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Tablets 'threatening to overtake laptops' says analyst

More tablet displays than those of laptops shipped last month, hinting the notebook could be on the wane.

More tablet displays shipped last month than those of laptops, our sister site CNET News reports, hinting that the likes of the Nexus 7 and the iPad could be about to outsell the classic portable PC.

David Hsieh of NPD DisplaySearch described it as "a milestone for the global industry", noting that display shipments reflect demand and hence sales. "It can be seen that tablet PCs are threatening to overtake notebooks."

Hsieh puts it down to three factors. Firstly, the sluggish nature of the PC supply chain, with panel shipments dropping off by almost 4 million units from September to October. People will have held off buying a new laptop while they waited for Windows 8 to launch at the end of October, too. (Though not that many seem to have snapped it up.) And a whole host of tablets have launched in time for Christmas, with shops swelling their stocks.

This might just be a one-off. "October shipments could be a special case," wrote Hsieh. But tablets "have been the hottest" category for displays this year, according to him.

Indeed, the same analyst company predicted that in America, more tablets will ship than laptops in the last three months of the year.

The laptop isn't just under threat from tablets, however. According to RIM's boss Thorsten Heins, the BlackBerry will kill the laptop in three years. "Whenever you enter an office, you don't have your laptop with you, you have your mobile computer power exactly here," he told the New York Times, waving a BB10 handset. "You will not carry a laptop within three to five years," he added.

Bold words. But is Heins right? Are laptops set to go the way of the dodo? Mobile screens are getting bigger, so I'd say phones such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 (and rumoured HTC Deluxe) are just as big a threat to the humble laptop as the tablet is.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.