It’s a common thread on the internet at the moment – but how do you really decide where you need a laptop, tablet, smartphone or all three? It depends on a five key factors – purpose, portability, money, requirement and interoperability. Ultimately there is no hard and fast rule as to who should have what, but this article is geared to help you make a more informed decision.
Laptops were designed to be portable computers. They revolutionized business and communication with their ability to take work around the world and allow people to work whilst they were travelling, without having to take armfuls of paper. Today, laptops are seen as ‘the norm’ amongst most businesses and still boast a lot more convenience than tablets in many ways – they are easier to write and format documents, printing is more straight forward, more people still use them where collaboration is important…but there are drawbacks – laptops are heavy in comparison to our lifestyles now – not just because of long haul travelling, but we all lead busier lives than before. So the markets responded…with tablets.
Tablets can offer a far superiour battery life, weigh considerably less whilst still allowing users to perform key tasks – emails, internet browsing, word processing and more. Tablets are not designed to replace laptops and they do not come with a keyboard, mouse, CD-ROM drive or other connectivity ports as standard (USB, Firewire etc.) but lots of these are all available as extras, depending which tablet you choose. The same applies to software (or ‘apps‘ on tablets and smartphones). Even your laptop does not come with all the software you need, preinstalled – you have to install or download it, much like you do on a tablet. There are 1000’s of apps available to tablet and smartphone users, and available at the click of a button.
Smartphones are opportunistic more than anything else – they serve their basic purpose, to make and receive calls but at the same time, they act as a personal communication and media tool – sophisticated contacts organisation, SMS, MMS, web browsing, emailing, note taking…and the sky is your oyster when you look at 3rd party apps available – Office suites, social networking tools, games, navigation and travelling…the list is endless.
Generally speaking, a tablet is to fill a gap in the market between smartphones and laptops. They are not regarded a necessity (yet, at least) but tablets are to computing what village shops are to small communities – convenient, at a price. Speaking from personal experience – I was simply intrigued to find out how useful a tablet device is, and so as soon as The New iPad arrived on our shelves, I went and bought one. I would be lost without it now – but why?
Ever been sat on the sofa in the evening thinking “I must email so-and-so”? You probably wouldn’t bother if you had to get up, reach for the laptop, wait five minutes for it to boot up….load your mail package…and eventually set about drafting your email. A tablet is always turned on, unless you physically opt to turn it off. When the screen is off, it uses minimal battery, and will sit dormant for weeks without being charged. It can sit on the coffee table or the arm of the sofa unintrusively and within 10 seconds, you can be writing your email. The same thing applies for many other ‘convenient but not necessary‘ tasks…
- Finding out the weather forecast before getting ready for work;
- Checking the traffic before you set off;
- Finding out about someone famous that you’re watching on TV;
- Looking for a new recipe for dinner;
- Following areas of interest on Twitter;
- Checking the results of the latest sporting events;
- Showing off your recent photos without having to print them or put them online;
The examples above and so many more are all nice-to-haves but what price would you pay on making sure you don’t miss that meeting because of a road closure, or not missing out on important social events…? Personally, its worth the £400 I paid for my 16GB Wireless iPad – but I still have a laptop and a smartphone.
Ultimately, a smartphone and laptop will cover all bases and a smartphone does do a lot of what a tablet can offer – but the screen size will prevent people from using it to it’s full potential.
Given the fact that a tablet has the same processing capability as a laptop of equivelant price, you need to refer to the graph below, taking basic functionality and marking them 1-5, before you make your decision on whether you need a laptop, tablet or both: