Tablets have shifted from 'nice to have' to 'need to have' as the majority of under 45s now own these devices which are the go-to portable device for TV catch-up, YouTube and gaming says Kantar Media.

The analyst's latest futurePROOF report also found that more than half of 16-44-year-olds now having access to tablets, with the highest penetration among 35-44-year-olds where 58% of adults now have at least one tablet in their home. In all, 45% of all GB adults now have a tablet compared to 32% a year ago, and 36% at the end of 2013.

In terms of what tablets are being used, Apple was the market leader with 56% of tablet users having an iPad, down markedly from 63% in the last six months. Just over a third (37%) of users now have an Android-based tablet, up ten percentage points in six months, and 15% own Kindle Fire or Fire HD tablets.

Kantar believes that the shift towards Android devices is linked with their relative affordability compared with Apple's iPad. But on a general usage perspective, the analyst added that as consumers become more comfortable with tablets, they are gaining a clearly defined role in households with multiple devices. The survey found that tablets are more likely than smartphones to be used for watching or catching up on TV programmes or film, YouTube, or gaming; anything where a larger, better screen will enhance the experience.

"Tablets have rapidly become part of our digital lives, with Christmas sales and cheaper, Android-powered devices all contributing to make tablets a 'need to have' rather than just a 'nice to have'," explained Kantar Media custom director, Trevor Vagg. "The arrival of cheaper Android-based tablets such as Tesco's Hudl and the Kindle Fire has turned what was a premium device into something that's much more ubiquitous but also increasingly as personal as the smartphone we use when we are on the go. These shifts open new doors for advertisers in terms of targeted messaging opportunities."