Chromebooks and tablets are revolutionary products that bring users an accessible way to work on the go, play games online, and keep up to date with their schedules. If you’ve ever wanted a device with enough processing power to get on top of your productive tasks with lightweight portability, a Chromebook or tablet may just be for you.
The tablet vs Chromebook debate has raged for over a decade, especially when consumers are looking for something that’s less bulky than a laptop but with more power than a smartphone. We’ll be covering an explanation of what Chromebooks and tablets are, the key differences between them, some frequently asked questions, and our findings on which is right for you!
Chromebooks tend to follow the design of a traditional laptop-style device but have been slimmed down and made for easy working like writing and editing. They are an affordable option compared to laptops and a stable budget device for the working world.
You’ll find that Chromebooks are great for productivity, featuring a trackpad and full keyboard functionality.
There are a wide variety of ranges for tablets to fall in, and both android and IOS tablets tend to follow the same design but the differences in price and performance between devices can be quite drastic.
Tablets are great for reading comics, internet browsing, and utilizing easy-to-navigate apps and games. They are extremely intuitive device that also excels when used for drawing. There is a wider range of options for tablets too, from Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab or Apple products like the iPad.
Software is an extremely important part of a device, and we’ll first take a look at the differences between Chrome OS, Android, and iPadOS.
The difference between software is a defining factor in the Chromebook vs tablet debate, as Chromebooks use Chrome OS. Tablets generally use Android and iPadOS software which offers users a variety of apps. Chromebooks and tablets are quite different and we’ll be covering Chromebook and Android apps, with some iPad apps as well.
Chromebooks use an operating system known as Chrome OS, which was made by Google. Since the operating system is made by Google, you can access the Google Suite of apps including Gmail, Google Docs, Google Slides, Chrome browser and Chrome web store, and many more. If you’re looking for an alternative to Microsoft Office, then Chromebooks will save you a lot of time and money.
That being said, there are certain applications that you can’t run on a Chromebook, including many Windows or MacOS software. However, Linux apps have recently become available to Chromebook users, allowing the more tech-savvy to access all the applications you’d ever want.
When it comes to tablet devices, Apple and Samsung have the dominant market share devices and so we’ll be using those as the main examples for the software.
Whether you have an iPad or a Galaxy tablet, you’ll have a wide range of applications to choose from when downloading apps from the Google Play Store and Apple Store. Both of these operating systems provide excellent access to countless applications.
That being said, if you’re comparing applications directly between Chromebooks and tablets, you’ll find that the tablet versions will often be missing certain features compared to the Chromebook versions.
Another factor is processing power – how well can your device run certain applications and its overall performance. You’ll find that this can be dramatically different depending on the model of Chromebook or tablet that you’re looking at.
Nevertheless, we’ll be looking at the most common examples and differences between Chromebooks and tablets.
As we’ve said, the processing power and performance vary quite wildly between models and certain models of tablets will outperform an equivalent Chromebook. For example, the Samsung Series 3 was one of the very first Chromebooks to use an ARM-based CPU, commonly found in many tablets.
While Chromebooks aren’t an outright winner, you’ll find that they are roughly equivalent capabilities. Your best bet is going for a medium or high-range model to enjoy a processing power that won’t let you down.
Tablets differ quite a bit in terms of processing power, with various models outperforming others. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 uses an Intel Atom processor chip which you’ll often find in cheaper laptop models.
As we’ve said with Chromebooks, you need to dive deep and see how the models in your price range compare to Chromebooks at a similar price point. But if you’re set on buying a tablet, you’ll be happy with the processing power of most mid to high-range devices.
Besides software and processing power, price is one of the most important factors when it comes to determining which device you intend to buy.
Both Chromebooks and tablets come in a wide range of prices, depending on the software and screen resolution. Read on as we dive deeper to look at the price differences between the two.
Chromebooks start at around a base range of $90 – $100, with the price increase based on the processing power that the Chromebook has. On the higher end, Chromebooks can match the budget of cheaper laptop models but offer a light and portable way to run certain programs while traveling.
If you’re planning to use your device to use apps that require more processing power, then a Chromebook will serve you better than a tablet.
The difference between budget models and high-quality models is largely about the screen resolution, with a smaller change in power than you’d expect from changes in prices in Chromebooks. Certain budget models like Windows tablets offer a cheap tablet alternative to use for your work.
If you or your children/teenagers are planning to mainly use your device to watch movies and series, play games, or draw, and require a high-resolution device to utilize, then an android tablet or iPad will be your top choice.
Working while traveling or at home has become a staple of the workplace environment and portability is a prized element of any productivity device.
Both tablets and Chromebooks are supremely portable compared to conventional laptops and desktop computers, and their lightweight structure makes it easy to take them with you no matter where you intend to go.
Chromebooks are a great option if you’re planning to be productive on the go, and serve as excellent alternatives for productivity compared to laptops thanks to their relatively lightweight. While being quite portable, Chromebooks aren’t quite as transport-friendly as tablet devices.
Chromebooks generally are about 12 inches wide, and 8 inches long, and weigh about 3 pounds on average. That being said, if you’re happy to set aside set storage space for a Chromebook and a cushioned case to store it in and equip your Chromebook with a durable protected screen, you’ll be more than happy with the portability of any Chromebook device that you purchase.
When it comes to portability, tablets reign supreme compared to Chromebooks. Even if you’re planning to purchase the larger models of tablets, like the iPad Pro or Samsung Galaxy Tab (coming in at about 13 inches), you’ll find that they can fit into a handbag or backpack with relative ease – not even mention all the smaller models that could fit in purses or pockets.
