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Laptop vs Tablet- Which should you buy?

Laptop vs Tablet- Which should you buy?

A laptop is a portable computer with a small form factor. Laptops are not as powerful as desktops, but they are more portable and convenient. Tablets are lighter and more portable than laptops, but they can't perform as many tasks. But while these are both perfectly viable devices, they have more differences than they have things in common. If you are looking to buy either a tablet or a laptop, I'm going to help you make that decision that will help you make smarter buying decisions.

Laptop vs tablet - which is better for you?

I'm going to compare the tablet and laptop by examining detail by categories like size, battery life, storage capacity, performance, software, displays, battery life, portability, keyboard, size, interface, connectivity, cost, and much more. By the end of this article, you'll hopefully have a clearer picture of which device is better suited to your needs.

#1. Portability

Laptop vs Tablet- Which should you buy?

Portability is the main common denominator and also their defining characteristic but which device handles portability better?

Tablet -

The average size of a tablet is anywhere between 7 and 13 inches but most are 8 to 10 inches. Tablets generally weigh between 300 and 700 grams. Although, only the larger devices like the 13-inch iPad pro get anywhere near that 700-gram mark.

Laptop -

The average size of laptops is anywhere from 12 to 21 inches in diameter. Although most models are in the 15 to 17-inch range. The average 15-inch laptop will usually weigh around 2kg. Some thin and lightweight notebooks can actually weigh less than a kilo but then you also have gaming models that weigh 4kg or more.

Most laptops are much larger and heavier, even one of the smallest ultraportables, apple's MacBook air 11 weighs over 2.38 pounds which is larger than many tablets.

Let's consider 2 kilos as a rough estimate weight of a laptop. So the average laptop is about twice as big as the average tablet and about four times as heavy.

It's not enough to say that tablets are more portable. It's also important to note how they handle portability in a completely different manner. You can take a laptop from point a to point b without much hassle but you more than likely won't be using it while you're traveling this distance. 
On the other hand, tablets can be easy and convenient to use on the go and at the same time not noticeable.

The tablets are about the size of a small paper notebook and weigh less than laptops. So portability can be the big reason if you want to go for a tablet compared to a laptop.

#2. Performance

Laptop vs Tablet- Which should you buy?

In any head-on clash regarding performance is inevitable. There really isn't much to say in the matter though.

Both devices are relatively on par in the low end when it comes to casual use. But as we move up the price ladder the capabilities of laptops really do leave the majority of tablets into dust. But first before looking at raw performance let's consider the intended use of these devices.


If you need a device for web surfing, multimedia, and some casual gaming then a tablet would actually probably opt for most low-end laptops.

Since most tablets are based on very low-power processors, they will generally lag behind a laptop when it comes to computing tasks. Of course, a lot of this depends on how the tablet or laptop is used for tasks like email, web browsing, video, or audio playback, both platforms will work normally just as well as neither requires a lot of performance. Things get complicated once start off with more demanding tasks, mostly graphics or multitasking performance.

Usually better suited to a laptop but not always, for example, in video editing, one would assume a laptop would be better but some high-end tablets can outperform laptops due to their specialized hardware. Just be warned that tablets such as the iPad Pro can be as expensive as a good laptop, the difference is the laptop version has more capabilities.

Laptop -

If you need a device for work or for more serious gaming and a laptop would definitely be the way to go. This is partly to do with the operating system. Most tablets use either ios or android but laptops use the same operating systems as desktop computers Windows, Linux, or Mac OS, and without getting too deep into the topic here's the most important distinction between the two at least for this discussion.

Mobile operating systems are highly convenient due to their ease of use and streamlined design but desktop operating systems have more features and offer a wider selection of feature-rich software.

Tablets are frankly quite limiting when it comes to software. If the same program is available both on Windows PC and a tablet, chances are that the mobile version doesn't have all the features that the desktop version does and this is to do with the hardware limitations of most tablets.

Because of this if you need a device for work be it your run-of-the-mill office work, drawing, video editing, or anything else you can think of you'll prefer having a laptop in most cases.

#3. Storage capacity

Laptop vs Tablet- Which should you buy?

Laptops outperform tablets in the storage category, even the cheapest modern laptops with at least 500 gigabytes of hard drive storage or at least 128 gigabytes of fast SSD storage. Meanwhile, you can find tablets with at least 8 gigabytes of storage space, though they typically run between 32 and 256 gigabytes, while you can also find 512 gigabytes or even 1 terabyte of storage on some high-end models.

