What Is a Tablet Computer?


Tablets currently make up only a small percentage of the tech market, but sales are increasing at a rate of 42 million units a year. 

So, if you’re shopping for new tech, it’s worth asking yourself, ‘What is a tablet, and what can it do for me?’

Will a tablet meet your computing needs, and how does it compare to a laptop in terms of performance? You need clarity before you spend your hard-earned cash on a gadget that doesn’t work for you.

Check out this tablet computer guide for all the answers you want.  

What Is a Tablet Computer?

Tablets are portable, handheld computers that fall somewhere between a laptop and a phone. They have more features than a phone, but fewer than a laptop.

Major players in the tablet manufacturing industry include the Apple iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, and Lenovo Tab. Each offers several key features that help it stand out from the rest, but they all operate along the same lines.

Tablets share some similarities with most electronic devices like smartphones and computers. They have storage for files and software, a built-in camera, a rechargeable battery, and a screen. 

The built-in tablet mobile operating system works with settings designed for big-screen mobile usage, like windows and menus. 

A major difference between tablets and PCs is their touch screen. You can perform all the functions you need by touching the screen with your fingers or using a stylus.

In this way, you can play games, send and receive emails, and scroll through documents. There’s an on-screen keyboard for typing.

Tablets don’t have USB ports like laptops do, but you can connect keyboards and a mouse wirelessly if you want to.   

You recharge your tablet with a cable like a cell phone charger. Some models have a removable battery that you can replace when it wears out, but this feature is rare nowadays.

What Is a Tablet Good For? 

Tablets work equally well for entertainment and small business applications. If you’re shopping on a budget and need a portable device, they’re a good alternative to a laptop. 

They connect to the internet via cellar network or Wi-Fi and you can stream videos, download apps, and make phone calls with a sim-card-enabled tablet. 

You can broadcast videos and stream to your TV using a laptop, and most mobile apps work on tablets, too. Bluetooth capabilities allow you to connect speakers for watching movies or listening to your favorite tunes.  

Drawbacks of a Tablet vs a Laptop

With no extra ports, Ethernet ports, or other common laptop components, some people find tablets limiting in their capabilities. You can’t connect them to flash drives, external hard drives, or peripheral devices like wired printers. 

The small screen isn’t ideal for writing long documents, especially when half of it’s taken up by the keyboard.

Some tablets are only capable of connecting to the internet via Wi-Fi, which can hamper their usefulness if you use your cellphone for internet connectivity.  

You can still compose emails, watch downloaded content, and play games when your tablet isn’t connected to the internet. You can only send the email once you go online, though. 

One of the best tablet computer tips is to buy hardware that enables you to connect any tablet to your cell phone.

Performance Considerations

Due to their ultrathin structure, tablets don’t have internal fans like laptops do. Thus, they rely on lower-performing processors that use less battery power and generate less heat.

In this respect, tablets can’t offer all the functionality that tablets do. 

Originally, tablets operated exclusively on cellphone operating systems, but you can use the Windows OS on most tablets nowadays. 

When it comes to portability, tablets outshine laptops by far, but they’re limited when it comes to screen resolution. Touchpad operation doesn’t work as well with high-res screens, so you’ll have to put up with a standard display when using a tablet.

Despite its small size, a tablet offers a much better battery life than a laptop. Few people ever use a tablet when it’s plugged into a power source. 

This advantage comes from the compact operating system that allows a laptop battery to take up almost half the device’s interior space.

If you’re looking for a device that offers excellent portability, a long battery life, and basic performance, a tablet is a great pick for you. However, if you need business capabilities, a better quality screen, and ample storage, you’ll need a laptop. 

Due to tablet limitations, some manufacturers now make hybrid laptops that feature capabilities common to both types of tech. These laptops have detachable, or fold-back keyboards, ports like a laptop, and touchscreens. 

Tablet PC Types

In the strictest sense, all tablets are thin and flat, with no keyboard. Nowadays, hybrid laptops, also known as 2-in-1s, expand on that definition without trespassing entirely into the realm of laptops.

Hybrid laptops with a detachable keyboard go by the name, 2-in-1 detachable. You can remove the screen portion of these hybrids and use them as a tablet.

Another type of hybrid, the 2-in-1 attached, has a keyboard that flips or folds out of the way, so you can use the screen as a tablet. These are often lighter and smaller than the 2-in-1 detachable variety. 

These convertible laptops may feature a PC or a mobile phone operating system. 

The latest innovation is a laptop-tablet crossover that folds in half for portability while providing big-screen convenience when you unfold it. 

Embracing Modern Technology

Now that you know the answer to the question ‘what is a tablet?’, you can use this article as a tablet computer buying guide to find the best model for you.

As technology advances, the line between tablets and laptops continues to blur. So, it’s easier to find something that suits both your portability and performance needs with a little research. 

Would you rather continue your tech search to find the perfect fit for you? Browse our blog for more technology-related answers.