If you’re undecided about buying a tablet or a laptop, you’ve come to the right place! We’ve compiled a thorough and comparative list between laptops and tablets to determine which one you should pick!
While laptops are usually more expensive and have a powerful operating system, a tablet is an obvious choice if you want a portable option – one that is usually less expensive and has less CPU power than a laptop.
Here’s the breakdown of the differences between the two if you just need a quick look at which is the best fit for you.
A tablet is the best choice if you’re aiming to use the device as a casual way to take notes, watch Netflix or Youtube, or play mobile games. Specific jobs will also benefit from having a tablet, like graphic design or 3D modeling.
A laptop is the best choice if you’re planning to play games with high graphical requirements or want to increase work productivity. Laptops are a great portable alternative to desktop computers.
Most jobs require using specific applications like Microsoft Excel or WordPress that a laptop will run better than a tablet. A desktop PC is better if you’re working at an office or at home without moving too much on a daily basis.
Processing power is essential when deciding what type of device you should purchase. The differences between the processing powers of devices also depend on the device’s price range.
Laptops that offer high CPU power compared to most tablet devices. If you’re looking at mid or high-end laptops, then there’s no question that laptops reign supreme regarding CPU power.
If you’re planning on running games with high requirements or your work requires a very responsive device, like in engineering, you’ll benefit from purchasing a medium or higher-range laptop.
Tablets tend to have lower processing capabilities than laptops. However, regarding low-end laptops, tablets tend to have better processing and allow users to do more at a similar price.
If you’re planning to use the device primarily for browsing the web, watching Netflix, or casual gaming, you’ll find that a tablet will outperform a low-end laptop equivalent.
Price is usually one of the most critical factors for consumers when deciding between laptops and tablets. Depending on what you’ll be using the device for, the price determines the key and quality of life features you’ll receive.
Laptop prices start at a higher starting point than tablets, usually around the $150 price range, and this increases to about $750 for your mid-range or more mainstream laptops that will function with more power than a tablet.
The price can be quite drastically different if you’re planning on investing in a high-end laptop. High-end laptops can reach prices as much as $5000 if you’re looking for a high-quality gaming laptop or notebook, but this can also reach more than $10,000.
On the other hand, tablets generally start at a lower price than laptops. They usually cost about $50 and can go up to about $1,000 for very high-end tablets, but specialized tablets for particular industries can go beyond this price point but not to the level you’d find for very high-end laptops.
Cheaper tablets will give you more value than a cheap laptop, so it’s an easy choice if you have a limited budget.
The Operating System of a device is the software that the device uses, each of which gives the hardware a different range of functions and features. You’ll find that tablets tend only to have IOS, Android, or Fire OS operating systems, while laptops can have Windows, macOS, or Linux as their operating system.
Windows is the dominant laptop operating system in professional and casual settings. Still, macOS and Linux are also meritable systems that offer users a wide range of features and more robust software.
These features and powerful software are the main differentiating factor between laptops and tablets. The tablet version of specific applications like Roblox is lacking compared to the laptop version.
Tablets have fewer features or powerful software than laptops. Still, mobile operating systems also take the key segments and essential software and streamline them, making them extremely easy to use by anyone – including young children.
If you’re looking to use a particular piece of software or application for your work, then the tablet version of the software will be missing certain features compared to the laptop version.
If you’re planning on regularly traveling with your device, then the portability of your device will be of utmost importance. Laptops and tablets vary widely in weight and density, but tablets weigh significantly less than laptops on average.
Laptops are generally heavier than tablets, usually weighing between 1kg to 4kg based on the type of laptop. Gaming laptops tend to be on the more bulky side, while notebooks tend to be on the lighter side.
Macbooks are laptops praised for their extraordinarily lightweight design while keeping their processing capabilities.
Tablets reign supreme regarding portability, and there’s no doubt about it. Tablets weigh about 300 – 700 grams and are easily tucked away in a backpack or sleeve.
At this weight, tablets find an outstanding balance between being extremely portable and very functional, and it’s easy to take a tablet with you everywhere you go. Teenagers and young children will also love having a laptop for schoolwork and entertainment.
The display is the cumulative result of combining a screen’s size and resolution. Screen sizes vary between devices, but laptop screens generally have larger screens and larger frames, so you’ll likely always find that tablets need more display.
Laptops tend to have a wider screen size than tablets, usually between 12 – 21 inches, but most laptops fall within the 15 – 17 inch range.
However, the resolution density throughout this larger screen size makes a manageable impact on the laptop’s display.
Tablets tend to have a smaller screen size than laptops and come in at around 7 – 13 inches.
However, the actual resolution density is a lot higher than with laptops. If you take a 1080p display tablet or laptop, you’ll find that a tablet will look better than it would on an equivalent laptop. Tablets are great for reading comics, learning on ABC Mouse, or watching videos thanks to this dense screen resolution.
Whether you’re traveling abroad and want to watch something or if you’re not near a power source, battery life is an essential factor to consider when deciding between a laptop vs. tablet.
Laptops generally consume more battery life than tablets, which makes sense when you consider that laptops have more processing power. Typically, laptops have a battery life of about 2 – 4 hours, depending on what you’re doing.
Most tablets have a longer battery life than laptops; tablets offer an excellent alternative for entertainment and work while traveling without a charging port. Tablets have a long battery life, lasting up to ten hours – but this is also subjective to the applications and screen brightness.
Regarding battery life, tablets are the winners due to their less intensive usage.
Storage capacity refers to how many applications, files, and documents your device can store and is one of the most crucial requirements when deciding on a device. You’ll quickly find that even the cheapest laptops have more storage than most tablets.
That being said, there are quite a few to increase a device’s storage in the form of external storage. Many tablets, except iPads, can expand their storage with relatively cheap MicroSD memory cards, which can come in storage sizes of up to 1 terabyte.