Tablets are also built for travel with the addition of various screen protectors that will withstand the strain and stress of continuous movement, use, and any mishaps that may happen when taking your tablet from one place to another. While not as durable as Chromebooks, tablets are a superb option thanks to their portability.
Touchscreen capabilities and screen size and resolution make up crucial elements of a device’s display and we’ll be compared the features and differences between Chromebooks and tablets so you know which one is right for you!
While you may think that the larger screen real estate that is afforded to Chromebooks would make them a better choice than tablets, this isn’t the case.
Chromebooks have a larger screen size, but the screen resolution is usually left lacking when you compare it to a tablet of a similar price range. This does differ at the higher end of devices, like with the Google Pixelbook, but this Chromebooks is significantly more expensive than your more mainline devices.
Made for watching movies and series, drawing works of art in Adobe Illustrator, and so much more, it makes sense that tablets would have superior screen resolution and features compared to the more jack-of-all-trades Chromebooks.
And while lower-end tablet screens tend to have lower resolution and size compared to Chromebooks, they offer features like IPS panels that show off a wider range of colors from more angles than the screens offered by Chromebooks.
Whether it’s files, images, or video, you don’t want to play the juggling game of uninstalling and re-installing applications to ensure that you have enough storage space to work with.
And while both Chromebooks and tablets may not be the storage behemoths of regular laptops and desktop computers, there are still a wide variety of options to make sure you’re never in a storage crisis. Generally, however, which device is the go-to if storage is one of your top priorities? Read on to find out the details!
Both Chromebooks and tablets generally rely on solid state drives (SSD) when it comes to determining their storage space – which makes both of them have fast performance but limited capacity.
Where Chromebooks different from tablets is your ability to add to their storage using USB ports and in some cases, sd card readers. Adding onto this storage versatility is the fact that Chromebooks will automatically store things on Google Drive.
There is a wide variety of storage options when comes to tablets. They tend to come from anywhere from 8 gigabytes to 64 gigabytes, with the newer models bumping this up to about a terabyte – with a comparable increase in price if you can handle it.
However, these tablets offer fewer options when it comes to storage options, but apple tablets and android tablets also will allow you cloud storage options if you need some extra storage. Sadly, most tablets don’t offer many external ports or options like flash memory cards.
How long you can use your device while you’re watching something or working is also an important factor when it comes to choosing your device.
You don’t want to constantly have to plug in and charge your device while you’re on the move either, so we’ve compared the differences between Chromebooks and tablets to see which comes out on top on a single charge.
Most Chromebooks are quite variable with it comes to the amount of battery life that they use, with some Chromebooks like the Lenovo Chromebook S330 lasting about 8 – 10 hours and others like the Acer Chromebook 14 lasting 12 – 14 hours.
Their larger size generally drains their battery life quicker than equivalent tablet devices, but this is different for every model that you look at.
Similar to Chromebooks, tablets also have a wide variety of battery life, but in most cases, you’ll find that tablets have a great battery life like the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3, which can last up to 14 hours. It’s an ideal tool for giving your children an opportunity to draw and learn on a tablet without needing to charge it too often.
The versatility of the tablet’s power options is also something to keep in mind, as the tablet micro-USB charge will allow users to charge their tablet devices more easily and in more places than the more bulky power cable that Chromebooks use.
Frequently Asked Questions
We often see the same few questions pop up again and again when it comes to when you should decide between tablets and Chromebooks, so we’ve tabulated them here for your convenience.
Can Chromebooks be used as tablets?
Some Chromebooks can be used as tablets and have touch-screen capabilities, you simply have to twist the screen to activate it. You can activate it when you open it on its hinges and flip the screen over, making it easier to navigate with finger swipes and gestures and playing games like Roblox.
What is the difference between Chromebooks & Tablets?
There are a couple of major differences between Chromebooks and tablets. Chromebooks are very similar to laptops in design but usually tend to be lighter and have less processing power. They’re a great tool for productivity!
Tablets are also a great tool for productivity but rely on finger gestures to navigate them, with no keyboard or mouse to use alongside it. There are external keyboards that users can employ along with their tablets, but tablets are often more used for watching series and movies.
What is the main purpose of a Chromebook?
Chromebooks are great devices that come with many features presented by Google. Including an operating system known as Chrome OS and apps, Chromebooks are a neat alternative that comes with the Google suite of apps for you to use.
If you’re looking for a lighter and more compact device with Gmail, Google Docs, and other apps, then a Chromebooks is a great choice. If you’re planning to work on 3D modeling and engineering, a Chromebook is a great choice.
Both Chromebooks and tablets are excellent devices to grab for productivity. If you’re planning to purchase a device with the primary purpose to work on the go with a device cheaper than a laptop, then a Chromebooks is the ideal option – just make sure to find the right Chromebook at the various price range.
If you’re planning to run Android apps, play and learn on applications like ABC Mouse, or watch Netflix, then a tablet device will the best for you. But whether you should pick up a Samsung Tab, iPad, or one of the other options, that’s entirely up to you!
Writer Graham Grieve brings two decades of technical communications experience to The Holy Tech coverage. Isaac contributes articles on laptops, tablets and PCs, alongside various software and hardware guides. Isaac is a former newspaper journalist who also worked in tech communications for some of the country’s biggest corporations. He also counsels and creates material for other technology publications and hosts a podcast.
Isaac’s in-depth reporting and knowledge of hardware and software issues helps The Holy Tech’s readers learn how to choose the right products, or solve tricky problems.