Pin Me

What is a Tablet PC?

written by: •edited by: J. F. Amprimoz•updated: 9/3/2009

How do they work? What kinds of uses do they have? Are they more than just a notebook with a touchscreen?

  • slide 1 of 1

    What is a Tablet PC?

    Have you ever heard seen an advertisement or heard someone talk about a Tablet PC, and you didn't known what they were?

    A Tablet PC is a mobile computer, much like a laptop or notebook. This simply means it is designed to be mobile and not sit on or under a desk like a regular desktop PC. The main aspect of any mobile PC is that it is self contained, meaning that it can work independently of any peripherals or other devices, with the main limitation being battery power.

    What sets Tablet PC’s apart from standard notebook computers is that they have a touchscreen, meaning you can interact with the PC by touching the screen. This is usually done with what’s called a stylus, which is simply a plastic pen-like device that you use to touch items on screen. A stylus tends to be more precise that using your finger, plus they don’t leave smudges.

    The more common types of Tablet PC are the convertible notebooks. In these, the monitor will swivel around and sit over the keyboard, but with the screen facing outward instead of in. This lets you carry the computer around and interact with it using only the screen. Another kind you may see are slate type devices that resemble nothing more than a big screen. These are often used by artists or for specialized tasks that don’t require a keyboard. There were also some hybrid models, but they are no longer being made.

    You’re probably wondering how you would enter information on a Tablet PC without the keyboard readily available, and the answer is simply handwriting recognition. These computers are equipped with software that will recognize writing, so that you could take notes on them without having to type anything. This could be quite useful in a classroom where you don’t want the banging sound of a keyboard distracting your classmates.

    So why would you want a Tablet PC? A good example would be for use in a warehouse or some environment where you need to check inventory. Rather than carrying around a wad of papers, you could use the PC to keep up with inventory and manage everything on screen. I’ve seen them used in office environments where a supervisor of some kind carries the PC around to constantly check on updates via a wireless network. Most of the time that a Tablet PC is being used, it is with some software made specifically for Tablet machines, and these programs tend to have larger buttons and fonts.

    For example, In the city government where I work, we have Panasonic Toughbook computers installed in all the police cars. These computers are all loaded with a program that interacts directly with police dispatch to show the officers all active calls, who is responding, and more. The Toughbooks have touchscreens on them and the software used by the officers has big buttons so they can navigate the program simply by touching the screen.

    Tablet PC’s are obviously not for everyone, but they offer a variety of practical uses for people who need a computer in places that a regular computer might get in the way. While the idea of not having a keyboard may seem odd, you might be surprised how often you use your computer without actually typing anything.