iPad 3Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pahudson/6841012780/

It has been fascinating to witness the growing popularity of tablet computers since they were first introduced onto the market only a few short years ago. Much like cell phones and then smartphones, they have become crucial to many people's lives. However, it was not always a certainty that they would be such a success, and initially many industry commentators believed that they would never catch on.


Computer technology has gradually evolved from desktop computers, to notebook laptops, to smaller netbooks. The next stage in this evolution is tablet computers, which are smaller and lighter, and therefore more convenient, than traditional laptops. They have touchscreen functionality rather than incorporating a physical keyboard. Although it is not always the case, they can often be bought considerably more cheaply than either desktop computers or laptops. Perhaps most importantly, they are incredibly versatile, and can be used for business, education, and entertainment purposes, as well as for browsing the Internet.


Initially the tablet computer market was dominated by the Apple iPad, and to a certain extent it still is. In fact, the iPad is now in its third generation. However, the substantial sales of Apple's devices have encouraged other manufacturers to bring out their own tablet computers. This means that there is now a huge amount of choice for the consumer. For example, tablets are available in different colors and sizes, with screens of seven or ten inches being the most common.


It is important when buying a tablet computer to be aware of the specifications for that particular device. The more modern tablets are incredibly advanced from a technological perspective. They have super fast quad core processors, 4G wireless capability, and large amounts of memory. This means that they can handle high definition videos and graphically intensive games with ease. Another factor which will influence your choice of tablet is the operating system used. The majority incorporate Google's Android system, however Apple have their own iOS5, soon to be updated to iOS6, and Microsoft have also developed a version of Windows 8 specifically for tablet computers.


This is an indication of how seriously the big players in the computer and technology industry are taking the demand for tablet computers. Not content with simply providing an operating system for other devices, Microsoft have now announced their own tablet, the Surface. Apple are continually having to develop their iPad to stay ahead of the competition, which has resulted in a prolonged copyright infringement lawsuit with Samsung. Other companies to enjoy a strong presence in the tablet market include Asus, Acer. HTC, and Toshiba. Google, the owners of the Android operating system, recently entered the tablet market in their own right with the launch of the Google Nexus 7. Google employed Asus to manufacture the tablet, and it is considered to be one of the most technologically advanced tablet computers available for its price point.


There is undoubtedly a lot to consider when buying a tablet computer, and the variety of different models on offer can be confusing. However, this range has occurred as a result of the demand for these devices, and ultimately the choice can only be a good thing for the consumer. With a little research it is possible to buy an affordable, powerful tablet to meet all of your computing needs.