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Tablet personal computer
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A tablet personal computer (tablet PC) is a portable personal computer equipped with a touchscreen as a primary input device and designed to be operated and owned by an individual. The term was made popular as a concept presented by Microsoft in 2001, but tablet PCs now refer to any tablet-sized personal computer, regardless of the operating system.
Unlike laptops, tablet personal computers may not be equipped with a keyboard, in which case they use a virtual onscreen substitute. All tablet personal computers have a wireless adapter for Internet and local network connection. Software applications for tablet PCs include office suites, web browsers, games and a variety of applications. However, since portable computer hardware components are low powered, demanding PC applications may not provide an ideal experience to the user.
 System Software
 Microsoft Windows
Following Windows for Pen Computing, Microsoft has been developing support for tablets runnings Windows under the Microsoft Tablet PC name. According to a 2001 Microsoft definition of the term, "Microsoft Tablet PCs" are pen-based, fully functional x86 PCs with handwriting and voice recognition functionality. Tablet PCs use the same hardware as normal laptops but add support for pen input. For specialized support for pen input, Microsoft released Windows XP Tablet PC Edition. Today there is no tablet specific version of Windows but instead support is built in to both Home and Business versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7. Tablets running Windows get the added functionality of using the touchscreen for mouse input, hand writing recognition, and gesture support. Following Tablet PC, Microsoft announced the UMPC initiative in 2006 which brought Windows tablets to a smaller, touch-centric form factor. This was relaunched in 2010 as Slate PC, to promote tablets running Windows 7, ahead of Apple's iPad launch. Slate PCs are expected to benefit from mobile hardware advances derived from the success of the netbooks.
While many tablet manufacturers are moving to the ARM architecture with lighter operating systems, Microsoft has stood firm to Windows. Though Microsoft has Windows CE for ARM support it has kept its target market for the smartphone industry with Windows Mobile and the new Windows CE 6 based Windows Phone 7. Some manufacturers, however, still have shown prototypes of Windows CE-based tablets running a custom shell.
With the succession of Windows Vista, the Tablet PC functionality no longer required a separate edition. Tablet PC support is built into all editions of Windows Vista with the exception of Home Basic and Starter editions. This extends the handwriting recognition, ink collection, and additional input methods to any computer running Vista even if the input device is an external digitizer, a touch screen, or even a regular mouse. Vista also supports Multi-Touch functions and gestures (originally developed for the Microsoft Surface version of Vista) and is now usable by the public with the release of Multi-Touch tablets. Windows Vista also significantly improved handwriting recognition functionality with the introduction a handwriting recognition personalization tool as well as an automatic handwriting learning tool.
Tablet functionality is available in all editions of Windows 7 except the Starter edition. It introduces a new Math Input Panel that recognizes handwritten math expressions and formulas, and integrates with other programs. Windows 7 also significantly improved pen input and handwriting recognition by becoming faster, more accurate, and supportive of more languages, including East Asian writing systems. Personalized custom dictionaries help with the recognition of specialized vocabulary (like medical and technical terms), and text prediction speeds up the input process to make note-taking faster. Multi-Touch technology is also available on some Tablet PCs, enabling more advanced interaction using touch gestures with your fingers the same way a mouse is used. Despite such advances, problems may arise with tablet functions of the OS, when, for instance, touch screen drivers are recognized as PS/2 mouse input rather than a touch input device. In such instances tablet functions may be unavailable or severely restricted in functionality.
Windows 7 touch capability is built with Microsoft Surface technologies. This is a gesture and touch-centric UI enhancement that works with most current touch computers. Windows has a history of tablet technology including Windows XP Tablet PC Edition. Tablet PC Edition is a superset of Windows XP Professional, the difference being tablet functionality, including alternate text input (Tablet PC Input Panel) and basic drivers for support of tablet PC specific hardware. Requirements to install Tablet PC Edition include a tablet digitizer or touchscreen device, and hardware control buttons including a Ctrl-Alt-Delete shortcut button, scrolling buttons, and at least one user-configurable application button.
 Windows applications
Applications developed for the tablet PC cater to the form factor and functionality available on the platform. Many forms of applications incorporate a pen-friendly user interface and/or the ability to hand write directly in the document or interface.
