Mini tablets are smaller and lighter than full-sized tablets. The first successful ones wereintroduced by Samsung (Galaxy Tab 7-inch), Barnes and Noble (the Nook), BlackberryPlaybook, and Amazon (the Kindle Fire) in 2011, and by Google (the Nexus 7) in 2012. Most ofthem work like a regular tablet, though some of them may not have all the features and functionsfound in bigger tablet computers. The typical mini tablet is generally 6 or 7 inches (15 - 17.6 cm)diagonal. Mini tablets, such as the Toshiba Regza 6-inch tablet and the Sylvania 7-inch, areeasier to transport in pockets and purses than the larger 9+ inch types, such as the iPad.Apple has released their own smaller version of the iPad tablet, called the iPad Mini. Its size is7.9 inches, almost 2 inches smaller than the regular size iPad tablet, which is at 9.7 inches. Thisis thought to compete with other mini-tablets, such as the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire. Appleannounced the new smaller-sized tablet on October 23, 2012.PhabletSince 2010, crossover touch-screen devices with screens of 5-inches and above have beenreleased. That size is generally considered too large for a touch-screen smartphone and too smallfor a tablet, creating a hybrid category different from the previous common classifications. Thishybrid is being called a phablet by Forbes and Engadget. Phablet is a portmanteau of the wordsphone and tablet. Popular examples of phablets are the LG Optimus Vu, Samsung GalaxyNote and Dell Streak. The rival term PhoneTab has not caught on. Samsung claims they hadshipped a million units of the Galaxy Note within two months of introducing it.System architectureSee also: Comparison of tablet computersTwo major computer architectures dominate the tablet market, Intels x86 and ARMarchitecture.Intels x86, including x86-64 has provided the brains of the IBM compatible PC since 1981, andApples Mac computers since 2006. The CPUs have been incorporated into a number of tabletPCs over the years and have generally offered greater performance along with the ability to run afull versions of Microsoft Windows, along with the associated 25 years of associated Windowsdesktop and enterprise applications on the devices. There are also non-Windows based x86tablets like the JooJoo.ARM has been the CPU architecture of choice for: mobile phone, pda, camera, set-top box, dslrouters, television, storage device and tablet computer manufacturers this century. Thisdominance dates back to the release of the mobile focused and comparatively power / batteryefficient 32 bit ARM610 SoC (System On a Chip) originally designed for the Apple Newton andAcorn A4 back in 1993. The chip was rapidly adopted by the likes of Psion, Palm and Nokia fortheir own PDA offerings and later smart phones, camera phones, cameras, etc..... ARMslicensing model has also helped in this spread and current dominance of the mobile device space;by allowing device manufacturers to: licence, alter and fabricate custom SoC derivatives,
specifically tailored to their own products. This has helped manufacturers extend battery life andshrink the component count along with the devices size. The multiple licensee have also ensuredmultiple generic ARM fabricators are supplying near identical products into the market, whileencouraging price competition.This has historically forced unit prices down to a fraction of theirx86 equivalents, as well as offering the manufacture some insurance against supply insecurities.The architecture has historically had limited support from Microsoft, with only Windows CEavailable, but with the release of Windows 8, in 2012, Microsoft has announced greater supportfor the architecture, as well as shipping their own range of ARM based tablet computers, brandedas the Microsoft Surface, though a later x86 Atom based PRO variant of the Surface will bedeliveredOperating systems and vendorsTablets, like regular computers, can run a number of operating systems. These come in twoclasses, namely traditional desktop-based operating systems and post-PC mobile-based ("phone-like") operating systems.For the former class popular OSs are Microsoft Windows, and a range of Linux distributions.HP is developing enterprise-level tablets under Windows and consumer-oriented tablets underwebOS. In the latter class the popular variants include Apple iOS, and Google Android.Manufacturers are also testing the market for products with Windows CE, Chrome OS, andso forth.Traditional Tablet PC operating systemsMicrosoftMain article: Microsoft Tablet