Not all that long ago, you couldn't imagine wanting a tablet computer. Your smartphone and laptop met all your computing requirements, or so you figured. And tablets were those awkward, stylus-driven computers that were pushed for years by Bill Gates at Microsoft, with very little to show for it.

Today, you're in crowded company if a tablet computer tops your holiday wish list.

Nearly 6 in 10 shoppers surveyed recently by the PriceGrabber price-comparison site said they'd rather receive a tablet computer than a laptop. And 71% said that tablets would replace e-readers as gifts this year.

Forrester Research analyst Sarah Rotman Epps forecasts that tablets will reach 112.5 million U.S. consumers — one-third of the U.S. adult population — by 2016. The market was practically non-existent as recently as early 2010.
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