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Part I: Today’s Technology > The Next-Generation Laptop: Tablet PCs

Chapter 31. The Next-Generation Laptop: Tablet PCs

You may intuitively think of tablet PCs as providing a subset of the functionality offered by a traditional laptop and being more closely related to handheld personal digital assistants. In fact, the opposite may well be closer to the truth. Tablet PCs are becoming a superset of the traditional laptop, providing all the features you expect in a laptop together with powerful new features such as digital pen and ink, and speech recognition. Digital pen-and-ink capability means that these tablet PCs can be used to record your own handwriting directly onscreen by using a special pen, and the tablet PC will render your writing in a digital ink on the surface of the screen. What’s more, when compared to a traditional laptop, they often have longer battery life, are lighter weight, and feature built-in wireless capability. Their hot-docking functionality means that they can be quickly docked and undocked from standard keyboards, monitors, and mouse products at your desk.

Many tablet PCs are offered in a “clamshell” variety, in which they include attached keyboards and offer displays with a swivel capability, in which the display attaches to the keyboard base. For laptop-style functionality, you simply open the clamshell tablet PC and swivel the display around horizontally so it is on the inside of the device above the keyboard instead of facing outward. The other typical form factor is the “slate” variety, in which the display faces outward the entire time and a detachable keyboard is required for data entry purposes (other than using the pen).


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