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Tablet PCs buying guide

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Tablet PCs Guide - An Introduction

A tablet PC is basically a tablet pc laptop computer that uses a stylus and/or a touchscreen instead of a keyboard. The format creates a more mobile computer, because tablet PCs can be used in situations where notebook PCs are impractical, unwieldy, or do not provide the necessary functions. Tablet PCs are fully functioning laptops.

The tablet PC term was coined in 2001 by Microsoft. As defined by the company, a tablet PC is a pen-enabled computer that runs on the Windows XP Tablet PC operating system. By their definition, similar devices that used a different operating system or did not follow the hardware specifications from Microsoft were called tablet computers. Today, however, the tablet PC terms applies to any computer with this format.

Depending on your needs, there are advantages and disadvantages regarding tablet PCs. Advantages include the ability to use them where a keyboard is not practical, such as standing or lying down. They are lightweight, and their low power consumption gives them a long battery life. The tablet PC screen screen makes navigation easy, and they do not require special keyboards to use with different languages. Disadvantages are that they are more expensive than a comparable non-tablet laptop. Handwriting is typically slower than typing, which results in a slower input. They are more prone to damage because the screens are also used as the input device, and they generally have slower processors than comparably priced laptops.

If a tablet PC is the right choice for you, Price Inspector will help you find the best type and brand for your needs. Our buying guide will give you the tips to choose the right model, and then we’ll bring you the cheapest price possible. We compare the UK shops to make sure you always get the best deals.

Types of Tablet PCs

There are several different styles of tablet PCs, and it’s important to know the differences so you can choose the best for you.

  • Booklets: These are two-screen tablets that open like a book. They usually have multi-touch screen and pen recognition capabilities. They can be used for Internet access, project planning, watching videos and live TV, listening to music, reading e-books, and organizing your schedule.
  • A slate tablet PC resembles a writing slate. They are tablet PCs that do not have a dedicated keyboard. They rely on handwriting recognition, or you can use an external keyboard. These are usually attached with a USB or wireless connection. They are small, between 14 and 36 cm, use LCD screens, and are popular in markets like education, health care, and fieldwork. Because they are often used in rugged conditions, they may include protection against heat, humidity, vibrating motion, or dropping.
  • Convertibles: These have a base and an attached keyboard, closely resembling traditional laptops. The base typically rotates on a hinge, allowing the screen to rotate to fold down on the keyboard and create a flat surface for writing. Although this is a common design, the hinge function can create a weak area prone to damage. Some manufacturers create a more durable hinge or a sliding design to eliminate this common problem. Because they still offer the keyboard functionality, convertibles are the most popular type of tablet PC.
  • Hybrids combine the features of slate and convertible tablet PCs. Like a convertible, they have a keyboard and the screen can rotate to rest flat on the keyboard. However, this keyboard is detachable, allowing the PC to be used like a slate model.

Popular Brands

Some of the popular brands of tablet PCs include:

  • The Archos 9 tablet PC lets you all the common software you need with Windows 7, including Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and Skype. The built-in Internet connectivity makes it easy to surf the Web or read your emails, and the integrated Web cam allows you to video conference with your friends or office. This small computer is only 1.7 cm thick and weighs only 800 grams, but you can still play all your multimedia, including HD videos.
  • The Asus Eee convertible tablet PC uses a 1.33 GHz Intel processor and offers up to 2 GB of memory. The 8.9 screen offers a multi-touch option, allowing you to input data with your fingertip or stylus.
  • The Fujitsu LifeBook is made by Fujitsu Siemens, who has been designing pen-based computers for 20 years. The LifeBook includes a robust hinge, and the 13.3-inch screen is easy to navigate. You can use either a style or your fingertip to use the applications, including watching and creating DVD movies and sketching designs. You can collaborate easily using the built-in microphone and Web cam. An older but still popular model from Fujitsu is the Stylistic tablet PC.
  • Hewlett-Packards tablet PC uses Windows 7 Home Premium edition and a 1.30 GHz Intel processor. It provides 3GB of memory, a 12.1-inch diagonal LED wide screen, and an integrated touch-screen. The PC includes a built-in Bluetooth connection, fingerprint reader, HDMI port, and 6-cell battery.
  • A popular Lenovo tablet PC is the S10-3t, which features a 1.66 GHz Intel Atom processor, 1 GB memory, and 250 GB hard drive. The 10.1 inch LED screen uses Intel GMA Graphics, and the tablet PC comes with Windows 7 Starter edition.
  • The Panasonic Toughbook includes a 2D bar code reader and an integrated RFID reader. This PC is rugged and durable, but lightweight and portable. It’s ideal for health care situations because it uses a fully sealed, fanless design, allowing for easy sanitizing.
  • The Samsung Q1U-SSDXP comes with a 4-cell lithium battery and an AC power adapter. Its software bundle includes Windows XP and a 30-day trial of McAfee Virus Scan. However, the 800 MHz Intel processor is not as large as some of its competitors.
  • The Toshiba Portege M780-S7230 Tablet P comes with a lithium battery and AC adapter, Windows XP, and Toshiba Recovery software. It also includes Disk Creator, a DVD player, face recognition software for added security, and a power-saving utility. The tablet is ultra-thin and lightweight.

Other popular brands include:

* Acer
* Compaq
* Dell
* Gateway
* Medion
* Nvidia
* Tatung
* ViewSonic
* Vikuiti

Tips to consider before buying Tablet PCs

As with any computer, there are a number of buying decisions to make before you select the exact model you want to buy.

  • One consideration is the screen size. This will be determined by how you plan to use the tablet PC. Do you want maximum portability? If so, look for a Mini Tablet PC with a smaller screen and lighter weight. If you want a larger screen for writing, sketching, or reading, the tablet will be larger and heavier as well. Common screen sizes include 7 inches, 9 inches, 10 inches, 12 inches, 13 inches, and 14 inches.
  • If you will be using the tablet PC in an office environment at times, you might consider adding a docking station. This will let you attach a keyboard and mouse while powering the tablet PC.
  • Consider the applications that come with your tablet PC. Windows applications are common for tablet PCs. Other common packages include Tablet PC Ink, which have been specifically designed for tablet PCs. They may incorporate a pen-friendly interface or the ability to write directly in the document, and they are available in different packages designed for different users.

    - The Experience Pack lets the user write on the desktop. It includes Ink Art, a painting program; a Snipping Tool; Ink Crossword, which mimics a paper crossword puzzle; and Media Transfer, which synchronizes and downloads pictures, videos, and music from other computers.

    - The Education Pack includes Ink Flash Cards, which lets users practice memorization by creating flash cards and then displaying them in a slide show; Equation Writer, which converts handwritten math equations to a computer-generated image that can be copied to other documents; GoBinder, designed for taking notes; and Hexic Deluxe, a tablet PC game that increases the user's skill with the tablet functions.

Jargon Explained

To understand tablet PCs, there are a few terms you need to understand:

Bluetooththis is a common wireless connectivity option, allowing computers to communicate wirelessly with devices like keyboards or printers.
HDMIHigh-definition multi-media interface. This is a connection port that allows computers and televisions to transfer high-quality video and audio signals without compressing the signals.
RFIDRadio Frequency Identification, which is similar to bar code identification. A reader scans the data from the tag, which emits radio frequency signals. It is used for inventory control, tracking, health care records, and many field applications.
GHz and MHzGigahertz and megahertz, respectively. This is a measure of how fast the computer processes data and instructions. GHz represents 1 billion cycles and MHz is 1 million cycles, which is number of instructions executed in a second. 

Buying Guide to Tablet PCs
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