A brief description of the applications included follows:
One early implementation of a Linux tablet was the ProGear by FrontPath. The ProGear used a Transmeta chip and a resistive digitizer. The ProGear initially came with a version of Slackware Linux, but could later be bought with Windows 98. Because these computers are general purpose IBM PC compatible machines, they can run many different operating systems. However, the device is no longer for sale and FrontPath has ceased operations. It is important to note that many touch screen sub-notebook computers can run any of several Linux distributions with little customization.
X.org now supports screen rotation and tablet input through Wacom drivers, and handwriting recognition software from both the Qt-based Qtopia and GTK+-based Internet Tablet OS provide promising free and open source systems for future development.
Open source note taking software in Linux includes applications such as Xournal (which supports PDF file annotation), Gournal (a Gnome based note taking application), and the Java-based Jarnal (which supports handwriting recognition as a built-in function). Before the advent of the aforementioned software, many users had to rely on on-screen keyboards and alternative text input methods like Dasher. There is a stand alone handwriting recognition program available, CellWriter, which requires users to write letters separately in a grid.
A number of Linux based OS projects are dedicated to tablet PCs. Since all these are open source, they are freely available and can be run or ported to devices that conform to the tablet PC design. Maemo (rebranded MeeGo in 2010), a Debian Linux based graphical user environment, was developed for the Nokia Internet Tablet devices (770, N800, N810 & N900). It is currently in generation 5, and has a vast array of applications available in both official and user supported repositories. The Ubuntu Netbook Remix edition, as well as the Intel sponsored Moblin project, both have touchscreen support integrated into their user interfaces. Canonical has hinted at better supporting tablets with the Unity UI for Ubuntu 10.10.
TabletKiosk currently offers a hybrid digitizer / touch device running openSUSE Linux. It is the first device with this feature to support Linux.
Google's linux-based Android operating system has been targeted by manufacturers for the tablet space following its success on smartphones due to its open nature and support for low-cost ARM systems much like Apple's iOS. In 2010, there have been numerous announcements of such tablets. However, much of Android's tablet initiative comes from manufacturers as Google primarily focuses its development on smartphones and restricts the App Market from non-phone devices. There is, moreover, talk of tablet support from Google coming to its web-centric Chrome OS. Some vendors such as Motorola are delaying deployment of their tablet computers until 2011, after Android is reworked to include more tablet features.
Nokia entered the tablet space with the Nokia 770 running Maemo, a Debian-based Linux distribution custom-made for their Internet Tablet line. The product line continued with the N900 which is the first to add phone capabilities. Intel, following the launch of the UMPC, started the Mobile Internet Device initiative, which took the same hardware and combined it with a Linux operating system custom-built for portable tablets. Intel co-developed the lightweight Moblin operating system following the successful launch of the Atom CPU series on netbooks.
MeeGo is a new operating system developed by Intel and Nokia supports Netbooks, Smartphones and Tablet PCs. In 2010, Nokia and Intel combined the Maemo and Moblin projects to form MeeGo. The first[clarification needed] MeeGo powered tablet PC is the Neofonie WeTab. The WeTab uses an extended version of the MeeGo operating system called WeTab OS. WeTab OS adds runtimes for Android and Adobe AIR and provides a proprietary user interface optimized for the WeTab device.
the OLPC organization is developing a new version of the OLPC, strongly resembling a tablet computer, called the OLPC XO-3, running its "Sugar desktop environment", on top of a Linux kernel. Some people classify the original OLPC as a "personal computer", whether this will be true for the XO-3 remains to be seen.
 Apple OS X
Axiotron introduced the Modbook, a heavily modified Apple MacBook, Mac OS X-based tablet computer at Macworld in 2007. The Modbook used Apple's Inkwell for handwriting and gesture recognition, and used digitization hardware from Wacom. To get Mac OS X to talk to the digitizer on the integrated tablet, the Modbook was supplied with a third-party driver called TabletMagic. Wacom does not provide driver support for this device.
 Popular models
To compare various Tablet PCs, visit the Tablet PC comparison page.
 Screen size trends
Many Tablet PC makers have standardized on a 12" widescreen format, with a resolution of 1280x800 pixels. The Fujitsu T5010 has a larger 13.3" display, but still runs at the 1280x800 pixel resolution. The Acer TravelMate C300 has a 14.1" screen at 1024x768.
The 12" form factor is optimal for the power, size and weight considerations required for portability. Although there is some demand for larger Tablet PC screen sizes from consumers, larger screens add significant weight and bulk to Tablet PCs. They also require more power, therefore larger, heavier batteries or shorter battery life.
 Timeline of tablet PC history
The following timeline list gives some of the highlights of this history:
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