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Tablet personal computer

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HP Compaq tablet PC with rotating/removable keyboard

A tablet personal computer (tablet PC) is a portable personal computer equipped with a touchscreen as a primary input device[1] and designed to be operated and owned by an individual.[2] The term was made popular as a concept presented by Microsoft in 2001,[3] but tablet PCs now refer to any tablet-sized personal computer, regardless of the operating system.[4]

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,[5] web browsers,[6] 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.[7]

Contents

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[edit] System Software

[edit] Microsoft Windows

Following Windows for Pen Computing, Microsoft has been developing support for tablets runnings Windows under the Microsoft Tablet PC name.[8] According to a 2001 Microsoft definition[9] 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.[10] 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.[11][12][13] 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.[14]

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,[15] 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.[16] 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.[17][18] 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.

[edit] 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:

Experience Pack
  • Ink Desktop: an Active Desktop control designed to run in the background and allow the user to write directly on the desktop.
  • Snipping Tool: a screen capture application which allows the tablet pen to be used to select a portion of the screen and then annotate it and save as a file or send in an email.
  • Ink Art: a painting application developed by Ambient Design originally as ArtRage, licensed to Microsoft for release to Tablet PC users.
  • Ink Crossword: a crossword application developed to mirror the experience of a paper crossword puzzle on a tablet PC.
  • Media Transfer: a synchronization utility designed to download music, pictures, and videos from computers in the same network.
Education Pack
  • Ink Flash Cards: an application designed to assist memorization by using a flash card approach, enabling the user to hand write their own flash cards and display them back in a slide show.
  • Equation Writer: a recognition tool specializing in converting handwritten mathematical equations to a computer-generated image for pasting into other documents.
  • GoBinder Lite: an organization and note-taking application developed by Agilix Labs.
  • Hexic Deluxe: a game with a tablet PC specific gesture enabled for easier use with the tablet and better.

[edit] Linux

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.[19]

TabletKiosk currently offers a hybrid digitizer / touch device running openSUSE Linux. It is the first device with this feature to support Linux.

[edit] Android

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.[20] 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.[21] There is, moreover, talk of tablet support from Google coming to its web-centric Chrome OS.[22][23] Some vendors such as Motorola are delaying deployment of their tablet computers until 2011, after Android is reworked to include more tablet features.[24][25]

[edit] MeeGo

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.[citation needed]

[edit] OLPC

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.

[edit] Apple OS X

Axiotron introduced the Modbook, a heavily modified Apple MacBook, Mac OS X-based tablet computer at Macworld in 2007.[26] 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.

[edit] Popular models

To compare various Tablet PCs, visit the Tablet PC comparison page.

[edit] 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.[27] 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.[citation needed] 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.

[edit] Timeline of tablet PC history

The following timeline list gives some of the highlights of this history:

