Sunday, December 15, 2013

Tablet vs. Laptop: Which device is for you?

Things were much simpler when a mobile was a portable telephone, and a computer was simply a computer. The advent of smartphones in 2007 blurred the lines of functionality between phones and computers, but when tablets were added into the mix the lines quickly faded away.

Tablets, simply put, are mobiles with a bigger screen. The most popular is unarguably the Apple's iPad, followed by the Samsung's Galaxy Tab and Asus's Nexus 7 & 10*. When the iPad was first announced, I thought it would never catch on considering Microsoft's failed attempt with the Microsoft Tablet PC a couple of years before, and because I couldn't imagine needing it, when I had a smartphone with exactly the same operating system and a portable laptop. But times have changed, and society demands that having an tablet in your house is as necessary as a TV.

If you're on a budget (say $500?), you can afford both a laptop and a tablet from a good manufacturer. But by sacrificing a tablet, you can shell out more money on a laptop and get faster RAM, a bigger screen and higher processing power. But if you can afford both, then go for it as both have their own uses and practicality.

In this article, I weigh the pros and cons of Tablets and Laptops in different situations. Depending on your needs you can get a pretty good idea on what device will suit  you. You won't be using your tablet/laptop for one purpose only, and so you should pick one according to your lifestyle and secondary needs.


iPad (10") and Nexus 7 (7")
Both devices are meant to be portable. But when it comes to size and weight, you'll definitely find the tablet more easier to carry around with you.
Tablets come in two different sizes: 10 inches and 7 inches. Apple has the iPad 2 and the iPad mini; same goes for Asus with the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10. Personally, I would recommend the seven inches tablet for those interested in frequently taking their tablet out with them for a breath of fresh air. I truly enjoy the compact and manageable size of my Nexus 7, as it fits easily into all of my bags and it doesn't look big and awkward when carrying it solo.
A laptop is also portable, but generally they're heavy and you can't take them with you places without a bag. You can get light-and-thin laptops like the Apple's MacBook Air or the Lenova's Ideapad Yoga, but they are expensive and cost more than $1000.
Recommended: Tablet


Some laptops have a longer charge time than others, and the same goes for tablets. Longer running laptops with standard batteries can on average last up to 7 hours when continuously used; low budget laptops, on the other hand,will give you 2-3 hours of continuous use. Tablets are not meant to be turned off and are always in standby mode with the Wi-Fi on, because of which they are designed to last longer. A tablet generally can last at least two days on a single charge with minimal use, but this varies model to model. The table below depicts the average battery life of five of the best tablets and the best laptops as rated by cnet. Tablets last longer!
Recommended: Tablet

Standard Battery lives taken from official websites of manufacturers.


Many of your work applications have been brought to tablets and smartphones, but with limited functions. Laptops and computers still enjoy the complete package because they have powerful processors and app designers have more flexibility.

The most popular applications in working spaces are those of the Microsoft Office suite: of which the most popular are Ms Word for typing documents, Ms Powerpoint for designing presentations and Ms Excel for calculating spreadsheets. As a smartphone user, you may be aware that these documents can also be edited on your phone and tablet using popular formatting and editing tools, through apps downloaded. Microsoft has released an official app known as Office 365 for iPhone and Android, requiring a paid subscription. Over the summer Google has also released an app, Quickoffice (which is now included as a stock app in the new Kit Kat update) and Apple also released iWork for iPads and the iPhone. Impressive as these apps are, they still lack all the features and formatting tools available on the PC. If you type documents and use the other office tools frequently, I would suggest that you stay far away from the tablet. Although there are improvements in these apps by the day, there is still a long way to go before developers can bring that level of functionality to tablets and phones. 
Recommended: Laptop

Games and Kids:

With popular games like Angry Birds and Temple Run, we tend to perceive tablets and smartphones as gaming devices. There are tonnes of free and paid games to choose from on your tablet; the same goes for laptops. Rather laptops are able to run more intense, action packed games which are also played on the Xbox and PlayStation. Anybody who has played AAA video games on a console like Call of Duty, knows that there is a world of difference between PC games and tablets. 
If you have kids, you'd be looking for something which will keep them entertained and yet remain useful to you. Both devices can entertain equally well. Laptops offer thousands of free online flash games and you can also buy educational CD's. Games like Angry birds can also played on your desktop on Chrome. Kids will find tablets easier to handle, but rest assured they can just as easily manage laptops.
Recommended: Laptop


If you are an avid book reader, tablets will be a welcome replacement to your mountain of books. Before indulging into the Kindle, I would read on my laptop because new books aren't easily available in my region and I could get the latest ones online. I've also replaced certain textbooks, by scanning pages and saving them onto my tablet to save space when I'm on the go. I even use my tablet in place of books lying within the same room, like my Holy Quran; it's easier to make bookmarks and notes and I never have to make any effort in marking the last page read before closing the book.
Recommended: Tablet

Data Transfer:

Most of the top leading tablets lack a USB socket and SD Card capability. These means you'll have to rely more on cloud storage services like Dropbox and Google Drive for transferring your files and photos between devices. But it can be especially cumbersome when transferring files from your camera or a friend's USB drive. If its very important to you, tablets like the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet, the Acer Iconia A500, and the Toshiba Thrive come fitted with a USB socket or you can also buy a port adapter for your devices, like the camera connection kit for iPad
Recommended: Laptop


Tablets are cheaper than laptops- with the exception of the iPad.
Recommended: Tablet (duh) 

Startup time:

This is a point of consideration for those who need to access their devices immediately. This depends upon the purpose of use; those who plan to use it for taking notes in the classroom and displaying data in business meetings, you will need something which can be accessed at a moment's notice. For you, the tablet is preferable. Some of the reasons why families just need to have that one "family iPad"in the house is for quick email checks and those I need to Google something right now moments. A tablet beats a laptop with faster start up time, because of its convenient standby mode and advantage of not needing to set it up.
Recommended: Tablet


As a student myself, I can confidently tell you that a laptop is what you need. It encompasses all those neat, convenient features of a tablet and gives you more control and flexibility with your work- which you will need. Laptops tend to be more stable and durable, and if something goes wrong there's more support in the faces of friends and IT guys, available around you. If you can afford both, great, go for it; but if you're looking for one in particular, then laptop it is. There are tons of student-friendly apps out there, and they're just as easily compatible on a smartphone.
Recommended: Laptop

Taking Pictures:

Both devices come fitted with front facing cameras of mediocre quality, meant for video conferencing. Pricier tablets do, however, have rear-fitted cameras with acceptably good quality. Either way these devices are not meant to capture events visually, no matter how many people you see capturing Mickey's dance at Disneyland with an iPad.
Recommended: Neither


Tablets have many attractive apps to help organize your life and make the most of your time away from home. Many of these apps like Evernote and Remember the Milk are, unbeknownst to many, also available on your desktop computers. You can either install the programs from their official websites or easily use them through Google Chrome by downloading them from the Chrome Web Store
Tablets are primarily designed around these apps, making them easily accessible and giving apps more options to pester you into finishing your homework. Considering the size and portability of a tablet you'll be more likely to have it on you when grocery shopping or to review your presentation on the bus to work.
Recommended: Tablet


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