Granted, you can expand the storage capacity of most tablets with a microSD memory card, which can further increase your storage capacity.

To keep their size and cost down, tablets have had to rely on new solid-state storage memory as a means of storing programs and data. While they have fast access and low power usage, a major downside is the number of files they can store. Most tablets come in configurations that allow for 16 and 128 gigabytes of storage and still use traditional hard drives that hold a lot.

However, micro SD cards do not have all the performance benefits of an SSD. Not to mention that you most likely won't be able to install apps on them. Meanwhile, laptops are a lot more flexible when it comes to storage.

Even if you go for one of the laptops with a lower capacity SSD or a slower hard drive, most laptops will allow you to replace the old drive with a new one + you can always use an external hard drive to spare. That said, it should be pretty clear that laptops win when it comes to storage capacity and upgrades. Although it's completely subjective how much local storage you'll actually need

#4. Displays

Laptop vs Tablet- Which should you buy?

We've compared average sizes for both tablets and laptops but the size isn't the only thing that matters when discussing this term. Also, the resolution is a considerable thing.

Laptops always outperform tablets when it comes to screen size but when it comes to resolution tablets have the advantage of higher pixel density which results in a sharper image.

Needless to say, 720p will look much better on an 8-inch tablet than on a 15-inch laptop. So if we're talking about devices in the same price range, it's worth pointing out that the increased pixel density makes a low-end tablet generally better than a low-priced laptop.

But of course, the quality of the display will vary with the price. The 1080p display found in a $200 tablet won't look anywhere near as good as the 1080p display on a $1000 dollar tablet or laptop. As a result, we can say that tablets kept more stock in their displays and laptops in the lower price range but as the price goes up the difference becomes much less noticeable.

#5. Interface

Laptop vs Tablet- Which should you buy?

The input method is an obvious difference between tablets and laptop is the lack of a keyboard.

Tablets -

Tablets rely solely on a touchscreen interface for all inputs, this is fine when it comes primarily to pointing, drawing, taking notes, dragging, or tapping to navigate a program. The latter may be more intuitive for casual tasks but the former is much more precise. 

Since they do not have a keyboard, users must type on a virtual keyboard that has different layouts. Most people can't type as fast or as accurately as on a virtual keyboard. Of course, you can use some peripherals to make it easier.

Most tablets support Bluetooth keyboards which is awesome if you need to get some real typing done but it adds cost and peripherals that need to be carried with the tablet.

Laptop -

For the most part, laptops rely on a physical keyboard and a touchpad for input. Laptops support an entire spectrum of peripherals both wired and wireless. You could use a separate keyboard mouse or touchpad as a means of input but other than that you could connect virtually any peripheral imaginable a monitor and external GPU, external storage speakers, a webcam, a microphone, and so on. That is of course provided that the laptop operating system supports the peripheral in question and that it has all the ports.

At the end of the day, a touchscreen interface is much more convenient for the casual tasks that you'd usually use a tablet for but laptops are definitely more precise and more flexible.

#6. Camera

Laptop vs Tablet- Which should you buy?

Tablets win in the camera category by a landslide, and for good reason. Both come equipped with better cameras, as tablet users may want to use them to take photos or record videos on the go.

After all, they fill the gap between smartphones and laptops, and more expensive tablets often have front and rear cameras. They can compete with those of the usual mid-range or even high-end smartphones.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of laptops do not have a rear camera, although some of these models do exist. However, this is not a very important feature for a laptop for obvious reasons.

As for front cameras, a tablet will easily outperform a similarly priced laptop in that regard, no questions asked. So in the end, tablets have better cameras than laptops, but laptops don't need to have good cameras as much as tablets.

#7. Battery life

Laptop vs Tablet- Which should you buy?

Which is better for battery life laptop or tablet?

Tablets -

Tablets are designed to be efficient due to the low power requirements of their hardware components. In fact, most of the interior of the tablet is taken up by a battery.
Tablets generally tend to have a good 8 to 12 hours of active use in them before needing to recharge. Laptops use more full hardware power even with a laptop's higher-capacity battery that they don't last as much as a tablet.

Laptop -

Laptops can have battery lives as minuscule as two hours and they very rarely exceed 6 hours of active use. And while there are notebooks and ultrabooks that can last you through a day's use like a good tablet, these are the exception, not the rule.

