January 29, 2013
In a world where portable computer technology was, until quite recently, a monopoly held largely by laptops, the appearance of tablets on the market has had a noticeable impact. If you’re in the market for a new computer and aren’t sure which product is right for you, making the decision can be downright difficult. After all, both laptops and tablets come with their own respective sets of pros and cons, appealing attributes and off-putting specs.
Why Do You Need a New Device?
One of the first things you should ask yourself when you’re trying to choose between a new tablet and a new laptop is what you need the device to do. If you’re looking for something you can curl up with on the couch to play games or read eBooks, a tablet will almost certainly be more than powerful enough to suit your needs. Running larger and more powerful programs will often require a laptop, however, as mobile technology hasn’t quite progressed to a point that will allow tablets to compete with new laptops in terms of capability and strength.
How Much Space Do You Need?
Though most tablets do have slots for SD cards to expand the memory, the device itself will have far less available memory than a laptop. Depending upon the specs of your chosen tablet brand, in fact, most of the available memory may even be taken up by the operating system itself. If you’re not interested in keeping up with small SD cards and need a significant amount of memory, a tablet may not be the ideal choice. If you’re not planning to store large files or run big programs, however, a laptop’s memory and capabilities may be overkill.
How Portable Does Your Portable Technology Need to Be?
A laptop can run larger programs and store exponentially higher numbers of files than its tablet brethren, but it’s only portable in the sense that it’s smaller than a desktop computer. Laptops can still be quite heavy and clunky, typically requiring an entire bag to carry the device, chargers and other accessories. If you need something truly portable with a bit less power, a tablet may be a better fit for you than a laptop.
Typing Versus Touching
There are keyboard accessories available if you find that you don’t care for tapping out letters on the screen of your tablet, but they almost always have to be purchased separately and are generally a bit smaller than those found on a laptop. If you’ll be using your new device to enter large amounts of text and aren’t wild about the idea of purchasing extra accessories or being forced to keep up with several components, you may be happier with a laptop purchase. Users who don’t foresee the need to do much typing or don’t mind using a touch screen keyboard, however, may find that a tablet more than meets their expectations.
Is Durability an Issue?
While you shouldn’t play a game of Frisbee with either device, laptops do tend to be more durable than tablets. A cracked or shattered tablet screen will almost certainly render it useless, while a laptop’s screen is naturally protected when the device is closed. If you’re looking for something that can weather a few knocks without being destroyed, a tablet probably shouldn’t be your first choice. Keep in mind, however, that there are protective cases and sleeves designed to prevent damage to your tablet when it’s in a bag or purse.
Up-Front Expenses Versus Long-Term Costs
If you’re on a relatively tight budget, you’ll want to consider the financial implications of both devices. A laptop with a wireless card will effortlessly connect to any existing wireless network in your home, while some tablets require a special data package from a mobile Internet service provider to work in areas without WiFi coverage. Tablet devices are generally cheaper in terms of up-front investments, but laptop devices don’t typically require any extra monthly costs outside of your existing Internet package.
Tablet devices usually have as much as eight hours of continuous battery life, while a laptop’s battery life can be significantly shorter. If the length of your battery life is a concern that will affect your perception of your new device’s functionality, a tablet will almost always last longer between charges than a laptop.
In the end, making the right decision will require you to carefully consider both your needs and what you expect your new device to accomplish. Tablets and laptops each have their own areas in which they excel above the other, so it’s best to weigh your needs against each option’s features in order to choose the one that will work best for you.