Datapads are small personal-tech devices for storing and sharing information, communicating electronically, and performing various other tasks typically undertaken by any being working in an administrative role.
A datapad is very much like a modern PDA (personal digital assistant), and most organizations use them instead of hardcopies for viewing and transferring documents, forms and other written or visual information. Datapads usually have some built-in memory storage for holding data, but their real power comes from their networkability: datapads are designed to interface with an organization's computer systems, which in turn connect to the wider regional computer network, giving a datapad user instant access to a huge array of information. Most datapads use a touchscreen interface, and are designed to be carried in a large pocket or clipped onto clothing.
Obviously, security on a datapad-enabled network is a major concern for every organization that uses them. Regular datapads are simply not given access to any information that is not publically available anyway, while sensitive-access datapads employ a variety of security methods. On starships, for example, it is common for the central computer to only allow access to datapads with known hardware IDs that are physically located on the ship; furthermore, datapads for crewmembers who need secure access usually employ both password authorization and biometrics to verify the identity of the user, which is further checked against the ship's internal sensors and personnel records.