Why do tablets last longer before needing to recharge?

For starters, they use arm CPUs which are much simpler and less power-hungry than the CPUs found in laptops. Laptops typically reduce the increased battery drain from their power-hungry hardware by implementing a power-saving mode.

With power-saving enabled, the device uses various tricks to extend battery life such as dimming the screen brightness and reducing CPU performance and it can be turned on and off as needed. Overall, a tablet will still last longer but that's only natural if we consider the intended use of these devices and that a bit more.

#8. Software

Laptop vs Tablet- Which should you buy?

The software that runs on a laptop or tablet can be very different in terms of capabilities. Now, if the tablet is running Windows, it can theoretically run the same software as the laptop, but it will probably be slower. There are a few exceptions, such as the Microsoft Surface Pro. This can make it easier to use as a primary laptop with the same software used in the work environment. The other two main tablet platforms at the moment are Android and iOS, both of these require applications specific to their operating systems.

A lot of applications are available for each of these and many perform most of the basic tasks that a laptop can do. The problem is that the lack of input devices and hardware performance limitations mean that some more advanced features provided by the corresponding notebook class programs may need to be removed to fit the tablet environment.

#9. Connectivity

Laptop vs Tablet- Which should you buy?

All modern laptops come with Bluetooth and wi-fi capabilities and some models support cellular connectivity as well. Most laptops also feature all the same types of ports that you can find in a desktop motherboard USB 3.0, USB 3.1, USB-c, ethernet, HDMI, audio jacks, and more. Of course, the more compact laptops include few reports and tend to favor USB-c.

The tablets naturally also support Bluetooth and wi-fi with cellular connectivity being much more commonplace than in laptops. However, when it comes to the wired connection, they will only include a single micro USB or USB-c port and while lightning connectors are still found in older iPad models.

All the newer ones will most likely come with USB-c. The 2018 iPad pro made the switch other than that most tablets also feature a single headphone jack.

#10. Cost

Laptop vs Tablet- Which should you buy?

There are actually three price categories of tablets on the market.

Budget tablets - Starting price for most budget tablets models that cost $50 to $100 which is good for simple tasks and much slower than it is for laptops which start at around 150.

Middle tier tablets - The middle tier tablets around $200 to $400 and do most tasks just fine. Each of these is much more affordable than most budget laptops that actually start around $400 and few tablets cost more than $1000.

Mainstream - Mainstream tablets that start around $500 and go over $ 1000. Some high-end gaming and notebooks laptop prices can also go much higher than tablet prices over the $2,000 mark. These tablets can deliver performance, but at these prices, they tend to fall behind what you can achieve at the same price as laptops.

In any case, people will usually invest far less in a tablet than they would in a laptop and cheap tablets generally tend to work better than cheap laptops. So it really depends on the type of tablet and laptop you are comparing. On the low end, the advantages of a tablet are clear, but it's a high-end laptop that tends to be a lot more competitive in terms of cost.

Laptop vs Tablet - Which one should you choose?

Portability is the main common thing between two devices so you shouldn't take the device that's objectively better because objectively they shouldn't even be competing.

You have a fully functional desktop PC, if you take the portability away from a laptop, I'd put it with tune-on hardware and you don't see anyone making comparisons between a desktop PC and a tablet. Instead, know what your need is from a portable device. If you just need a device for browsing, the web, listening to music, and playing some casual games then you're going to appreciate a tablet more, despite any of the shortcomings highlighted in this article.

Tablets have better battery life. A display that will be better than what you'll find in similarly priced laptops and they're a lot more convenient to use on the go.

If you need a device for work then the laptop is the best bet. With the large screen, it is easy to multitask and a physical keyboard combined with a touchpad or mouse leads to more precise interaction and the software is more powerful too.

Laptops are also better gaming devices because they can play all the games that a desktop PC can. Combining a powerful CPU and GPU inside a laptop is no easy task. So a proper gaming laptop will always cost more than a desktop with similar features. Not to mention that a desktop would allow for better performance to do more efficient cooling.

So this round will end as a tie as it stands laptops still offer a greater level of flexibility when it comes to mobile computing. They may not have the same level of portability, runtimes, or ease of use as a tablet, but there are still a number of problems that tablets must solve before they become the primary medium of mobile computing. But if you are contemplating what kind of device to get, this is pretty much everything that you need to keep in mind.

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