PCFollowing Windows for Pen Computing, Microsoft has been developing support for tabletsrunning Windows under the Microsoft Tablet PC name. According to a 2001 Microsoftdefinition of the term, "Microsoft Tablet PCs" are pen-based, fully functional x86 PCs withhandwriting and voice recognition functionality. Tablet PCs use the same hardware as normallaptops but add support for pen input. For specialized support for pen input, Microsoft releasedWindows XP Tablet PC Edition. Today there is no tablet specific version of Windows butinstead support is built in to both Home and Business versions of Windows Vista and Windows7. Tablets running Windows get the added functionality of using the touchscreen for mouseinput, hand writing recognition, and gesture support. Following Tablet PC, Microsoft announcedthe UMPC initiative in 2006 which brought Windows tablets to a smaller, touch-centric formfactor. This was relaunched in 2010 as Slate PC, to promote tablets running Windows 7, aheadof Apples iPad launch. Slate PCs are expected to benefit from mobile hardware advancesderived from the success of the netbooks.While many tablet manufacterurs are moving to the ARM architecture with lighter operatingsystems, Microsoft has stood firm to Windows. Microsoft has announced Windows 8which will have the new Metro user interface suited to touchscreen devices such as tablets. .
For the first time, Windows will be able to run the ARM architecture because of Windows RTwhich can run on processors from NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments Microsofthas also launched their own tablet called the Microsoft Surface.Prior to Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, Windows CE was used to target smart phones in theform of Windows Phone 7. Windows Phone 8 uses the same code as Windows 8. Also, somemanufacturers, however, still have shown prototypes of Windows CE-based tablets running acustom shell.LinuxOne early implementation of a Linux tablet was the ProGear by FrontPath. The ProGear used aTransmeta chip and a resistive digitizer. The ProGear initially came with a version of SlackwareLinux, but could later be bought with Windows 98. Because these computers are general purposeIBM PC compatible machines, they can run many different operating systems. However, thedevice is no longer for sale and FrontPath has ceased operations. It is important to note that manytouch screen sub-notebook computers can run any of several Linux distributions with littlecustomization.X.org now supports screen rotation and tablet input through Wacom drivers, and handwritingrecognition software from both the Qt-based Qtopia and GTK+-based Internet Tablet OS providepromising free and open source systems for future development. KDEs Plasma Active isgraphical environments for tablet.Open source note taking software in Linux includes applications such as Xournal (whichsupports PDF file annotation), Gournal (a Gnome based note taking application), and the Java-based Jarnal (which supports handwriting recognition as a built-in function). Before the adventof the aforementioned software, many users had to rely on on-screen keyboards and alternativetext input methods like Dasher. There is a stand alone handwriting recognition programavailable, CellWriter, which requires users to write letters separately in a grid.A number of Linux based OS projects are dedicated to tablet PCs, but many desktop distributionsnow have tablet-friendly interfaces allowing the full set of desktop features on the smallerdevices. Since all these are open source, they are freely available and can be run or ported todevices that conform to the tablet PC design. Maemo (rebranded MeeGo in 2010), a DebianLinux based graphical user environment, was developed for the Nokia Internet Tablet devices(770, N800, N810 & N900). It is currently in generation 5, and has a vast array of applicationsavailable in both official and user supported repositories. Ubuntu since version 11.04 has usedthe tablet-friendly Unity UI, and many other distributions (such as Fedora) use the also tablet-friendly Gnome shell (which can also be installed in Ubuntu if preferred). Previously the UbuntuNetbook Remix edition was one of the only linux distibutions offering a tablet interface with allthe applications and features of a desktop distribution, but this has been phased out with theexpansion of Unity to the desktop. A large number of distributions now have touchscreensupport of some kind, even if their interfaces are not well suited to touch operation.
