Tablets will take an increasing share of the device market over the next few years, according to several new reports predicting that buyers are likely to choose a tablet in place of a laptop or netbook.
Following the launch of new tablet devices such as Viewsonic's ViewPad 10 and ViewPad 7, Juniper Research predicts that tablet shipments will reach 81 million a year by 2015, while more electronics and handset vendors are set to enter the market.
Meanwhile, research from consumer web site Kelkoo claims that 54 per cent of respondents would consider buying a tablet, with a third planning to do so in the next six months. According to the report, 35 per cent of those polled would choose a tablet in place of a laptop.
However, an earlier report from Gartner predicted that the majority of the impact from tablets will be from 7in devices on high-end smartphones, especially as the two devices are likely to be very similar in capabilities and usage model.
Gartner's predictions are even higher, with sales projected to total 54.8 million units during 2011.
In the enterprise space, the main use of tablets will be 10in devices used as a laptop companion or a second device to take on the road or for quick access to email, calendar and the web, according to Gartner.
But the majority of knowledge workers will not be able to replace their laptops with a tablet and, since they typically already have smartphones, a tablet would be a third device for which most organisations will be reluctant to pay.
Most of these reports neglect Windows-based tablets running Windows 7, and instead focus on devices using smartphone platforms such as Apple's iOS and Google's Android.
Kelkoo's survey found that 69 per cent of consumers would opt for Apple's iPad, with Samsung's Galaxy Tab and RIM's PlayBook the runners up, despite neither of these actually being available yet.
Juniper Research also expects Apple to dominate tablet sales.
"Competition for Apple is likely to arrive in earnest in 2011, though by then Apple is likely to be ready to launch a new version of the iPad, reinforcing its market position," said senior Juniper analyst Anthony Cox.
When it comes to screen size, most users prefer the iPad's 10in display to smaller form factors such as 7in, according to Kelkoo.
However, 35 per cent of those users who would prefer a Samsung Galaxy Tab to an iPad, said it was because of the smaller form factor, so buyers are still divided over the size issue.
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