Tablet computers are great for reading magazines and watching movies on trains, but what else is a tablet computer good for? Here are 15 ways to put a tablet to work in your business.

1. Can I take your order?

Restaurants are speeding up service and saving money on staff by using tablet computers to let diners order their own meal.

2. Sign here please

Whilst taking payments on the go is something you can already do with a smartphone, using a tablet allows the customer to sign for their payment on screen and lets you immediately send them a receipt, making the process a little more seamless.

3. How do you spell that?

Gone are the days of trying to decipher handwriting or make best guesses on customer feedback forms. Hand your customer the form loaded on your tablet and have it saved straight to your database. No muss, no fuss.

4. Double vision

Hook your tablet up to your laptop or PC and use it as a second screen.

5. Learn to share

Tablets are much easier to pass round in meetings than laptops, meaning you can share ideas, documents and mock-ups without having to create a whole presentation or print off reams of paper.

6. Annotate freely

Making comments, highlighting sections and generally interacting with PDFs is more intuitive and much simpler than on any other device and more versatile than paper.

7. Keep stock

A tablet is a great way to track inventory: you can scan bar codes and take pictures on site in your warehouse and update your spreadsheets instantly with programs like Inventory Tracker.

8. Everything in its place

Optimise your productivity by shifting all those distracting tasks and apps (email, Twitter, Skype) to your tablet. Then keep your desktop distraction free, and limit your tablet time to, say, ten minutes every hour.

9. A flat catalogue

A tablet is great for consuming media: so let your customers do just that. Make your catalogue media rich and let customers click on videos or zoom in on pictures, and save some trees while you’re at it.

10. Master manual

Keeping track of instruction manuals is a nightmare, and many are only online now. Use your tablet to download and store all your manuals in one place, and access them on a device you can actually use when stuck down the back of the photocopier!

11. Handy how-to

Following instructions like recipes, printing tips or even how-to fix your desktop on a tablet makes all those online resources that much more accessible. (If it’s a messy job simply put your tablet in a Ziploc bag, or if you’re feeling fancy, buy a case.)

12. Instant estimate

Use an online invoicing service, and draw up estimates, bills and receipts on site with your customers using your tablet.

13. Go on the road

Tablets are often lighter and have a longer battery life than laptops, and you can still check emails, sort out your HR admin, access documents and go online, meaning you can spend more time with customers and less time chained to your desk.

14. Put your business on the road

For those in the service industries, some are trying out tablets as a way to communicate route information and updates, and receive notifications about repairs or problems.

15. Pass it on

This article explains about a trial that was conducted, giving Ethiopian children, with no experience of computer technology, tablets loaded with educational apps, to see if it could them learn. The results were very promising, if not a little surprising.