Canonical has hinted that Ubuntu will be available on tablets, as well as phones and smarttelevisions, by 2014.TabletKiosk currently offers a hybrid digitizer / touch device running openSUSE Linux. It is thefirst device with this feature to support Linux.Intel and NokiaThe Nokia N800Nokia entered the tablet space with the Nokia 770 running Maemo, a Debian-based Linuxdistribution custom-made for their Internet tablet line. The product line continued with the N900which is the first to add phone capabilities. The user interface and application framework layer,named Hildon, was an early instance of a software platform for generic computing in a tabletdevice intended for internet consumption. But Nokia didnt commit to it as their only platformfor their future mobile devices and the project competed against other in-house platforms. Thestrategic advantage of a modern platform was not exploited, being displaced by the Series 60. Intel, following the launch of the UMPC, started the Mobile Internet Device initiative, whichtook the same hardware and combined it with a Linux operating system custom-built for portabletablets. Intel co-developed the lightweight Moblin operating system following the successfullaunch of the Atom CPU series on netbooks. Intel is also setting tablet goals for Atom, goingforward from 2010.MeeGoMain articles: Maemo, MeeGo, and TizenMeeGo is a Linux-based operating system developed by Intel and Nokia that supports Netbooks,Smartphones and Tablet PCs. In 2010, Nokia and Intel combined the Maemo and Moblinprojects to form MeeGo. The first tablet using MeeGo is the Neofonie WeTab launchedSeptember 2010 in Germany. The WeTab uses an extended version of the MeeGo operatingsystem called WeTab OS. WeTab OS adds runtimes for Android and Adobe AIR and provides aproprietary user interface optimized for the WeTab device. On 27 September 2011 it wasannounced by the Linux Foundation that MeeGo will be replaced in 2012 by Tizen, an opensource mobile operating system.
Post-PC operating systemsSee also: Mobile operating systemTablets not following the personal computer (PC) tradition use operating systems in the style ofthose developed for PDAs and smartphones.iPadMain articles: iOS (Apple), iPad, and ModBookThe iPad in a caseThe iPad runs a version of iOS which was first created for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Althoughbuilt on the same underlying Unix implementation as MacOS, the operating system differsradically at the graphical user interface level. iOS is designed for finger based use and has noneof the tiny features which required a stylus on earlier tablets. Apple introduced responsive multitouch gestures, like moving two fingers apart to zoom in. iOS is built for the ARM architecture,which uses less power, and so gives better battery life than the Intel devices used by Windowstablets. Previous to the iPads launch, there were long standing rumors of an Apple tablet, thoughthey were often about a product running Mac OS X and being in line with Apples Macintoshcomputers. This became partially true when a 3rd party offered customized Macbooks withpen input, known as the Modbook.Previous to Apples commercialization of the iPad, Axiotron introduced at Macworld in 2007an aftermarket, heavily modified Apple MacBook called Modbook, a Mac OS X-based tabletpersonal computer. The Modbook uses Apples Inkwell for handwriting and gesture recognition,and uses digitization hardware from Wacom. To get Mac OS X to talk to the digitizer on theintegrated tablet, the Modbook is supplied with a third-party driver called TabletMagic; Wacomdoes not provide driver support for this device.BlackberryThe BlackBerry PlayBook is a tablet computer announced in September 2010 which runs theBlackBerry Tablet OS. The OS is based on the QNX system that Research in Motion acquiredin early 2010. Delivery to developers and enterprise customers was expected in October 2010.The BlackBerry PlayBook was officially released to US and Canadian consumers on April 19,2011.
