What’s on your technology shopping list for this year? If you are like many other U.S. small businesses, of which there are eight million, tablets are at the top your list.  That’s because a recent report from IT research firm IDC indicates that notebooks and media tablets, among other PC form factors, are a top purchase priority.

That’s not surprising considering that a recent survey of 1100 small business owners by The Small Business Authority indicated that 28 percent of you are using tablets for business applications compared to 19 percent who are using laptops and 17 percent desktops. Down the road, 55 percent of survey respondents indicated they plan to use a tablet.

Among top applications in which tablets are becoming more and more popular, Gartner notes that sales automation systems for customer collateral, sales presentation and ordering systems; business intelligence; corporate messaging versus personal email; collaboration applications for meetings; and file utilities for sharing and document distribution are key.

Still don’t rule out laptops just yet. While 45 percent of business owners say that their next technology purchase will be a tablet, laptops come in at a close second at 41 percent.

Packaged software is the next area where you are planning to invest – as much as $50 billion. That figure equates to more than one third of total projected spending by small businesses on all information technology.

The good news is that overall projected spending on information technology purchases will continue to make up the ground lost during the economic downturn of the past five years. In fact, IDC says that U.S. small business information technology purchases will equal approximately one fourth of overall global small business information technology spending and more than 10 percent of all IT spending worldwide.