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Tablets vs Laptops

Updated on October 10, 2014
Above image was created using Public Domain images from Pixabay
Above image was created using Public Domain images from Pixabay | Source

Difference Between Tablets and Laptops

Tablets have been around for a while now, however it's only since 2010 that they have become mainstream and affordable. With such rapid advancements in technology in the computing world with the latest laptops, introduction of tablets, and now ultrabooks, it is becoming a challenge to keep up.

With all these computing devices in the market, the consumer is left wondering with questions like what is the difference between laptops and tablets? What are Ultrabooks? Which computing device should I buy? Do tablets replace laptops? Do I need both these devices? Should I wait or is this a good time to buy a tablet?

On this web page, you will find information on laptops, tablets and ultrabooks that will help answer the questions above in order to help you make informed decisions for your next purchase of a laptop, tablet, or ultrabook.

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Pros and Cons: Tablets vs Laptops

Laptops and Tablets are both portable devices and have many similar features, however, the two devices have a few differences when you compare them closely.

Laptops are generally larger in size and bulkier, so they weigh more than tablet PCs. They have more memory storage in terms of the hard-drive as well as RAM compared to tablets. Laptops have a traditional keyboard and a touch-pad for navigation which is more convenient when using over extended periods. Laptop screens are larger and the display resolution is better when compared to tablets.

Tablets, on the other hand, are much more portable compared to traditional laptops because they are smaller in size and much slimmer. Tablets have touch screens and use a virtual keyboard for input. Their operating systems are less power intensive and therefore, the start-up time is faster. Also, tablet PCs have far better battery life (on average 8 to 10 hours) compared to laptop computers.

As technology advances, laptops are becoming slimmer, lighter and faster. Welcome to the world of Ultrabooks which were introduced in January 2012 during the CES (Consumer Electronics Show). When deciding which one to buy, laptop vs tablet, you have to first determine your needs. Ultimately, laptops are better for more intensive work, but less portable compared to tablets.

The video below provides an overview of the differences between laptops & tablets.

Video: Pros and Cons of Tablets vs Laptops

Tablet Computer
Tablet Computer | Source

How to Choose a Tablet PC?

In this section, we will cover the topic on How to Choose a Tablet PC. As mentioned earlier, tablets are meant for less intensive computing work that doesn't require much use of a traditional keyboard.

They are more appropriate for media consumption like watching videos, surfing the internet, using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, video chatting, playing video games, listening to music, and so on.

Since Apple launched its iPad in 2010, and subsequently newer models of the iPad, tablets have flooded the market. Competitors like Asus, Samsung, Motorola, HP, Toshiba, RIM, Amazon and others have introduced their own. We will continue to see many more of these mobile devices launched in 2013 and 2014.

Laptops & Tablets for Dummies

Guidelines on How to Choose the Right Tablet PC

Given that there are so many different types of tablets with a variety of specification and features, it's become a challenge for the consumer to decide which one is the right one for their needs. Below are some guidelines that you can use to determine which tablet PC is right for you:

Operating System: in tablets have been designed to provide a fast browsing experience as well as smooth multi-tasking of applications.

Different ones come with different operating systems. For example, the new iPad has the iOS 5 operating system, Android tablets come with Google's Linux-based operating systems, and RIM's Playbook has the QNX Netrino OS, exclusive to Blackberry devices. Android operating systems are known to have better multi-tasking capability, whereas, Apple's operating systems are known to have cool apps. It's really a matter of preference.

Processors: in tablets are like the brain of the device and the clock-rate determines the speed and performance of the device. Apple uses the A5X processor, whereas most of the Android tablets use Tegra processors from Nvidia. Most of the their processors are 1 GHz or more, which determines the speed of the processor.

Memory & Storage: in tablets vary from model to model. Most of them have a range of hard-drive storage options starting from 8 GB to 64 GB. And in terms of RAM, most of the tablets come with 1 GB of RAM, with the exception of the iPad 2 and Amazon Kindle Fire which have 512 MB. Some of them also come with SD card slots that allow you to increase storage space, as well as through Cloud storage.

Display & Screen Resolution: tablets have touch screens which help you navigate through application and websites. Different models have varying screen resolutions which determine the picture quality as well as video playback. The current new iPad has the best screen resolution, so far, of 2048 x 1536 pixels.

Size & Weight: given that tablets are more of a portable device, you will have to determine whether a smaller 7 inch screen or a 10 inch screen is more suitable for you. If you are going to watch more of video, you probably want to get a bigger screen. Obviously, smaller screens are much more portable and easier to carry around.

Cameras: in most of the top tablets, have front and back cameras, which can be used to take pictures, capture video and video chat. Most people I know use the camera for video chatting rather than taking pictures. The resolution of the cameras vary from model to model so you'd have to take that into account depending on what you are going to use your tablet for.

Battery Life: in tablets are generally pretty good, ranging from 7 to 10 hours on average. However, how long the battery charge lasts will depend on usage, especially video content, as well as usage of Wi-Fi and 3G / 4G for internet connectivity.

USB / HDMI / SD-Slot Ports: can be useful if you want to connect external devices to your tablet like headphones, connecting to a TV, external hard-drive, external keyboard, or if you want to expand your memory with an SD card. Some tablets have USB / HDMI support on the device, others have it on the dock connector.