AndroidMain articles: Android (operating system) and Google Chrome OSAn ASUS Eee Pad Transformer running Android 3.2.1 Honeycomb; the keyboard is part of adocking station for the tablet.Googles Linux-based Android operating system is used by tablet manufacturers following itssuccess on smartphones due to its support for low-cost ARM systems much like Apples iOS.Many were announced in 2010. However, much of Androids tablet initiative came frommanufacturers as long as Google primarily focused on smartphones and restricted the AppMarket from non-phone devices.There is perennial talk of tablet support from Google coming to its web-centric ChromeOS.Some vendors such as Motorola and Lenovo delayed deployment of their tablets until after2011, when Android was reworked to include more tablet features. Android 3.0 (Honeycomb)and later versions are optimized specifically for larger screen sizes, mainly tablets, and haveaccess to the Google Play service. Android is the software stack for mobile devices that includesoperating system, middleware and key applications.Other vendors sell customized tablets such as Nook and Kindle Fire which are used for mobilecontent from their own Website, and seldom from the larger Google Play system. This has led tomarket fragmentation.HPHewlett Packard announced the TouchPad, running webOS 3.0 on a 1.2 GHz Snapdragon CPU,would be released in June 2011. On August 18, 2011, HP announced the discontinuation of theTouchPad, due to sluggish sales. HP has announced that they will release webOS as open-source.One Laptop per Child organization
OLPC XO-3 tablet computerThe One Laptop per Child (OLPC) organization is developing a new version of the OLPC,strongly resembling a tablet computer, called the OLPC XO-3, running its "Sugar" operatingsystem, based on Linux. The new XO-3 will be based on ARM technology from Marvell.IndiaOLPC plans to introduce a tablet computer to India for $100. Nicholas Negroponte, Chairmanof OLPC, has invited the Indian researchers to MIT to begin sharing the OLPC design resourcesfor their tablet computers. OLPC has been awarded a grant for an interim step to their next-generation tablet, OLPC XO-3.Developing software for tablet computersSee also: Mobile developmentThe new class of devices heralded by the iPad has spurred the tendency of a walled gardenapproach, wherein the vendor reserves rights as to what can be installed. The softwaredevelopment kits for these platforms are restricted and the vendor must approve the finalapplication for distribution to users. These restrictions allow the hardware vendor to control thekind of software that can be used and the content that can be seen in the devices; this can be usedto reduce the impact of malware on the platform and to provide material of approved contentrating, and also to exclude software and content from competing vendors. The walled gardenapproach to application development has proven to be a competitive advantage for the iPad overHPs TouchPad, triggering HPs withdrawal from the industry, due in large part to sluggishTouchPad sales after only 49 days on the market.Barnes and Noble adopted the walled garden strategy with its Nook Color and Nook Tablet e-book reader tablets, which FastCompany writer Austin Carr refers to as "an odd idea ofprogress", since B&N lacks the competitive advantages of number of apps and price enjoyed byApple and Amazon.com. B&Ns strategy became especially notable following pronouncementsby B&N executives criticizing Amazon.coms walled garden approach, which they contrastedwith B&Ns emphasis on user choice. Specifically, in a mid-December interview, B&N CEOWilliam Lynch called Amazons Kindle Fire a "deficient" media tablet designed as a "vendingmachine for Amazons services", and a device aimed to "lock consumers into [Amazons]ecosystem". In contrast, B&Ns Nook Tablet gave users choice and a much more "open"
experience which, according to Lynch, may be one of the Nook Tablets most significant sellingpoints. In the same interview, B&Ns director of developer relations Claudia Romanini reiterated,"Its about giving [consumer] choice and range. What we mean in terms of choice, is that wedont lock a customer into a service and say, This is the way youre going to get your media.".Indeed, Nook Tablets shipped until December 2011 were lauded by reviewers and users forpermitting users to download and sideload third-party apps, but, one week beforeChristmas, B&N began pushing an automatic, over-the-air firmware update 1.4.1 to NookTablets that removed users ability to gain root access to the device and the ability to sideloadapps from sources other than the official Barnes and Noble app store (withoutmodding).Proponents of open source software deem that these restrictions on software installation and lackof administrator rights make this category one that, in their view, cannot be properly named"personal computers". Some newer tablet computers using mobile operating systemsdont use the walled garden concept, and are like personal computers in this regard