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 tablets, 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 internal battery power and is light and small enough to take almost anywhere.

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

Tablets come 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 small picture on the screen called an icon.

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

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, and most are light enough to carry around easily.

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

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
The location of the front and back cameras on a typical tablet

There will be a tiny camera lens just at the top of the screen. This is used for video chatting, which you can learn about in our Connecting to others topic.

Another camera on the back of the tablet is used for taking photos.

Tablets come with a built-in battery

Like a laptop computer, a tablet has a rechargeable battery inside. This makes tablets very easy to use but, as with all devices that have internal batteries, the battery will eventually run down and need to be recharged.

We look at how to recharge a tablet in the next activity in this course.

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

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 marked like it would be on a 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 and hold the power button until it starts to shut down.

All powered up

True or false?

A tablet needs to be connected to power to work?


Click to flip


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


Click to flip


That's right! A tablet can run on it's in-built battery.


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

In the activity you have learned 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