Tablets: on the way to replace your laptops and smartphones?

The IT industry is in a constant churn. If we look at the hardware part of it, the distinction is blurring between telecommunications and IT industry. The rapid growth of smartphones has rendered PCs obsolete. Who could have thought that a cell phone could one day replace the good old desktop or the more advanced laptops?

Tablets are also silently unleashing a silent and steady invasion. What exactly are tablets and how do they differ from smartphones and laptops?

A tablet can be defined as a mobile computer (like a laptop) with display, circuitry and battery all housed in a single unit. Unlike laptops, it does not have a separate keypad and mouse but relies on touch screen for its input needs. Thus the screen functions both as a display as well as input unit.

Key Differentiators

They first key differentiator should be the size.  Tablets are bigger than smartphones but smaller than laptops with screen sizes of 7 inches or bigger. The screen sizes are always measured diagonally. They also weigh a lot less than laptops. The big screen size cannot fit in any pocket that differentiates it from a smartphone.

The second is usage. Smartphones have been designed to place and receive calls; tablets are basically mobile computing devices. This differentiation is blurring rapidly.

The other basic differences between laptops and tablets lie in keyboards, mouse, and storage. Laptops have bigger memory storage; tablets rely on flash memory or cloud for storage. Tablets do not have mouse or keyboards, they rely on touch screens.

Tablets also rely on WiFi for internet access. Though they also come with facility for SIM insertion making it possible to place and receive calls and also access internet.

Tablets generally rely on the same operating systems that run smartphones. Android, iOS and Windows are the popular operating systems.

Uses of Tablets

Tablets are generally used as mobile computing devices. The popularity of cloud computing ensures that such devices can work with very little storage space. As with laptops you can use tablets for a host of activities like making presentations, working on numerical data, polishing documents, sharing images and photographs, chatting, or being on social media sites. A very relevant study has found that tablets may account for almost 50% of sales on ecommerce sites. Tablets score over smartphones in this segment as the screen sizes make it easier to identify and select products. Social media interaction is moving online, it is estimated that smartphone users spend the most time on such platforms. Tablets also allow you to do this.

Changing trends:

With the distinction between tablets and smartphones blurring very rapidly, what does the future foretell?

Smartphones achieved a penetration of 5% in about 4-5 years after their debut in 2006. Tablets have achieved this figure in just over two years. Smartphones have already replaced Desktops and Laptops as the preferred means of computing. Can tablets replace smartphones now?  Likewise, tablets are emerging with flexible screens, though screen protectors are still recommended.

The future lies somewhere in between. Apple, Google, Samsung and the venerable Microsoft are looking at a marriage of smartphones and tablets. They are trying to design a computing device with integrated voice capabilities. Put simply, they want to design a product that can work as a cell phone as well as a computer. The future may lie in a wearable computing device. Many patents in this field suggest that developments are happening at a very hectic pace.