Tablets are best for reading content, simple web research and using apps, and are very portable.
When it comes to buying a new portable computer, these days you’re no longer limited to a simple laptop option. Tablets can be a great alternative for many people looking to get things done on the go. How do you choose which type of device will be best for you?
This guide looks at key features you may be considering and how each type of device fits into each requirement. Essentially it comes down to what your main focus is for your device and how you will use it - both laptops and tablets offer extremely convenient and powerful features.
There’s no argument that tablets would provide the most portability. In many cases the screen is smaller and thinner than any laptop and so automatically they are easier to carry around.
In saying that, a 2-in-1 laptop tablet hybrid could be a good option for you if portability is important but having traditional text input (keyboard rather than touchscreen) is also important. The Microsoft Surface Pro 12-inch for example weighs under 800 grams depending on which processor you opt for.
Overall it depends on how many other items you will need to fit in your bag and whether you would be ok carrying your laptop in a separate bag if needed. The weight will likely go unnoticed - it will be the size that will compromise the portability of your chosen device.
Best performance will be provided by laptops due to their larger casing which can house more hardware. Multi-tasking for example, is easier on a laptop than a tablet because of the processing power available at the laptop’s disposal, however tablets and 2-in-1s especially are always improving the processing power and capacity.
With advancements in technology brands are quickly able to close the gap in performance and make tablets and 2-in-1s a more competitive option in this area. Still, if you’re doing in-depth research or a similarly intensive task that requires multiple programmes to be open, you can’t beat the desktop approach offered by laptops and more powerful 2-in-1s.
This is not to say that tablets will run slowly or won’t offer a smooth user experience, it’s simply that laptops are better equipped to deal with more intense tasks.
Another good feature for the tablet is that because it is smaller, it will always have a better battery life than laptops. Smaller and more efficient hardware to power means it uses less power over traditional laptops keeping you away from the power socket for longer. Tablets are also smaller with smaller screens and hence require less battery to operate.
In comparison, 13-inch laptops require a larger battery but usually the battery will be around the same size resulting in a shorter battery life. However, many newer laptops and 2-in-1s have improved battery life making them last almost as long as tablets - but none compare directly as yet.
Many laptop brands will boast a full day battery life but this will obviously be reduced when running intensive tasks and full brightness on the go - however this may not be an issue for you if you plan to have a charging port available when using at school and at home.
As mentioned, tablets are generally 7-11 inches while laptops are 12-16 inches. There are exceptions and 2-in-1s vary considerably within this range and hence can offer more screen size choice along with a range of other desirable features.
A bigger screen size doesn’t necessarily mean that display quality will be better though. Smaller screens generally have better pixel-per-inch (PPI) density meaning the individual pixels are packed closer together resulting in a sharper image.
However, many laptops and 2-in1s are now Full HD or better (1080p) which is an excellent quality image. Viewing the device alone it is unlikely you would notice a difference in image quality and so unless it is a big focus for you - display will simply come down to the size screen you require more than the PPI.
On the note of display, text input is also an important feature to keep in mind. This is where 2-in-1s shine - not only do you have the precision of a keyboard and mouse but you also get the intuitivity with a touch screen - allowing your device to be controlled however you choose.
The most obvious difference of tablets is that tablets solely rely on a touchscreen for all input. This is fine when it is mainly used for pointing, dragging, or tapping to navigate a programme. The problems start when you need to write up documents or emails. Many tablets can support a detachable keyboard and some also support a mouse - of course the feel of a full-sized keyboard of a laptop cannot be beaten and so laptops end up being much easier to control.
This is why 2-in-1s are best when considering text input - they are designed to seamlessly transition between both tablet and laptop and so are optimised for touch and keyboard input as the user chooses.
When it comes to software, tablets are centered around apps while laptops offer a more versatile desktop experience. If you want to use intensive programmes such as Photoshop or inDesign or anything that demands more than tapping a screen can accommodate, then a laptop or a powerful 2-in-1 is your best bet.
Tablets (with the exception of Surface tablets) will likely still be able to run the same software but due to the hardware inside the device, it is not designed to support intensive programmes and so will run much slower to achieve the same result.
If you will primarily be using the built-in apps on a tablet each school day then a tablet will suffice for your daily tasks, however if you need to run more complex software you will want to consider a powerful 2-in-1 or laptop to do the job. A 2-in-1 will also offer a more hybrid experience, combining the simplicity of apps with the ability to manage complex programmes as needed.
There has been huge improvements in recent years to the amount of storage you can get in a tablet vs a laptop or 2-in-1. Of course, laptops with more storage will cost less so if storage is one of the most important factors for you when investing in a BYOD device then laptops will be the way to go.
If you are sold on a particular device that has little storage you can always add an external drive to support your projects and files - creating a viable solution for tablets and less powerful 2-in-1s. A great option for students is cloud-based storage. Cloud-based storage creates a copy of your data anywhere and anytime as long as you are connected to the internet.
Another consideration when choosing the storage on your device is whether you buy a device with a solid-state drive (SSD) or hard disk drive (HDD). The traditional hard disk drive (HDD) is the original hard drive, and holds everything from the operating system and software to all images, files, documents, and videos.
Solid state drive (SSD or SS Drive) use microchips to store data, meaning they are flash-based and have no moving parts. This results in a quieter, lighter, and cooler drive that can significantly improve overall system performance - giving you faster boot up times, application launches, and file saving capabilities.
SSDs can be internal or external drives and are designed for speed more than capacity, so expect to pay a premium if you need a larger storage space. EMMc storage is an alternative to SSD and is found in lower cost laptops and tablets. In most ways EMMc is equivalent to SSD (in storage type, size, and reliability), however they lack the speeds that SSDs offer.
For more information on drives and storage see our buying guide.
Ultimately, it’s the price you are willing and able to pay for the device you desire. Weighing up the price you can afford against your most important features will mean you might need to compromise on either price or fulfilling required features.
At Noel Leeming we know that BYOD can be financially challenging and so we have a range of payment options to make BYOD more manageable and enjoyable. See our payment options here.
So you have chosen your BYOD device and now your child or teenager will take it to school and do amazing inspiring work on it! It leaves you wondering how you can ensure you are supporting your child or teenager through the labyrinth of today’s cyber world.
Tech Solutions is here to not only set up your device, but also to give you as a parent peace of mind and help connect parents to their child’s device. Find out more here.