A panel PC is a touch-sensitive monitor attached to a computer — The Angry Scotsman reviewed a panel PC from PCSpecialist a few months back here at LockerGnome. The main difference between a panel PC and a tablet computer is that the panel PC has all the power that you would expect from a regular PC, and can run a regular PC operating system like Windows 7 or Windows 8 on it. So a simple definition of a panel PC would be: “a large form factor tablet computer with the power of a typical computer.”
A tablet computer is, like I mentioned above, a small form factor panel PC. The tablet computer will typically run a mobile operating system like Android, iOS, or a smaller approximation of Windows. The tablet’s other difference from the panel PC is that the it will not be powerful enough to run regular computer applications. However, the tablet computer can run tablet optimized applications that will still allow the user to complete panel PC tasks.
There is a point of contention here because some would argue that the Microsoft Surface Pro is a panel PC, while the Microsoft Surface with Windows RT is a tablet computer. The power and the performance of the RT compared to the Pro are the main differences.
I can see the panel PC and tablet computer market merging at some point, but at the moment the gap between PC — panel or otherwise — and tablet is just too big to jump confidently. However, the Apple iMac could potentially be called a panel PC — if Apple added a touch screen to the iMac — because of how thin the device is. The other sticking point between PC and tablet is that many users who value portability will balk at carrying around a 27 inch display with them everywhere.
No matter how fantastic the screen of a panel PC looks, I don’t honestly see the majority of users carrying around a screen with them that’s larger than 10 inches.
So panel PC versus a touch screen tablet: which one wins? That all depends on your needs and priorities.
Which would you rather have: a powerful, but less portable 27″ panel PC on which you can play Minecraft, Call of Duty, and other games, or an easily mobile tablet on which you take — what some would consider a minor — hit for speed and performance? I’d go with a tablet every time, but then again, I’m not a gamer.
What say you? Leave a comment and let us know!