73 million tablets sold in 2011, 300 PPI displays to catch on

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According to DisplaySearch, an arm of the analytics firm NPD, netbooks will fade away while tablets and laptops shall continue to gain mobile PC market share until 2017. Tablets, in particular, are expected to continue their rapid growth.

The firm's analysis of the "mobile PC" market does not include smartphones.

DisplaySearch estimates that 72.8 million tablets landed in consumers' hands last year. This number accounts for nearly a quarter of all mobile PCs shipped. Sales are expected to increase more than 250% in 2012 while, despite diminishing growth, will continue to remain strong for the next several years. By 2017, DisplaySearch predicts the yearly sales total for tablets will weigh in at 383.3 million units, representing nearly half of the mobile PC market.

 The report notes that slow growth in notebook PC sales will improve as prices drop, Windows 8 hits the shelves and targeted form factors (eg. Ultrabooks) gain popularity. Meanwhile, netbooks or "mini-notes" are expected to dissolve into the technology abyss.

Higher tablet demand is anticipated to be driven by the ever-increasing maturity of available tablets and their operating systems. Complaints of tablets being too slow are quickly becoming a thing of the past as the glass and plastic slabs sport multi-core CPUs, increased memory and continually refined software.

The firm's crystal ball also envisions high pixel density screens becoming commonplace this year, accounting for nearly a quarter of new tablets. These types of panels, such as Apple's "Retina" display in their iPhone 4 and 4S, cram more pixels into a screen which improves resolution and picture clarity. However, the cost for such displays increases greatly with size, traditionally making the technology cost prohibitive.

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