Many more people may find themselves using ink supplies to print documents directly from their iPad or other tablet PC in future, as the technology is set to have a significant impact on computing.

This is according to a report by Gartner, which predicted that over the next five to ten years, they will become used for many new applications and work as cross-platform controllers for a variety of home gadgets.

Research director at the firm Angela McIntyre said: "Tablets will be substitutes for several of the consumer electronics consumers often carry with them. Thin-and-light mobile PCs with tablet-like features will become mainstream."

She suggested devices such as the iPad are leading to a major change in the way people interact with computers, due to innovations such as touchscreen interfaces.

Ms McIntyre predicted the simple and intuitive nature of this will help people become active on the internet who had previously been put off by the barrier of the traditional keyboard and mouse arrangement.

Last week, chief scientist and technologist at JP Rangaswami told the Guardian's Tech Weekly podcast that he sees tablets leading to the death of the desktop PC within the next few years.