The lowdown on tablet PCs

What is it? Tablet PCs are rather loosely defined but they can be generally considered as notebook PCs where the emphasis is on the screen rather than the keyboard.

Slates are fully functional computers without an attached keyboard, although they normally come with an optional USB keyboard. Convertibles are bulkier and often heavier because they have an attached'but often detachable'keyboard and are really just a notebook in a different form factor with the addition of a touch screen. Either way, it will liberate you from the mouse.

Why do I need it? If you can't type well, or need to walk, talk, take notes and perhaps check data all at the same time, you need a tablet. A tablet PC is also useful if you create fine line drawings or even color sketches; annotate documents or spreadsheets, or aren't comfortable using a touch pad or mouse ball. And if you're a lefty, rejoice'a Tablet doesn't care. But be certain to select your preference so pop-up menus appear in the best spot.

Must-know info? Tablet PCs are essentially notebook computers with a touch screen and are a good choice for users who don't do a lot of word processing or data entry out of the office. Even that shortcoming is eliminated if you get good results from speech recognition.

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