An attendee examines an iPad Mini during an Apple Inc. launch event in San Jose, on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012. (Noah Berger/BLOOMBERG)

Tablet adoption is on the rise — nearly doubling in the past year alone. That’s put tablets in the hands of just over one in three Americans, according to a study from the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Last year, about 18 percent of American adults ages 18 and older owned a tablet. And just three years ago, the study noted, only 3 percent of Americans had opted for a tablet, which most used as an intermediate device between their smartphones and their computers.

The center, which recently reported that a majority of Americans owns a smartphone for the first time, said Monday that a majority of households earning at least $75,000 per year owns a tablet computer such as an iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Google Nexus or Kindle Fire.

The tablet market is still a fairly young one in the tech world. The market took off in 2010 with the introduction of the iPad and has continued to grow as competition from Android-based manufacturers such as Samsung and from Microsoft’s Windows 8 continues to mount. The tablet market is expected to begin outpacing the PC market this year, according to a projection by the IDC analysis firm.

Older, more wealthy users are the most likely to buy a tablet, said Pew research analyst Kathryn Zickuhr.

She said that in many ways tablet adoption follows the “common adoption pattern” of other technology, in which those with higher incomes and levels of education tend to pick up new technology first.

Smartphones, she noted, tend to buck that trend and differ from tablets and other technologies in that they appeal more to younger people — regardless of income.

“Younger adults say that they use the smartphone for most mobile browsing, that the phone is always with them,” she said.

Of the parents included in the Pew study, Zickuhr said, over half owned tablets, which dovetails nicely with a figure the center released in a study earlier this month showing that parents tend to read more e-books than non-parents.

The tablet study was based on interviews with 2,252 adults, 18 and older, and was conducted between April 17 and May 19.

A majority of all American adults own a smartphone, poll says

As smartphone market matures, makers race to wow consumers

Microsoft to cut Windows for tablet prices amid slump

Sign up today to receive #thecircuit, a daily roundup of the latest tech policy news from Washington and how it is shaping business, entertainment and science.