Tablet or Laptop? What do I choose?!

One of the biggest advances in the tech world over the last few years is the maturation of the mobile computing platform. Devices such as laptops, ultrabooks, tablets and phones have all made working on the go far easier. With such breadth of choice, however, comes confusion. What should you be getting to cover your mobile computing needs?

Obviously everyone has slightly different needs when it comes to their own style of working, but there are some general guidelines that can help narrow down your choice.

Tablets – If you are looking for a device to mostly “consume” on, such as reading articles and browsing the web, then a tablet might be for you. Tablets come in a range of sizes with a range of processing abilities, so there is plenty of choice to find one that suits your needs. The most recognizable tablet is of course the iPad, which is so widely used for good reason. They are easy to use, and tend to work pretty well out of the box. Their popularity also means that repairs are generally cheaper than other options, although it depends on the model. There are many android alternatives if you prefer that platform. If you need a bit more grunt, something like a Microsoft Surface Pro might be your cup of tea. Along with more processing power, the more fully functional Windows operating system, removable keyboard and integrated stylus pen option help make it a viable choice for power users. Just note that they are a fair bit larger than your standard iPad, and are much harder and more expensive to get repaired. The iPad pro doesn’t give as much ‘Pro’ functionality as a Surface, so we recommend you shy away from that unless what you really want is an iPad with a big screen and a pen stylus.

Ultrabooks – Ultrabooks are essentially very thin and light laptops. Introduced into the wider market with the macbook air, they were large step up from the old netbooks that preceded them as highly portable laptops. Ultrabooks give the user full functionality of an operating system, instead of a pared down mobile OS. If you spend a lot of time using the keyboard, this might be an option to go for. The trade offs for ultrabooks come in their high price for processing power (as for a lot of mobile devices), and a lot less hardware upgrade-ability than a standard laptop. A note on laptops with touchscreens, which have become more widespread in the last few years. Unless you really want to use that touchscreen capability (which is less useful when you have a trackpad and keyboard permanently attached), we would suggest opting for the non-touchscreen option. Touchscreens tend to be very expensive (if possible at all) to replace should it get cracked or damaged (and I can tell you, from my experience as a computer tech, it’s a lot more common than you might guess!)

Transforming Tablet/Notebooks – Transforming tablet notebooks are designed to try and give you the best of both worlds. This has been achieved with varying success between manufacturers and models. They tend to be more expensive to repair than standard laptops while being more fragile, and some of the cheaper ones are very low powered compared to similar laptops. Things get a bit better on the expensive end, with the Microsoft Surface Book getting generally pretty good reviews. If you aren’t willing to pay that much, you might find that getting a standard Microsoft Surface or an iPad with an attachable keyboard will do what you want for cheaper, with the upshot of the keyboard being replaceable relatively cheaply if it’s damaged.

Whatever you opt for, there will be trade offs, such as size, weight, power, cost and functionality. You can’t have them all, so you’ll need to pick what is important for you.