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By Michelle Smith, Guest Blogger

Mobile device use makes up nearly 40% of all time spent online, a number that industry analysts predict could grow to more than 50% by next year.

And tablets make up an increasingly large portion of all mobile devices. The Pew Research Center reports that 35% of Americans aged 16+ own a tablet, and 43% own either a tablet or an e-reader. And thanks to new developments like fiber-optic Internet and image-sensor technology, tablet use isn’t slowing down: analysts project that tablet sales will overtake PC sales by the end of this year.

2013 is the year of the tablet. So – what’s coming up next?

Affordable options

Tablets used to be a luxury good, and the best ones available still cost upward of $500. Apple’s 128GB retina-display iPad with Wi-Fi and cellular data capability runs for a cool $929.

But expensive tablets are becoming a thing of the past. You’ll still get big-name tablets with all the bells and whistles.  But you’ll also have access to devices that are just as functional – and much more affordable. Last month at IDF 2013, Intel revealed more than 20 tablets that cost under $100.

Can a $100 tablet really compare to one that costs nearly ten times as much? That depends on who you’re asking. For hardcore tech aficionados, maybe not. But I’m willing to bet that consumers will be more than happy to invest in cheaper tablets.

Collapsible hardware

Bigger size is what sets tablets apart from smartphones and e-readers. Bigger screens with clearer definition are better for watching video, reading and surfing the Web – the most common activities for tablet users. But tablets’ bigger size also makes them less convenient. You can’t fit a tablet in the palm of your hand or slip one into your pocket.

But what if you could? Collapsible hardware would allow users to have the screen quality of a tablet with the convenience of a smartphone. And that might just be a reality before too long.

The only obstacle to folding tablets is their hardware – they involve a lot of inflexible parts, like processors, memory chips and batteries.  But continuing development in nanotechnology could lead to microscopic wires, flexible parts – and folding tablets. Innovation and Berner Labs have already shown a prototype of a tablet that folds like a piece of paper.

DIY mobile devices

You’re used to seeing tablets that are one smooth, sleek, solid piece of aluminum and glass. The average tablet user probably doesn’t know what’s inside – much less how to build one. But new developments in tablet technology could be heading toward a more do-it-yourself model.

Designer Kamil Izrailov has conceptualized Mobikom, a DIY tablet made up of a dozen or so mini-mobile components, for the blog DesignBuzz.

Each small square is like a touchscreen tablet of its own, with individual power supplies and computing processors. Users can lock squares together to make a Wi-Fi enabled mobile device of any size, from 22 mm x 44 mm to 1.5 m x 2 m – they can even make tablets and phones in unconventional shapes.

If you want a full-size tablet one day and a miniature smartphone the next – or you just really like puzzles – you’ll want this DIY device. And Mobikom could make that dream a reality.

Enter the phablet

With all the devices on the market, it’s not enough just to be a tablet. Or just a phone. Or just a laptop. The hottest new devices are hybrids.

No device is perfect. Laptops aren’t portable enough. Smartphones aren’t big enough. Tablet touchscreens aren’t functional enough.

Hybrids are the tech world’s attempt to answer some of these problems. 2013 has brought us the phablet – a mobile device that’s bigger than a smartphone, but smaller than a tablet. And manufacturers like Microsoft and Lenovo are coming out with laptop-tablet hybrids with removable screens and full-size keyboards.

Cloud browsing

The days of accessing the Internet on one device are long gone. Now, we get online on personal laptops, work computers, smartphones, tablets and more. And we want to be able to sync our online activity across all our devices.

With Maxthon Cloud Browser, that’s now real. You can surf on your tablet, and then switch to your laptop or your smartphone – all without missing a beat. Maxthon Cloud allows you to have a seamless online experience across all your devices, regardless of operating system or manufacturer.

Sync your user history, favorites and bookmarks across all your Internet-connected devices for unified browsing at home or on the go. Store downloads in the cloud so you can access them at any time, on any device.  Easily share content with friends through the cloud.

What tablet innovation are you looking forward to most?


Michelle Smith is a freelance writer with a focus on technology. She can be found typing away on her laptop in sunny Boca Raton, Florida. Michelle welcomes your feedback at