So, what is a tablet?


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So, what is a tablet?

A dad and kids enjoying using their tablet together

What's coming up?

In this activity, we're going to learn the basics of tablet computers, including what they are, the parts of a tablet, and how to turn them on and off.

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What is a tablet?

Like a laptop computer, a tablet can run on batteries and is light and small enough to take almost anywhere.

Unlike a laptop, a tablet computer has no physical keyboard or touchpad. Instead, you control it by touching the screen with your fingers.

Like a laptop, a tablet comes with programs that let it do a range of things. Programs are also called applications, or apps, and you can add apps to a tablet to help it do more. Each app is represented by a picture on the screen called an icon.

A close up of a hand using the touchscreen on a tablet computer

What a tablet looks like

A tablet is usually less than two centimetres thick and has a large glass screen on one side, with a metal or plastic cover on the back. The computing brains of the tablet are in between the two.

A tablet is designed to be held in one hand and controlled by the other, or held with both hands if you're just looking at the screen and don't need to interact with anything.

Tablets come in different sizes, from a paperback size to a coffee-table book size. They are light enough to carry around easily, and you can even use one while you're on a train or in a car (but not when driving!).

A couple watching a video on their tablet
A touchscreen on a typical tablet computer

Parts of a tablet

Let's take a tour of a tablet.

The main part of the tablet is the touchscreen, which takes up most of the face of the tablet. The touchscreen shows you what's happening on the tablet, and lets you to control the tablet with your fingertips.

Buttons and sockets around the edge are used to turn the tablet on and off, to control the volume, and to charge the tablet's battery.

The location of a battery charge slot on a typical tablet computer
The location of the front and back cameras on a typical tablet computer

There will be a tiny camera just at the top of the screen. This is used for video chatting, which you can learn about in the Connecting to others topic on this website. A second camera on the back of the tablet is used for taking photos.

Like a laptop computer, a tablet has a battery inside. That means you can use a tablet when you're not connected to mains power. You can carry a tablet around with you, and use it for as long as the battery power lasts.

A battery symbol highlighted on a tablet computer
The location of the on and off button on a typical tablet computer

How to turn a tablet on and off

To turn a tablet on, you need to press the power button, which will be located on the side or top edge of the tablet. The power button may not be labelled like it would be on a desktop or laptop computer, so check the instructions that came with your tablet to see which button it is.

You might notice that the screen switches off if the tablet hasn't been used in a while. This is known as going to sleep and it does this to save battery power. You can wake the screen up again by tapping it.

To turn the tablet completely off, press the power button again.

All powered up

True or false?

A tablet needs to be connected to power to work?


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That's not right. Like a laptop computer, a tablet can run on its in-built batteries.


Click to flip


Correct. A tablet has a battery in it, so it doesn't need to stay plugged in.


You've completed the What is a tablet? activity.

In the activity you have learnt what a tablet does and what it looks like, plus how to turn a tablet on and off.

In the next activity, we'll look at How to charge a tablet.

A close up of a finger pressing the touchscreen of a tablet