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ipad.jpgPeople constantly bombard me with questions regarding iPads and similar tablets. They want to know if these devices are really computers and how they can be useful without a keyboard. They also want to know if they really need one and if tablets have staying power or they are just a fad. So this article is for all of you with iPad/Tablet questions.

ipad.jpgBy now everyone has heard of the iPad and the competing tablet PCs. We will call these gadgets "tablets." They include Apple iPads and other tablet-like devices including Android-run devices like the Motorola Zoom and the Samsung Tab. They also include devices with different operating systems like the newly-released HP TouchPad and the Blackberry Playbook. Most of these are thin, lightweight devices, similar in size or just slightly larger than a stenographer's pad.

A tablet has a microprocessor chip just like a full-fledged computer. In fact, much of a tablet's hardware and basic design mimics that of the computer. The biggest difference is that a tablet is not created to run large programs like Adobe Photoshop, high-end video editing programs, or complex spreadsheets. Compared to computers, tablets have very small hard drives, so they cannot store as much information as a computer.

Instead of large programs, tablets run smaller programs called Apps. These Apps do things like play games, play music, display sports scores, and look up stock quotes. Some of these apps can edit photos, edit video, and create spreadsheets, but they cannot perform complex high-end computations like a full blown computer.

Yet, for everyday computing tasks, the tablet excels. It can easily browse the Internet and send and receive email, as well as display pertinent information like weather, news, and sport scores.

Most tablets connect to the Internet via wireless networks, which can be found either in homes, offices, or on the road. Some can also use a cellular network like Verizon or AT&T to connect to the Internet. This, along with their small portable size, makes them useful almost anywhere. With a tablet, you are no longer tied to a computer desk as you were with a desktop computer. Because most tablets have all-day battery life, you no longer have to be tethered to an electric outlet like you were with a laptop computer.

Tablets have additional hardware that is not always found even in full-fledged computers. Most have touch screens, gyroscopes, built-in GPS systems, and built-in cameras.  This allows them to actually replace several other devices that you may already own. Those with GPS systems and cellular connections can replace in-car GPS systems. Tablets can become your everyday digital camera. Those with dual cameras can be used over the Internet for video chatting with friends and family.

It is quite easy to get used to using the touch screen on a tablet for typing information. However, you can also add a physical keyboard, if you like. These tablets have built-in voice recognition, so you may not even need a keyboard.  If you are searching the Web you can simply start Google, say the word or phrase you are searching for, and see the results. You can also use this voice recognition to dictate email. Many people find it even easier than typing.

Tablets also make excellent e-book readers. They allow you to download digital books directly to tablet and/or to transfer them from a computer. You can then use a tablet to read a book anytime and anyplace. Tablets can also act as digital picture frames. Just add your own photos, set the tablet upright to display, and it will automatically produce a slide show to show off all of your digital photos. You can also use a tablet to play music, listen to audio books, and to watch television and movies.

One of the best things about tablets is that they are always handy. They can sit on the kitchen table, be placed just about anywhere in the house, and/or be carried in a purse or pocketbook. If you charge them at night, you don't have to worry about plugging them in during the day. Just pick them up and use them. They are always ready for a good game of solitaire or for playing Angry Birds (currently the most popular tablet game.)

Tablets are very customizable. You can easily add just the Apps that you want to use. There are currently hundreds of thousands of Apps available, so you are sure to be able to find an App that will do just about anything you like. There are Apps that will help you count calories, organize your schedule, improve your vocabulary, listen to the radio, translate languages, plan a vacation, and even find a recipe for dinner.

New apps are being constantly written for doctors, lawyers, and other specialized circumstances. So tablets are appearing everywhere from medical offices to restaurants. They are definitely not a fad. They have already become indispensible devices for many of those who use them.