At a recent press event Microsoft announced they are making their first moves into the lucrative tablet market, a market which has been dominated by Apple and Google up until now. For those out of the loop, over the past few years tablet computing has taken off at a faster pace than anyone could have predicted. It's only been two years since the first iPad was released and yet according to Apple their tablet regularly sells 2.5 million units a month.
Veterans of the tablet computer might see their iPad or Android device as an extension of themselves, never far from their fingertips and infinitely useful. But for those millions of people each month who buy their first tablet computer we've put together the beginner's guide to tablet computers.
Apple's iPad kick started the tablet market back in 2010 and has since sold nearly 70 million units. The iPad's success is down to its minimalistic design, ease of use and elegance. It is the tablet your grandma would be able to understand, and yet it also has the power seasoned users crave. The latest iPad comes with Apple's high definition Retina Display which makes reading or web surfing less straining on the eyes. The iPad comes packaged with a basic software suite that includes a calendar, notepad (so you can show off your new gadget in meetings) and a music player that syncs with iTunes. If you plan to use your iPad for video or photo editing, office tasks or gaming you may have to pay for extra apps from Apple's App Store. Apple iPads start from £399 and are available from Apple's website.
Asus Transformer Pad 300
Android is Google's mobile phone and tablet operating system. It is like Microsoft Windows or Apple OS X and runs in the background, allowing apps to work. There are a host of Android tablets but leading the way at present is the Asus Transformer Pad 300. Unlike the iPad, Asus' tablet features a detachable keyboard meaning it could replace your old laptop or notebook. The Transformer Pad 300 is also slightly faster than the iPad, according to the products' web pages. If you have a Google account you can sync all your documents through Google's new Drive feature and even edit the same document on your PC and tablet simultaneously. If you're looking for something more personal the Asus tablet comes in three different colours - red, white and blue. The Transformer Pad 300 starts at £399 and will be released imminently.
Although traditionally a software company Microsoft has started to diversify in recent years. Microsoft are having considerable success with its other hardware, such as Xbox and Kinect, so it makes sense for them to move into the tablet market. During a recent preview Microsoft announced its first tablet computer, the Microsoft Surface. The Surface will be lighter and thinner than both the iPad and the Asus Transformer Pad 300, however it does weigh slightly more than both devices. Microsoft's cover has a built in keyboard and mouse which should make it easy to run Microsoft Office apps. If you want to run the full version of Windows 8, rather than the limited version, Microsoft are offering a more expensive pro version of their tablet. Microsoft Surface will launch with Windows 8 and its price is to be confirmed.
So there you have it, three great tablets from across the market. Whether you're looking to replace your old laptop or complete your gadget collection these devices should whet your appetite.