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What's the Benefit of a Tablet PC?

written by: M.S. Smith•edited by: Bill Fulks•updated: 1/26/2011

Tablet computers are all the rage right now. But why? What do they offer that a normal computer can't? This article takes a look at the benefits of tablet PCs against more traditional computers.

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    The Slow Revolution

    Tablets have been revolutionizing the PC industry for a few years now. Yes, that was sarcasm - tablets have certainly had an impact, but their revolution hasn't been as swift as some guessed. Indeed, we're just now seeing the first tablets from companies like Motorola and Blackberry.

    Still, the benefit of a tablet PC is real. Compared to normal computers they have a number of advantages. Let's look at five benefits that might sway you towards the purchase of a tablet computer.

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    1. Portability

    Benefit of a Tablet Portability isn't a black-and-white concept. There are many different types of computers in many different sizes because different people have different needs.

    Up until now, the smallest computers were netbooks. Although they often have 10.1" displays, these inexpensive portable PCs still typically weigh over three pounds and are often an inch thick. That's still too heavy to be convenient for some purposes; reading an eBook is one example.

    Tablets are usually half an inch thick or slimmer and often weigh less than two pounds. These characteristics make them light enough to hold comfortable and small enough to slip into even a dainty purse. For some, this added portability is a big deal.

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    2. The Touchscreen

    Tablet PCs are not loved simply because they're smaller and thinner than a normal laptop. They're also well received because they come with touchscreens that provide a smoother, more direct means of interface than a keyboard and trackpad.

    This is a benefit of a tablet PC that almost everyone can enjoy. The touchscreen makes some games more engaging, media easier to browse, and eBook pages easier to flip. There are even some business applications, such as inventory management in large spaces, that can benefit from touchscreen technology.

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    3. Simplicity

    The capability of PC hardware accelerates at a breakneck speed. The introduction of each new processor makes it more apparent that there is a large gap between the needs of different groups of users. While some need the power of the latest Sandy Bridge processor from Intel, others just want to browse the web, read a few emails, and watch some funny videos on Youtube.

    Most tablets don't run Windows, and instead rely on less capable operating systems such as iOS and Android. Although lacking many features compared to Windows 7, these mobile operating systems are quick and simple. For users who have basic needs, they're often times easier to understand and navigate.

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    4. 3G/4G Connectivity

    Benefit of a Tablet PC While tablets are generally less well equipped than laptops by a large margin, tablets do have an edge when it comes to 3G/4G connectivity. It's unusual to encounter a laptop that has support for cellular wireless Internet straight from the factory, and while adding this via USB adapter or hardware upgrade is possible, it's an extra step (and cost) some won't want to deal with.

    Tablets, by contrast, offer a much smoother experience. You can even buy the cellular service when you pick up the tablet - the iPad, for example, has access to an AT&T plan without a long-term contract.

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    5. App Stores

    Computer software has traditionally been a bit of a free-for-all, with no central body responsible for listing or approving the programs available. While this makes it easy for anyone to sell anything they'd like, it isn't ideal for users who are less technically inclined.

    The app store model popularized on the iPhone and now common on all smartphones is also being used by tablets, and this is a major benefit of tablet PCs. App stores make it much easier to find useful software and download it without worrying about the legitimacy of the program's source.

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    Conclusion

    As you can see, there are strong arguments in favor of tablets. There are also some strong arguments against tablets, of course, and those should be considered as well. I don't think that tablets are ever going to replace notebook computers entirely, but I do think they have their purpose, and that the five points above demonstrate why tablets will find a place in the home of many consumers.

    Image Credits: Apple, Inc and Phandroid