  • Before 1950
  • 1950s
    • Tom Dimond demonstrates the Styalator electronic tablet with pen for computer input and software for recognition of handwritten text in real-time.[33]
  • Early 1960s
    • RAND Tablet invented.[34][35] The RAND Tablet is better known than the Styalator, but was invented later.
Wireless tablet device in the movie 2001: A space odyssey
  • 1982
    • Pencept of Waltham, Massachusetts markets a general-purpose computer terminal using a tablet and handwriting recognition instead of a keyboard and mouse.[36]
    • Cadre System markets the Inforite point-of-sale terminal using handwriting recognition and a small electronic tablet and pen.[37]
  • 1985
    • Pencept[38] and CIC[39] both offer PC computers for the consumer market using a tablet and handwriting recognition instead of a keyboard and mouse. Operating system is MS-DOS.
  • 1989
    • The first commercially available tablet-type portable computer was the GRiDPad[40] from GRiD Systems, released in September. Its operating system was based on MS-DOS.
    • Wang Laboratories introduces Freestyle. Freestyle was an application that would do a screen capture from an MS-DOS application, and let the user add voice and handwriting annotations. It was a sophisticated predecessor to later note-taking applications for systems like the Tablet PC.[41] The operating system was MS-DOS
    • In partnership with Fujitsu, the Poqet Computer Corporation announced the arrival of the Poqet PC.
  • 1991
    • The Momenta Pentop was released.[42]
    • GO Corporation announced a dedicated operating system, called PenPoint OS, featuring control of the operating system desktop via handwritten gesture shapes.[43][44] Gestures included "flick" gestures in different directions, check-marks, cross-outs, pig-tails, and circular shapes, among others.
    • NCR released model 3125 pen computer running MS-DOS, Penpoint OS or Pen Windows.[45]
    • The Apple Newton entered development; although it ultimately became a PDA, its original concept (which called for a larger screen and greater sketching capabilities) resembled the hardware of a Tablet PC.
  • 1992
  • 1993
    • Fujitsu releases the Poqet PC the first pen tablet to use an integrated wireless LAN[47]
    • Apple Computer announces the Newton PDA, also known as the Apple MessagePad, which includes handwriting recognition with a stylus.
    • The IBM releases the ThinkPad, IBM's first commercialized portable tablet computer product available to the consumer market, as the IBM ThinkPad 750P and 360P[48]
    • AT&T introduced the EO Personal Communicator combining PenPoint with wireless communications.
  • 1999
    • The "QBE" pen computer created by Aqcess Technologies wins Comdex Best of Show.[49]
  • 2000
    • PaceBlade develops the first device that meets the Microsoft's Tablet PC standard[50] and received the "Best Hardware" award at VAR Vision 2000
    • The "QBE Vivo" pen computer created by Aqcess Technologies ties for Comdex Best of Show.
  • 2001
    • Bill Gates of Microsoft demonstrates the first public prototype of a Tablet PC (defined by Microsoft as a pen-enabled computer conforming to hardware specifications devised by Microsoft and running a licensed copy of the "Windows XP Tablet PC Edition" operating system)[51] at Comdex.
  • 2003
    • PaceBlade receives the "Innovation des Jahres 2002/2003" award for the PaceBook Tablet PC from PC Professionell Magazine at the Cebit
    • Fingerworks[52] develops the touch technology and touch gestures later used in the Apple iPhone.
  • 2006
    • Samsung introduces the Samsung Q1 UMPC.
    • Windows Vista released for general availability. Vista included the functionality of the special Tablet PC edition of Windows XP.
    • On Disney Channel Original Movie, Read It and Weep, Jamie uses a Tablet PC for her journal.
  • 2007
    • Axiotron introduces Modbook, the first (and only) tablet computer based on Mac hardware and Mac OS X at Macworld.[26]
  • 2008
    • In April 2008, as part of a larger federal court case, the gesture features of the Windows/Tablet PC operating system and hardware were found to infringe on a patent by GO Corp. concerning user interfaces for pen computer operating systems.[53] Microsoft's acquisition of the technology is the subject of a separate lawsuit.[54][55]
    • HP releases the second Multi-Touch capable tablet: the HP TouchSmart tx2 series.[56]
  • 2009
    • Asus announces a tablet netbook, the EEE PC T91 and T91MT, the latter which features a multi-touch screen.
    • Always Innovating announced a new tablet netbook with an ARM CPU.
    • Motion Computing launched the J3400.
  • 2010
    • MobileDemand launches the xTablet T7000 Rugged Tablet PC which runs a full Windows OS and features include a integrated numeric keypad, bar code scanner, credit card reader, etc.
    • Apple unveils the iPad, running Apple iOS.
    • Quaduro Systems unveils the 10" QuadPad 3G Plus, the first 900 gram Microsoft Windows based 3G tablet PC with 8 hours battery life.
    • Samsung unveils the Galaxy Tab, running Google Android.
    • Neofonie releases the WeTab, a MeeGo-based slate tablet PC, featuring an 11.6 inch multi-touch screen at 1366×768 pixels resolution.[57]
    • Dixons Retail plc unveils the Advent Vega, a 10" tablet PC running Android 2.2, having a 1 GHz NVIDIA Tegra chipset, 512 Mb of RAM and ROM, 1.3 MP camera, WiFi b/g connectivity, Bluetooth 2.1, a micro SD card slot, a USB port and a 16h battery life for audio playback and 6.5h for 1080p video.[58]
    • Dell Announces the Inspiron Duo A flip screen Netbook and Tablet PC hybrid

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