Smart phones are okay, but they're a little small and fiddly for our massive, manly hands. These days we're all about tablets. They're bigger, better 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?
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.
The downside is that you'll be buying into Apple's rather specific 'way of doing things' -- every app in the App Store has to be approved by Apple itself, and the Californian company can be quite restrictive about what it lets you do with your phone. Apple will tell you this is to guarantee you the best user experience -- so nothing that's likely to break or slow down your device will be allowed. On the other hand, sometimes people prefer more freedom from their tablet.
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. If you want the full-size model, Apple's given its fourth-generation slate a processing boost to complement the delightful Retina display.
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, some of its better features have found their way into Ice Cream Sandwich -- a more recent version of the OS designed to run on both phones and tablets.
The latest version, known as Jelly Bean, first debuted on the Nexus 7 slate. Jelly Bean brings a bunch of extra features, most notably super-smooth page transitions and a piece of software called Google Now. The latter brings you live information on things like traffic or your sports team's scores, before you even need to search for them.
Recent updates also brought the ability to take full 360-degree panorama photos and stitch them together into a 'Photo Sphere'. With Nexus devices like the 7-inch Nexus 7 and the larger 10-inch Nexus 10, you'll be among the first to receive new software updates.
Android has its own (less restrictive) app store too, and 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 HD 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 with access to the multitude of books, music and videos through Amazon's various streaming service, it's an affordable option for media addicts. 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.
Microsoft's own Surface tablet hasn't been met with a great reception, but it's an attractive bit of kit and comes with both Windows RT (specifically for lighter-weight tablet components) and full-fat Windows 8.
The full version operates on burly laptop processors, so offers a lot 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. It can make holding it in one hand uncomfortable after a while. Smaller slates like the iPad mini or Google Nexus 7 are easier to hold and are more portable, but you won't have as much screen to enjoy films and apps on.
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.
Most new tablets tend to pack at least a dual-core processor, meaning it can split its power to do multiple tasks at once. Some even boast quad-core processors and multiple gigabytes of RAM, which promise even better performance.
Whether you need a quad-core processor is down to what you need 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.
Tablets like the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity and the Microsoft Surface come with keyboard docks, which make typing out long emails particularly easy. If you plan on doing a lot of work on a tablet, these hybrids might be worth a look -- although you can use Bluetooth keyboards with most tablets on the market.
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.
Additional writing by Luke Westaway.