Should I buy a tablet or a notebook?

Almost exactly two years ago, the iPad was released.  Before that, powerful tablets were restricted to science fiction films.  Since its release, the iPad and its sequel the iPad 2 have sold millions of units and garnered praise.  Last summer saw the release of many tablets from competitors such as Asus, Acer, Samsung, Motorola and more.  With the ever-increasing rise in popularity of tablets, as well as increased performance and functionality, how can you determine if you should make the jump to these new devices, or stick with the more traditional notebook?  Here are a few aspects to take into consideration when making your decision.

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Size
While laptops can certainly get small, they come nowhere near the size of tablets.  With notebooks, the screens are typically anywhere from 14 to 17 inches (with the exception of Ultrabooks and the Macbook Air, which both have screens as small as 11 inches).  Tablet screens, on the other hand, are usually between 7 and 10 inches.  If you want something more portable for simple things such as checking your email or social network, then the tablet will get the job done.  If you want to watch movies or visit high resolution websites, the laptop will provide the most comfortable experience.

Functionality
This is where most of the differences will become clear.  In order to decide which device would be best for your needs, you need to ask yourself: “What exactly are my needs?”  While tablets are certainly flexible, they don’t contain nearly as much storage or power as a laptop would.  If you plan on doing a lot of typing, or you need storage or raw computing power for playing graphics-intensive video games, video editing, music recording, or file storage, the laptop would be the best fit.

If you don’t need any of that, then a tablet might be a better choice.  They really shine when it comes to their apps, which are the meat of any tablet device.  Whether you choose to go with an iPad or Android tablet, there will be hundreds of thousands of applications that do anything from finding cheap prices to doubling as a GPS to opening and editing documents.  Keep in mind that you won’t be able to insert any CDs into the tablet, which could be a deal-breaker for those with a large music collection or stored family photos.

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Cost
This part can get a little tricky.  Each device can have a wide price range, but for tablets you can typically expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $400, where laptops usually start around $350 and can go as high as $2,000 depending on hardware.

Final Thoughts
All in all, the easiest way to determine which device is right for you is by first determining the intended uses.  If all you need is a way to check your email every now and then, update your Facebook status or watch some short clips, the tablet has everything you need.  If you type a lot, plan on watching high resolution videos or playing video games, or need CD reading/writing features, the laptop should remain your choice of hardware.

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  1. Thanks, great article.