If you’re looking for a device with a large storage capacity, then a laptop is the way to go. At the lower laptop price range, devices will have at least 500 gigabytes of HHD and 128 gigabytes of SSD.
This can easily reach one terabyte, and you’ll see that many laptops today are slowly transitioning to having one terabyte be the standard.
Tablets generally come in with a lower storage capacity thanks to their limited size and lower processing ability, and they usually range from 8 gigabytes to 256 gigabytes. Still, you’ll find that higher-end tablets will match laptops in terms of storage capacity, even reaching a storage space of up to one terabyte.
As we’ve mentioned, though, tablets can be made equal to laptops thanks to the use of external storage. And unless you’re planning on downloading many movies or files, the set amount of storage you receive on a tablet should be enough.
The user interface describes the parts of your device that you interact with – the buttons, gestures, and external devices you use to navigate your device.
For laptops, this usually comes with an internal keyboard and trackpad, but you’ll find that many users will purchase external keyboards and a mouse to improve the user interface experience. Tablets come with touch screens that allow easy navigation using your fingers to make specific gestures and patterns.
Laptops and tablets are used for fundamentally different things, so comparing user interfaces is complex – both are designed to be the best for their work.
The laptop’s screen is usually not a touch screen (except for a 2-in-1 laptop) and relies on a keyboard and mouse to navigate. This user interfaces best suits more serious gaming, constant communication and writing, and quick-response interface requirements.
Tablet devices operate through a touch screen, using finger taps and gestures to navigate the user interface. This navigation is highly intuitive and easy to use, and if you’re using your tablet for casual internet browsing or gaming, the touchscreen is a great option.
A tablet will also be compatible with a stylus with which you can draw and design in a way you can’t do on a laptop. Similarly, Bluetooth keyboards and a mouse will allow you to easily use all your favorite apps, similar to laptops.
Regarding camera features, both laptops and tablets have cameras, but users will find that the cameras on tablets will generally be better than laptops.
Tablets offer more versatility when talking about cameras, and tablets will often reign supreme at all price points compared to laptops.
Laptops tend only to have a front-facing camera, which is ideal for video meetings on Zoom. However, the lack of a laptop’s rear camera decreases the versatility considerably.
That said, you’ll likely never use a rear-facing camera when using a laptop since most phones fill that niche. Nevertheless, it’s doubtful you’ll be delighted with a laptop’s camera functions.
Modern tablets are well-equipped with quality cameras for front-facing and rear-facing photos, making them a great alternative to a phone, thanks to their portability. That said, it’s important to note that only mid-range or higher-end tablets will come close to the camera quality you’ll find in most modern phones.
If you’re looking for a device that allows you to join video calls, take pictures on the go, and have an easy way to edit photos, you’ll prefer a tablet to a laptop.
What are Laptops and Tablets used for?
The uses for laptops and tablets are quite different, and they appeal to various target markets. There are slight overlaps between the two, but you’ll find that you will use laptops and tablets for other things.
We’ve listed some places and settings that consumers will most commonly find themselves in, referred back to our comparisons, and then offered our suggestions based on what we think is the best for your place or setting.
If you’re planning to use your device in a workplace setting, business users will find that a laptop is one of the most valuable tools you can have. Since your place of work takes place in one location, you can sacrifice portability for high processing efficiency.
The type of device that would suit your industry highly depends on the industry. A graphic designer who uses Adobe Illustrator daily will likely be more suited to a high-end tablet device where they can freely draw and edit their designs.
A developer will find that most laptops and their high processing power will be more beneficial.
If you’re looking for a device to use at home or for a family member, your budget should determine the type of device you should buy, as both would be a great addition to a family setting.
If you have a constrained budget, a tablet will serve you better than a low-end laptop. If you have more of a budget for your device, you’ll be more satisfied with the performance and processing of a laptop.
Students often take notes regularly and use their devices for research and casual gaming. A student benefits the most from using a tablet rather than a laptop in most cases, but you’ll often find that students will also have a laptop.
In most cases, it’s really up to your budget and preferences whether you’d like a tablet or laptop for your school or college.
Some questions continually pop up when people ask about tablets or laptops. We’ve brought the most common ones together and answered them for you!
Can a tablet work as a laptop?
There are ways to make your tablet work similarly to a laptop, although the software and hardware will always be different compared to a laptop. 2-in-1 laptops, or hybrid laptops, are a great option that blends a tablet’s functionality with a laptop’s power but is heavier in tablet mode than an actual tablet.
You can purchase an external Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, which make it extremely easy to work like a laptop. The external keyboard and mouse are connected to your tablet via Bluetooth, allowing you to work more comfortably without sacrificing portability.
What are the disadvantages of a tablet?
We’ve covered a few disadvantages of the tablet: The smaller size limits the device’s efficiency and power. Many of the apps and features that you’d find on a laptop will have versions that are missing features on the tablet.
Tablets are also only touch screens, so typing and navigation may be slower than a mouse and keyboard. This can be solved by an external keyboard and mouse, although there is no way to match the processing ability of mid-range laptops.
Is it better to use a laptop or tablet?
This question is very subjective and depends on various factors – what will you use it for? What is the budget you have to spend on these devices? What device requirements and occupation do you have? Are you planning to travel a lot with the device, or will you primarily work on it at one location?
These questions are the best starting point for deciding which device is right for you.
Laptops and tablets are distinctly different devices that fill their market niches readily, so once you’ve determined which device you’ll find more use for, you’ll be happy with your decisions.
In general, however, if you’re on a budget and are happy to lose some of the processing ability and features of a laptop, a cheap tablet will serve you better than an equivalently priced laptop.
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.