The all conquering tablet?

In the last week or so, I've been lucky enough to have a play with both the much talked about Apple iPad, and the equally powerful Dell Streak and I have to admit I want both of them. While each are different enough not to warrant a full comparison - the Streak has the ability to make and receive calls, while the iPad can only do so via VoIP - they do fall under the banner of tablet devices. Always good value for a pull-out quote, Apple supremo Steve Jobs this week told a Q&A session that the tablet will eventually kill the PC. With the iPad selling at an incredible rate of one every three seconds, the Dell Streak already generating a huge buzz and even HP are rumoured to be looking at bringing out a Palm tablet, Jobs' prediction packs some clout.

We've seen with the development of the smartphone that people want a powerful device everywhere they go, something a PC by its very nature is of course unable to do. However, might it be these aforementioned smartphones that will ultimately prevent Jobs' prophecy coming true or will we see them becoming more tablet like, a la the Dell Streak?

There's an argument that the lines between what makes a smartphone and what makes a tablet are becoming more and more blurred. For example, the likes of the HTC HD2 and Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 both feature huge screens (in terms of portable devices) and an excellent web browsing experience, all of which are essential for a tablet device to succeed. Though the Dell Streak has been categorised as a tablet, is it not essentially just a large smartphone - as our hands-on first impressions will tell you, it fit comfortably into our jeans pocket.

Without meaning to sound too cynical, perhaps it's a marketing strategy by the manufacturers. Both the iPad and the Dell Streak are available for around (if not exactly) the same price bracket of £429, a considerable fee compared to some smartphones, most of which are available for free on various contracts. A tablet has a certain more pizzazz than a mobile phone does and thus can seemingly warrant such a price hike.

I think this grey area of what constitutes a tablet or a smartphone will become even more cloudy, up to a point where the term "tablet" may become redundant due to an increase of mobile phones showcasing the same technology knowhow. So perhaps Steve Jobs is right in the sense that the PC could soon be something of a relic, but perhaps it will be the mobile phone that retires it, rather than the tablet.

Tell us what you think. What do you think are the key differences between a tablet and a smartphone? Would you carry both around with you? Could this really signal the decline of the PC?

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