All things modern.
Tablet computers have been around now for decades, but they have always been touch screen PCs, i.e. portable computers without a keyboard running full desktop operating systems. They never caught on in the mainstream consumer market (even till today) because the compromises required to make such a computer made it too difficult to use for everyday computing.
So what has changed to make tablets in their current form so popular?
1 – The way we use computers:
The internet has exploded meaning that content is available like never before. There is now not only a sea of information but with the spread of broadband, music and video as well. The internet is now a one stop shop for information as well as entertainment. As a consequence of this, people who would never need a computer at home for traditional pc tasks like word processing are buying PCs simply to access this content as well as email and social networking. Suddenly, a market for low powered net-access machines appeared and this was filled by the now famous netbook.
2 – Technology:
While netbooks are essentially stripped down laptops, the tablet focuses even more closely on the requirements of the net-consumer by adding a touch screen and removing the keyboard. When text entry is limited to entering passwords and typing a facebook status, suddenly the keyboard becomes a bothersome appendage. Get rid of this, add a touch screen and voila, a tablet. Today’s technology allows tablets to be made thin, light and have big bright, high resolution screens making them very attractive.
3 – Operating System:
As the hardware has evolved, operating systems have been developed to work around the usability constraints. Because the need for content creation is minimal, the operating system can be slimmed down. Removal of capability ultimately means fewer controls which allow big finger-able buttons and menus. It is a good touch friendly OS at the heart of the tablet that allows us to use the touch screen efficiently without a keyboard, pointing device or stylus. This at a stroke allows the elimination of these cumbersome accessories as well as giving the user a friendly intuitive interface for information consumption.
DO buy a tablet if you spend a lot of time browsing the internet, watching videos, listening to music, use internet shopping sites, facebooking (not an official word yet but give it time) and so on.
Do NOT buy a tablet if you plan to write long emails, word processing, software/web development, CAD, photoshop (you could probably get away with using paint) and so on.
So for the majority of people out there, Happy Tabletting!! (this will also soon be a proper word)