Created By: zarpaulus on April 28, 2012 Last Edited By: zarpaulus on January 13, 2013
Troped

Data Pad

Tablet computers in science-fiction

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Trope
In many science-fiction works, even those pre-dating the iPad by decades, the most common form of portable computer is a flat, rectangular slab held in one hand and operated with the other. Usually called a Data Pad or some similar name.

Examples:

Comic Books
  • The omnicoms of the Legion of Super-Heroes comics are generally depicted as something midway between a smartphone and a tablet computer in size, with a keypad and screen. The ones the Legion uses have quite a few additional functions built in, such as environmental scanning capabilities.

Film

Literature
  • The Mote in God's Eye. The Imperial humans have pocket computers that can operate on their own as well as connecting with other computers. They can write on the computers with a stylus, like the Star Trek: The Original Series example.
  • The Culture novel Excession mentions some Culture citizens using devices of this nature called Tablets- iirc, the idea is that generally Culture citizens have something in their head called a neural lace, through which they can do everything, but more "off-the-grid" people won't have a lace and will just have one of these.
  • In Rainbows End, these are mostly considered obsolete, though they are still available for people who, for whatever reason, don't want or aren't ready for full-on wearables. Robert Gu starts with one of these after his Alzheimer's is cured, to try to ease his way into the modern world. It's actually so thin and flexible that it can be folded up like a piece of paper.

Live-Action Television
  • Star Trek has PADDs.
    • Star Trek: The Original Series featured the PADD's 23rd Century predecessor, a device usually referred to as the "electronic clipboard," usually given to Kirk by a Yeoman to sign with some sort of stylus, then handed back to the Yeoman. The PADD wouldn't be formally introduced until the 24th Century.
  • Averted pretty hard in Battlestar Galactica, which used laptops until a tablet computer (of a size and shape similar to an early 21st Century model) appeared in the 4th Season aboard the Demetrius. Usually the crew just passes around information on pieces of paper.
    • Caprica replaces these with digital computer paper. In the pilot, Zoe even uses a piece of digital paper to send a text message.
  • "Globals" in Earth: Final Conflict were exactly like Real Life smartphones... years before smart phones first appeared on the market. They were handheld digital computers combined with cutting edge cell phone technology.
  • Andromeda had flexis -datapads that looked like sheets of paper.
  • A deleted scene from the Firefly pilot "Serenity" showed Simon using a tablet computer to look up the name of the ship. It was evidently voice-activated.
  • In the TV version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy the Guide looks something like an Amazon Kindle - kind of a dedicated tablet computer which can only access the Guide.
    • The novel's version looks more like a large calculator with a hundred buttons and a four-inch square screen. Evidently pre-dating the touchscreen.
    • The Film version of the book appears to be a book with a folding screen instead of pages.

Tabletop Games

Video Games

Web Comics
  • Freefall has ubiquitous data pads that connect to the global comnet. On the rare occasion that people absolutely need something resembling paper they print out a sheet of plastic.
  • The Cyantian Chronicles "plates" are standard Cyantian tech. Used for everything from schoolwork to indexing subspace inventories to playing games.
  • Jix compared the iPad to her own species' tablets once. She wasn't particularly impressed.
Community Feedback Replies: 20
  • April 28, 2012
    randomsurfer
    The ones from Star Trek are actually called "PADDs" (with two d's), short for Personal Access Display Device.
  • April 29, 2012
    Koveras
  • April 29, 2012
    fulltimeD
    Live Action Television

    • Star Trek The Original Series featured the PADD's 23rd Century predecessor, a device usually referred to as the "electronic clipboard," usually given to Kirk by a Yeoman to sign with some sort of stylus, then handed back to the Yeoman. The PADD wouldn't be formally introduced until the 24th Century.

    • Averted pretty hard in Battlestar Galactica, which used laptops until a tablet computer (of a size and shape similar to an early 21st Century model) appeared in the 4th Season aboard the Demetrius. Usually the crew just passes around information on pieces of paper.

    • Caprica replaces these with digital computer paper. In the pilot, Zoe even uses a piece of digital paper to send a text message.
  • April 29, 2012
    fulltimeD
    Live Action Television

    • "Globals" in Earth Final Conflict were exactly like Real Life smartphones... years before smart phones first appeared on the market. They were handheld digital computers combined with cutting edge cell phone technology.

    Film

  • April 29, 2012
    zarpaulus
    Examples added and fleshed out some of the ones I already had.
  • May 1, 2012
    zarpaulus
    Bump
  • May 2, 2012
    JoieDeCombat
    The omnicoms of the Legion Of Super-Heroes comics are generally depicted as something midway between a smartphone and a tablet computer in size, with a keypad and screen. The ones the Legion uses have quite a few additional functions built in, such as environmental scanning capabilities.
  • May 10, 2012
    fulltimeD
    bump
  • January 5, 2013
    Hodor
    I need to double check, but iirc The Culture novel Excession mentions some Culture citizens using devices of this nature called Tablets- iirc, the idea is that generally Culture citizens have something in their head called a neural lace, through which they can do everything, but more "off-the-grid" people won't have a lace and will just have one of these.
  • January 5, 2013
    StarSword
  • January 6, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In the TV version of The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy the Guide looks something like an Amazon Kindle - kind of a dedicated tablet computer which can only access the Guide.
  • January 6, 2013
    Arivne
    Literature
  • January 6, 2013
    wotnoplot
    Given that the Guide was carried round in all versions of HHGG it can be assumed that all versions are tablets.
  • January 6, 2013
    StarSword
    ^Certainly it was a tablet in the movie.

    TV:
    • A deleted scene from the Firefly pilot "Serenity" showed Simon using a tablet computer to look up the name of the ship. It was evidently voice-activated.
  • January 6, 2013
    zarpaulus
    The book and radio version of the Guide was described as looking like a largish calculator with a hundred buttons and a four-inch square screen. Evidently written before touch-screens. Not really sure if that would count as a tablet.
  • January 6, 2013
    Omeganian
    Andromeda had [[http://andromeda.wikia.com/wiki/Flexi flexis -datapads that looked like sheets of paper.
  • January 6, 2013
    JonnyB
    Avatar had transparent data pads they could drag info onto from their computer screens.
  • January 8, 2013
    zarpaulus
    That all? I'm pretty sure there were more examples.
  • January 11, 2013
    zarpaulus
    Bump
  • January 11, 2013
    Xtifr
    • In Rainbows End, these are mostly considered obsolete, though they are still available for people who, for whatever reason, don't want or aren't ready for full-on wearables. Robert Gu starts with one of these after his Alzheimer's is cured, to try to ease his way into the modern world. It's actually so thin and flexible that it can be folded up like a piece of paper.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=42z84jnnxzdkc452tu4fhttj&trope=DataPad