Apple's iPad is arguably the most famous tablet computer on the market today. AP Photo/Paul Sakuma When Steve Jobs ended years of speculation in 2010 by announcing the iPad tablet device, he helped launch a new era in computer hardware. Though tablet PCs have been around for years, the iPad was the first device to use the form factor successfully in the consumer market. And Apple's success benefitted other companies as well as tech enthusiasts looked for alternatives to Apple's approach. So what exactly is a tablet? At its most basic level, a tablet PC is a mobile computing device that's larger than a smartphone or personal digital assistant. There's not a strict cutoff size for tablet devices -- the iPad line sports a screen size of just under 10 inches but other tablets can be larger or smaller. In general, if the computing device uses an on-screen interface and doesn't include a phone, it's a tablet. To confuse matters, some manufacturers produce hybrid devices that are part … [Read more...] about How Tablets Work
The Nook Tablet offers a host of multimedia and computing features. Oh, and you can read on it, too. Courtesy Barnes & Noble Remember when deciding to pick up a book only required one decision: Which book to get? In the age of smartphones, tablets, computers and e-readers, it's not so much what you're reading but how you're reading it. And you can almost guarantee that if a huge corporation wants to sell you a book, it also wants to shove the device that allows you to digitally read it in your hands. The first e-reader was launched in 2006 by Sony Corp. It was the launch of the Amazon Kindle in 2007, however, that made having a digital e-book reader a foregone conclusion to 21st-century living. Suddenly, anybody in the business of selling books needed a device to keep customers browsing their digital shelves. In November 2009, Barnes & Noble Inc. launched the Nook, a standard E ink display that operated on an Android system and allowed direct download and even sharing of … [Read more...] about How the Nook Tablet Works
Khronos projector © 2010 HowStuffWorks.com Computers have been around for more than half a century, and yet the way most people interact with them hasn't changed much. The keyboards we use evolved from typewriters, a technology that dates back almost 150 years. Douglas Carl Engelbert demonstrated a device that we'd later call a computer mouse back in 1968 [source: MIT]. Even the graphical user interface (GUI) has been around for a while -- the first one to gain popularity in the consumer market was on the Macintosh in 1984 [source: Utah State University]. Considering the fact that computers are far more powerful today than they were 50 years ago, it's surprising that our basic interfaces haven't changed much. Today, we're starting to see more dramatic departures from the keyboard-and-mouse interface configuration. Touchscreen devices like smartphones and tablet computers have introduced this technology -- which has been around for more than a decade -- to a wider audience. … [Read more...] about How will humans interface with computers in the future?
Start the Countdown A young boy tries out kids' games on Apple iPads at the 2011 Leipzig Book Fair in Leipzig, Germany. Marco Prosch/Getty Images Touchscreen technology is like catnip to the tactile child. All those cool games and bright colors, sliding around and reacting to the touch of a finger -- a kid can't resist it, and many parents can't resist handing their tablet computer over in exchange for a little peace and quiet. The problem here is that these devices are expensive, and kids can be careless. Most kids' toys are built to withstand being dropped on the floor or stepped on -- not like the iPad and other grown-up tablet computers. So, what if you want your child to benefit from some of the educational apps offered on tablet computers, but you don't want him to break your most expensive gadget? You're in luck. Several companies have come out with tablet computers built especially for kids. The products serve an age range from toddler to tween, and they all have … [Read more...] about 5 Great Tablet Computers for Kids
Start the Countdown Tablets are great educational tools for kids -- and they're becoming increasingly popular with the younger set. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images If your wee ones haven't put their hands on your iPad already, they may be begging for one soon. Tablets -- bigger than smart phones, smaller than laptops -- are an excellent learning tool for inquisitive young minds. Apps are available offering everything from e-books to math games, to subject-specific programs about animals or mythological creatures, and creative tools from finger-painting to photo retouching. Plus, videos, movies and music can help entertain youngsters, whether you're taking a long road trip or just running errands around town. There's no escaping the fact that tablet usage is spreading like wildfire among the younger set. According to a study from Nielsen, about 70 percent of children in households with tablet computers use them. About 77 percent use tablets to play games, while 57 percent … [Read more...] about 5 Great Learning Tablets for Kids