The idea of tablet computing is generally credited to Alan Kay of Xerox, who sketched out the idea in 1971. The first widely sold tablet computer was Apple Computer’s Newton, which was not a commercial success. Technological advances in battery life, display resolution, handwriting recognition software, memory, and wireless internet access have since made tablets a viable computing option.
Today, the most common type of tablet is the slate-style, like Apple’s iPad, Microsoft’s Surface or Amazon’s Kindle Fire. External keyboards are available for most slate-style tablets, and some keyboards also function as docking stations for the devices.
Other styles of tablets include:
- Convertible tablets. These typically have a display that rotates 180 degrees and can be folded to close, screen up, over an integrated hardware keyboard. Convertible models may allow user input through a variety of methods in addition to the hardware keyboard, including natural handwriting with a stylus or digital pen and typing through a screen-based software keyboard.
- Hybrid tablets. Sometimes referred to as convertible or hybrid notebooks, a hybrid is like a regular notebook, but has a removable display that functions independently as a slate.
- Rugged tablets. A slate-like model that is designed to withstand rough handling and extreme conditions. Rugged tablets are usually encased in a thick protective shell and have shock protected hard drives.