Apps Availability: there are two main choices, the Apple App store (iOS) vs the Android Apps (Google Play). The Apple App Store is exclusive to Apple devices, whereas Google Play is for the Android devices. The Apple App Store has been around longer and has a greater number of apps.

One important aspect of the apps market is that Apple screens apps before they are approved, whereas the Android apps are open to the market and therefore prone to malware and security issues through rogue apps. However, you can install security apps to protect your tablet.

Wireless Wi-Fi / 3G / 4G LTE Connectivity: all tablets come with wireless Wi-Fi connectivity which means that you can connect to the internet via a Wi-Fi network at home or outside like coffee shops. However, if you need to access the internet on the go, you will need to opt for the 3G or 4G options which are more expensive. You will also require a data plan from your wireless company.

Price Comparison: last, but not least, is the factor of affordability. Average prices of tablets range from $199 to $999, depending on the size, memory storage and wireless connectivity. Therefore, based on the specification and features you need, compare the prices and make your decision.

The video featured below reviews various factors and specifications that you need to consider when buying a laptop or tablet.

Video on How to Choose a Tablet PC

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    • PaigSr profile image

      PaigSr 3 years ago from State of Confussion

      I tend to stick with the laptop. For me I prefer Dell as they are the kind I tend to use at work. I have finally branched out though and actually got an HP. First one and still deciding. The boys seam to like it. Also my dad got his first computer and it is also an HP. Again all laptops.

    • squidoopets profile image

      Darcie French 4 years ago from Abbotsford, BC

      Sometime this year I'll be in the market for a tablet, so I am leisurely reading reviews. I currently work from home on a PC. I'd like to be more mobile, for instance, I'd love to be able to squidoo while I am on an exercise machine at the gym (vs read the available celebrity mags :D). The laptop is too heavy too lug around.

    • TACTCI LM profile image

      TACTCI LM 4 years ago

      Both, it all depends on whether I need to type or not, mostly.

    • Board-Game-Brooke profile image

      C A Chancellor 4 years ago from US/TN

      There are benefits to each. I love the size and portability of the tablets but the small screen size can make it harder to navigate and select items on-screen -- and it's harder to type without a real keyboard. So I bought a laptop instead. But I do envy the tablet owners when I'm lugging around my laptop bag. :-)

    • profile image

      jonnyquarts 4 years ago

      I have both several tablets and a laptop and I can say each has their own purposes

    • ajgodinho profile image
      Author

      Anthony Godinho 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @TransplantedSoul: Yeah I agree, actually it's already happening as is evident with some of the Ultrabooks.

    • TransplantedSoul profile image

      TransplantedSoul 5 years ago

      We will surely see these technologies merge over time.

    • profile image

      wecomparebooks 5 years ago

      I prefer a PC!

    • ajgodinho profile image
      Author

      Anthony Godinho 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @JackieBlock: Makes sense that you would delay the purchase of your tablet until later, especially if you're not going to use it. With so much competition, we will continue to see better tablets, at lower prices. I'm actually liking the new ultrabooks. Your feedback is much appreciated!

    • ajgodinho profile image
      Author

      Anthony Godinho 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @Redneck Lady Luck: LOL, thanks my dear...always great to see you around. Wishing you a wonderful Spring and Summer! :)

    • JackieBlock profile image

      Jackie Block 5 years ago from SE Michigan

      I am avoiding a tablet purchase until my kiddos are older. I already carry so much stuff around, that for now I will use my iPhone for when I'm out and about. For home I love my laptop.

    • ajgodinho profile image
      Author

      Anthony Godinho 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @anonymous: Thanks for your feedback, Susie on tablets vs laptops. I'm like you as well, I prefer laptops for the work that I do, but enjoy the convenience and portability of tablets. I got an iPad for one of my nieces and she loves it. With so much competition, we will continue seeing better tablets and a drop in prices as well.

    • Tamara14 profile image

      Tamara Kajari 5 years ago from Zagreb, Croatia, Europe

      As weird as this may sound I hate touch screen feature so this would be a big enough reason not to consider a tablet at all :) In addition to that I use computer mostly for writing so keyboard is a must and screen is bigger too. Great lens!

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      I realize that tablets and laptops really do not have much to do with the initiating in of April, but I have been meaning to stop by and say hi, so a very happy April Fools day my friend. Have a wonderful April.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I've had and use a laptop but have never tried a tablet but think for my needs a laptop is the better choice at this time for me. I can sure see why tablets are becoming so popular with all their features, small size for portability, connectivity and the price is nice. Another excellent comparison aj, I sure learned a few things, thank you! I work from home all the time so a PC and laptop meet all my needs but I'm dreaming Apple one day.

    • ajgodinho profile image
      Author

      Anthony Godinho 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @Tamara14: I appreciate your thoughts on this topic. I can understand why you are not too keen on touch screens. It's important to have one that is responsive and doesn't smudge too much. They are getting much better though. Having said so, for the work that you do, a laptop would be best suited...maybe an ultrabook, if you want more portability.

    • ajgodinho profile image
      Author

      Anthony Godinho 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @JanieceTobey: Thanks for your feedback using a laptop and tablet. I think you've making the best of both worlds! :)

    • JanieceTobey profile image

      JanieceTobey 5 years ago

      Excellent tips on selecting a tablet! To answer your question: I have a laptop and enjoy it a lot. I like having a larger screen and keyboard. My son really loves his 7 inch tablet though. It's very easy for him to take it places! He even uses it as a phone! (And doesn't have to pay for the phone service either!)