Computer tablets have come a long way in recent years. Not only are they faster and less expensive, the screens are more customizable, and the text is easier to read. There are plenty of things users can do with a tablet that would be pain to do on a laptop.

Mousing around 

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There are apps for everything, nowadays. One awesome, free app is Remote Mouse.  As long as target computer and tablet are on the same wireless network, the tablet can transform into a remote controller for the computer. Kim Komando says this is great for working with a presentation in a large room.

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While this might be a bit of a stretch for usefulness, the iDisplay app can turn a tablet into a second monitor. If the user is short on cash or just wants to experiment with the practicality of a second monitor, the $5 app might be worth it.

If a car owner doesn’t have vehicle with fancy navigation software built in or doesn’t want to pay hundreds of dollars to get the maps updated, a tablet app such as Waze can help. According to Komando, the app not only has navigation maps, it is continually updated by users with the latest traffic information.

So if the governor decides to close a bridge for snow, or there a huge traffic accident on the interstate, Waze users will know early and can find alternate routes. App users report battery usage can be greatly reduced by turning off the GPS when not driving. Another bit of cautionary advice is to use public location addresses such as that of a gas station or fire hall instead of actual home and work addresses for personal security and privacy. Waze is a social app.

Movies and games

Reading books, playing games or watching movies on a laptop is cumbersome when people are on the go or in a waiting room of any kind. A cellphone can be just a little bit too small, sometimes. Nook has a 7-inch tablet built by Samsung that won’t make users feel guilty about paying $5 to rent a movie. The screen is big enough to watch movies, read books and play games without hunching cover.

With decent-size memory expansion cards and fast, available Wi-Fi, it is possible to enjoy entertainment on a tablet beyond just reading newspapers on a train. Now that tablets are useful and practical, they are in mainstream use. That means prices have dropped. The Nook 7-inch tablet is only $150. That is less expensive than most laptops and cellphones. In the old days, users had to sign a two-year contract with a phone company to get a tablet. Jailbreaking is no longer necessary, and forget about contracts.

 

Keyboards and pens

Jillee at One Good Thing has a bunch of usual uses for a tablet that require some peripherals. Microsoft Office is free for mobile devices, but it’s hard to type a novel on a tablet screen. Thankfully, Bluetooth keyboards are inexpensive and small enough to fit in a small backpack.

Card readers can be expensive for small business owners and if they are just needed for a special event. There are free card readers available for tablets; just Google “free credit card reader” to find a bunch. Theoretically, this idea would work for a lemonade stand. Few people carry cash, nowadays.

With a stylus, tablet users can be creative artists with a whole bunch of drawing apps, Ashleigh Allsopp of Digital Arts reports. Forget about taking that huge paper sketch book to the museum, a tablet is much more convenient. Many drawing apps are free or at least have a trial period.

Fix selfies and save energy

Tablets come with really good cameras, and there is free and inexpensive photo editing software available, so selfies can look good without having to be downloaded to a PC to be run through Photoshop. Some of the apps are so good, it might be worth transferring photos taken with a separate digital camera to the tablet for editing. We’ve previously profiled a list of several photo editing apps, just forget about the Adobe Photoshop tablet app; it no longer is available. Blame it on the cloud.

Other uses for a tablet include using it as a second screen for a video camera and as a TV remote control. A tablet might even give competitive console gamers some advantages. Depending on how much a user wants to spend on automation devices, a tablet can be used to control a smart home. Joel Lee of Make Use Of has a list practical gadgets that might save consumers money in the long run.

Tablets may not replace cellphones. Watches might do that. But tablets definitely are on the way to replacing laptops, thanks to better batteries, faster Wi-Fi and cloud storage.

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