As technology advances, new devices are being booted from the market within years. Considering laptops replaced desktops, could tablets replace laptops? As society becomes more techno-savvy and "on the go", will laptops become the new desktop? The possibilities are already coming to life through the efficiency of tablets.
The dramatic uptake on tablets, for both consumer and business use, is a clear indicator that, while the PC isn't dead, its days are numbered. Evidently there's pent-up demand for a device that is grab-and-go portable and that can be used just about anywhere, conveniently. And that need dovetails nicely with the proliferation of location-based app services.
With the introduction of the first modern tablet - an iPad from Apple, the tablet PCs market in the U.S. begun to surface and gain ground. It created competition among the major desktop and laptop PC manufacturers who set out to obtain advantage of early movers in the U.S. market. Initially, Apple with its iOS dominated the U.S. tablet PCs market; however, Android based tablet PCs are expected to take over Apple's share in the coming years.
At a splashy June launch event that took cues from Apple's playbook, Microsoft wowed the tech-savvy audience, including me, with its introduction of Surface for Windows RT and Surface for Windows 8 Pro tablets. (For brevity, I'll refer to them hereafter as Surface RT and Surface Pro.) The folks in Redmond have spared no detail in reconsidering what a tablet can, and should, be. What caught our collective attention was Microsoft's end-to-end vision, as seen in its design choices. This wasn't just another humdrum tablet that Microsoft happened to introduce; Surface feels stylish, fresh, and exciting.
Microsoft covers all the bases, but with an extremely varied set of solutions. Apple covers smart phones and tablets with one operating system. Android covers smart phones, tablets, and just about any other embedded device you can think of, from robots to coffee makers. Arm is the dominant processor architecture used with tablets, but Android runs on all major processor architectures including MIPS, Power, and x86. If the target can run Linux, which Android is based on, then it's a candidate for Android.
The world has seen aggressive competition among tablet PC manufacturers after the launch of iPad from Apple. Within five months of the release of iPad, Samsung launched its Samsung Galaxy Tab to compete with Apple. Since then, the tablet PC manufacturing industry has seen the emergence of numerous players. Most tablet manufacturers such as Asus, HP, and Lenovo among others released their models of tablet PCs in quick successions, but none of them could surpass Apple's share.
Apple is struggling to uphold their title for best selling products. Apple went as far as suing Samsung for using the same 'pinch to zoom' feature, also for using rounded edges. Even though Apply won a settlement over bogus accusations of copyright infringement, Samsung still had the guts to introduce their Galaxy Tab. This featured tablet boosted Samsung's ratings.
We found the device pleasing to use, but before long we realized that Android 2.2 on slates has plenty of room for improvement. The more we used the Galaxy Tab, the more we could tell that the version of Android it uses is a phone operating system that has been installed on a larger-screen device. For example, the Web browser delivers a site's mobile version, and not the full version as on the iPad. We hope that things will improve -- and that developers will get on the ball -- with the long-promised, tablet-optimized version of Android.
Android has come a long way from 2.2. With all their updated versions, Android has evolved Froyo 2.2 to 4.2 Jelly Bean. The next version to look forward to will be named Key Lime Pie which will bring android up to version 5.0. Tablets do offer a 'mobile' version of specific websites, however one will always have the option to return to the normal desktop version of the selected web site.
One reason is that tablets don't perform all PC functions well. Anyone who uses a notebook PC several hours a day to read email, surf the Web, edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations, and work with enterprise apps -- and that describes a lot of people -- makes heavy use of a keyboard. Most tablets provide virtual keyboards, which are only barely adequate for long-duration touch-typing. Tablets were not designed for typing. I contend that until tablets offer lightweight and compact add-on keyboards, business tablet users will for the most part need notebook or desktop PCs too.
Tablets typically have three buttons, including power and two volume controls. There may be holes for microphones and speakers, as well as a tiny lens for a camera. You'll find at least one connector on the edge, usually USB. It may be disguised as a special connector for "advantages" that may be real or imagined.
Most tablets have internal batteries. Charging is typically via USB. Higher power delivery via USB is now possible (see "New USB Spec Improves Charging In Portable Devices" at electronicdesign.com). The new standard can deliver up to 100 W compared to the 2.5 W that USB could originally provide. This means faster charging time for tablets and other mobile devices such as smart phones.
Today's tablet is exactly what the name implies: a thin slab, dominated by its screen. These slender systems generally max out at 1.5 pounds, and few of them take up more space in your bag than an old-fashioned composition book would. The software for tablets has changed, as well. Instead of struggling to run a full-fledged version of Windows, which requires a significant amount of processing power and isn't optimized for use with a touchscreen, most new tablet models released nowadays run a relatively lightweight, touchscreen-focused mobile operating system such as Apple iOS or Google Android.