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A tablet computer, commonly shortened to tablet, is a thin, flat mobile computer with a touchscreen display, which is usually in color, processing circuitry, and a rechargeable battery in a single device. Tablets often come equipped with sensors, including digital cameras, a microphone, and an accelerometer, so that images on screens are always displayed upright. The touchscreen display uses the recognition of finger or stylus gestures to replace the mouse, trackpad and keyboard used in laptops.
Tablets are typically larger than smartphones or personal digital assistants with screens 7 inches (18 cm) or larger, measured diagonally. However much of a tablet's functionality resembles that of a modern smartphone, like having a virtual keyboard or running a dedicated 'mobile' operating system.
Tablets can be classified according to the presence and physical appearance of keyboards. Slates and booklets do not have a physical keyboard, and text input and other input is usually entered through the use of a virtual keyboard shown on a touchscreen-enabled display. Hybrids, convertibles, and 2-in-1s do have physical keyboards (although these are usually concealable or detachable), yet they typically also make use of virtual keyboards. Some 2-in-1s have processors and operating systems like a full laptop, whilst having the flexibility of being used as a tablet. Most tablets can use separate keyboards connected using Bluetooth.
Unit sales – global tablet market
Tablet market share (in percent)
- In 1968, computer scientist Alan Kay envisioned a KiddiComp, while a PhD candidate; he developed and described the concept as a Dynabook in his proposal, A personal computer for children of all ages (1972), which outlines the requirements for a conceptual portable educational device that would offer functionality similar to that supplied via a laptop computer, or (in some of its other incarnations) a tablet or slate computer, with the exception of the requirement for any Dynabook device offering near eternal battery life. Adults could also use a Dynabook, but the target audience was children.
- In 1992, Atari showed developers the Stylus, later renamed ST-Pad. The ST-Pad was based on the TOS/GEM Atari ST Platform and prototyped early handwriting recognition. Shiraz Shivji's company Momentus demonstrated in the same time a failed x86 MS-DOS based Pen Computer with its own GUI.
- In 1994, the European Union initiated the NewsPad project, inspired by Clarke and Kubrick's fictional work.Acorn Computers developed and delivered an ARM-based touch screen tablet computer for this program, branding it the "NewsPad"; the project ended in 1997.
Resistive touchscreens are passive and respond to pressure on the screen. They allow a high level of precision, useful in emulating a pointer (as is common in tablet computers) but may require calibration. Because of the high resolution, a stylus or fingernail is often used. Stylus-oriented systems are less suited to multi-touch.
Capacitive touchscreens tend to be less accurate, but more responsive than resistive devices. Because they require a conductive material, such as a finger tip, for input, they are not common among stylus-oriented devices, but are prominent on consumer devices. Most finger-driven capacitive screens do not currently support pressure input (except for the iPhone 6S and later models), but some tablets use a pressure-sensitive stylus or active pen.
- Some tablets can recognize individual palms, while some professional-grade tablets use pressure-sensitive films, such as those on graphics tablets. Some capacitive touch-screens can detect the size of the touched area and the pressure used.
Accelerometer: Detects the physical movement and orientation of the tablet. This allows the touchscreen display to shift to either portrait or landscape mode. In addition, tilting the tablet may be used as an input (for instance to steer in a driving game)
- Ambient light and proximity sensors, to detect if the device is close to something, in particular, to your ear, etc., which help to distinguish between intentional and unintentional touches.
Speech recognition Google introduced voice input in Android 2.1 in 2009 and voice actions in 2.2 in 2010, with up to five languages (now around 40).Siri was introduced as a system-wide personal assistant on the iPhone 4S in 2011 and now supports nearly 20 languages. In both cases the voice input is sent to central servers to perform general speech recognition and therefore requires a network connection for more than simple commands.
- Gesture recognition
Character recognition to write text on the tablet, that can be stored as any other text in the intended storage, instead of using a keyboard.
Near field communication with other compatible devices including ISO/IEC 14443 RFID tags.
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