On Computers: Tabs may be the end of many electrical devices

Jim Hillibish

The next decade will be a watershed for tablet computers. They will be far more useful than today’s devices, which will look like Model T’s.

Tabs are in position to eliminate most of our electronic devices. Big plus for us: We’ll only need to buy one device.

A lot of companies are forming plans for the tabs of the future. Accessibility will be key. They must be handy, always.

In five years, cellphones will begin feeling the competition from tabs, just as PCs are seeing it now. You’ll phone in with your tab and video conference with others with live images on the screen.

If automakers cooperate, the navigation screens in vehicle dashboards will disappear. We’ll have a tablet that offers all the vehicle’s services, including monitoring engines and mechanicals. Then we will take it with us for other jobs when we exit the vehicle.

Control apps will be everywhere. Many households have a dozen or more remote controls, each operating a different device. All of these will be centralized on a tablet screen.

Tab apps will move far beyond the usual audio-visual remotes. You will control your security system, lighting and appliances on the tablet. It may be simple, such as turning on the washing machine from any room in the house, or as complex as managing efficient heating.

Tabs will replace our traditional cameras. New sensors will provide photos as good as expensive cameras. Photos take up a lot of storage space, but that’s no problem. Every tablet will be automatically linked to an off-site storage server accessed by the “cloud,” a wireless computer network.

All these features greatly increase a tab’s power needs. Batteries are being tested to catch up. One scheme uses silicone gel on lithium and offers up to 10 times the life of our present lithium-ion batteries.

Toshiba is working on a battery called SCiB that recharges to 90 percent capacity in five minutes. It lasts three to five times longer than the common lithium-ion.

Battery makers are hoping the future includes standardization. Currently, they must make hundreds of different batteries to fit devices. They view computer tablets as a chance to standardize on a single battery for all devices. Battery prices would fall, and the batteries could be more environmentally sensible.


Ronnie wants to know the “safest” way to clean a computer or cellphone touch screen.

Techs recommend a microfiber cloth slightly moistened with distilled water. Rub it lightly in small circles to remove dirt and smudges. Note: Never soak the screen, an electrical hazard. Turn it off before any cleaning.