Tablet PCs are the hottest trend in the computing marketplace. Their popularity has been spurred by the highly coveted iPad and the new iPad2, both Apple products running on Apple's proprietary operating system. Tablet PC makers have struggled to try to catch up with the lightweight iPads, offering a range of new entries in late 2010 and early 2011. A few tablet PCs come in 7-inch models, but the most functional are the iPad-size 10-inch versions such as the $300 Viewsonic G-Tablet, the $500 Acer Iconia and the $600 Motorola Xoom. A study in early 2011 reported that 3 percent of Americans owned iPads and another 2 percent owned other brands of tablets.
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Tablet PCs are sleek, lightweight and affordable, so they must pack a bundle of energy into a sleek package. This starts with the touch-sensitive screen. A tablet's screen has to serve as the monitor and keyboard to save physical space. The screens are capable of rendering brilliant color photos and HD-quality video suitable for professional presentations. Some tablet users opt to purchase a separate USB or Bluetooth keyboard for more extensive writing tasks.
Tablet PCs must use a low-power, yet high-octane microprocessor, also known as the chip or Central Processing Unit (CPU). Two popular tablet PCs, the Motorola Xoom and the Viewsonic G-Tablet, use the Nvidia Tegra 2 processor. A low-power processor allows the tablets to achieve the 8- to 10-hour battery life that the units can achieve at the sacrifice of processing speed. If you want the more powerful Intel Pentium processor or a top-of-the-line AMD chip, you might consider getting a full-scale laptop or maybe even a desktop PC.
Tablet PCs typically pack 1 to 2 gigabytes (GB) of RAM, or Random Access Memory. This is plenty of RAM for basic tasks required of tablets, such as note taking, email reading and video viewing. The RAM helps the tablets load and swap out programs and files. Some tablet PCs are capable of RAM upgrades to 4 GB. This would benefit users who want to do moderate video editing on their tablets.
Tablet PCs typically work online in the manner of a netbook or networked computer. Therefore, hard drive space is held to a minimum if the unit has a native physical drive at all. Typically, tablet PCs come with 16 GB or 32 GB of internal flash memory. Storage can be upgraded with a Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) flash memory card of 4 GB, 8 GB, 16 GB, 32 GB or 64 GB.
Many of the tablet PCs functions are handled by an integrated motherboard that includes a graphics card, wireless network card, four-in-one card reader, USB ports and mini HDMI port. Many of the files and programs -- if not downloaded from the Internet -- are introduced via a USB cable or from a flash drive.