Smart phones are okay, but they're a little small and fiddly for our massive hands. These days we're all about tablets. They're bigger and make us feel like we're in Star Trek. But with so many new slates appearing all over the place, what should you be looking out for when you hit the high street?
iOS or Android?
Apple's iPad was the first tablet to really make it big, thanks in part to its iOS software platform, which started life on the iPhone. This is the iconic grid layout that lets you browse through several screens of apps, tapping each one to fire it up. It's incredibly simple and smooth, and best of all, it features seamless integration with iTunes and the Apple App Store, so buying and downloading music, movies, games and so on is ridiculously easy.
Apple is known to be very restrictive about what apps make it to the iOS app store shelves, but Apple argues that this is to ensure quality and to keep out troublesome apps. Indeed, the quality of apps -- particularly tablet-specific apps -- is much higher in iOS than in the Android store and iOS has fewer troubles with malware.
The iPad mini brings the functionality that made the 10-inch model so popular but wraps it up in a smaller, 8-inch screen. It makes it much easier to wrap your hands around and hold up for long periods.
Android is Google's mobile operating system, and it gets better with every new iteration. The first tablet-specific version of Android was known as Honeycomb and although it never really made an impact on the market, it's come a long way and the current most widely-available version, Jelly Bean, has a much smoother, easy to use interface.
Android devices tend to let you do more with your tablet. You can play with all sorts of weird video formats, there's true multi-tasking and you can fill your homescreen with glorious live widgets that give you all kinds of information without you needing to fire up the app.
Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX is based on the Android operating system, but it's wildly different from any Android device you may have used. It's simple to operate though and has access to the multitude of books, music and videos through Amazon's various streaming services. Bear in mind though that you don't have full access to the hundreds of thousands of apps in the Google Play store.
Microsoft's latest operating system Windows 8 has chucked out the old classic desktop and Start menu, replacing it with large, colourful tiles. With a host of gestures for navigation too, it's natural home is undoubtedly on touchscreen devices.
The tablet-specific version, Windows RT, hasn't been met with much praise as it can't run normal desktop software. Instead, you can only buy apps from the Windows app store, which is still quite poorly stocked. You'll find the essential social networking tools though and there are a few gems to try out too.
The full version operates on burly laptop processors, so offers much more power, as well as the ability to use regular desktop software like Adobe Photoshop. If you want a tablet that will let you get on with serious work when you need to, Windows 8 might be the way to go.
The first question you'll want to ask yourself is "what size tablet do I need?" While the iPad is certainly popular, some find its 10-inch display too bulky. Although the slim iPad Air is more comfortable to hold than its predecessor, smaller slates like the iPad mini or Google's Nexus 7 are easier to hold and more portable. You won't have as much screen to enjoy films and apps on though.
When buying, be sure to check out the processor -- a faster chip is often an indicator of a really snappy tablet. The last thing you want in your spangly new device is to feel like menus move sluggishly, or for everything to stop for a few moments every time you fire up an app.
New tablets tend to pack quad-core processors -- or at the very least a nippy dual-core chip -- meaning it can split its power to do multiple tasks at once.
The amount of power you need is down to what you want a tablet for. If you just do a spot of Web browsing on the sofa, a lower-powered chip will be fine. If you like playing the latest games and editing photos, you'll want to look at the more powerful end of the spectrum.
While many tablets pack a camera, it's not something you need to obsess over -- after all, do you really plan on taking out a big slate to take pictures? Most cameras found on tablets are there to take a quick snap to share to Facebook or Twitter. All of the recent ones pack front-facing cameras, which are very handy for making video calls over FaceTime, Skype or Google Hangouts.
Now you're primed in the mystical art of tablet choosing, why not browse through some of the best options below. Be sure to check out the full tablet reviews section to see what other slates are available.