet has a built-in camera and an appropriate application, such as Skype or Facetime.
Tablet computers offer several advantages. They are lightweight, easy to travel with, can be used for both work and entertainment, and have a larger screen than the smart phone. Disadvantages of tablet computers include cost and work productivity. It is difficult to input large quantities of data on a tablet without purchasing an external Bluetooth keyboard.
When considering the purchase of a tablet, be sure to visit your local electronics store and get a feel for how the various models work. People who are already familiar with the iPod and iTouch will feel at home with the iPad since it uses the same operating system. Most other tablets use the Android 3.1 Honeycomb operating system.
The screen on a tablet is measured diagonally, and most are either 9.7 inches or 10.1 inches. Less expensive models will reduce the screen size to minimize the cost of the tablet. Most are liquid crystal display, or LCD, and are backlit, meaning they can be seen and read even in the dark. The clear images on the tablets make them very popular for reading digital comic books or practicing math skills with the BugMath app.
Most tablets are Wi-Fi enabled, which means that they can connect to any available wireless network. However, if you want your tablet to remain connected to wireless at all times, you will have to purchase an additional monthly plan from your local cell phone carrier.
When deciding how much memory your tablet should have, the more the better. More memory means that you can store more photos, videos and games on the tablet without reducing its overall speed. The difference in a tablet with 32 GB (gigabytes) of memory and a tablet with 64 GB of memory is about $100.
A unique feature of the newer generation of tablets is the inclusion of front- and rear-facing cameras. Front-facing cameras are designed to use when conducting a face-to-face videoconference. Rear-facing cameras operate in much the same way as a camera or video recorder and record objects on the backside of the tablet.
The availability of apps developed for your specific tablet is another factor to consider. Each iPad has access to more than 140,000 applications available at the Apple App Store. The Android Market offers more than 200,000 apps for android tablets. An android tablet is any tablet that is not an iPad or Blackberry device.
With the holiday season approaching, be sure to check online for coupons before purchasing a tablet. As recently as this summer, some stores have offered $100-off coupons for tablets. Expect to see deals on tablets on Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday or Cyber Monday.