Laptop or Tablet? We Weigh the Pros and Cons of Back-to-School Tech

Before you invest in a new device—and spend your hard-earned money—check out this high performance guide to choosing a laptop or tablet.

With back-to-school season just around the corner, it may be time to invest in a new device. If you are wondering how to choose between a laptop and tablet, it is important to take the time and compare how the portability, performance, specs, price and physical practicality of each option align with your needs. Here is a closer look at how the two options compare.

Portability

The smaller, lighter tablets are the winners for portability, as they are easier to tuck into a backpack or bag, and feel comfortable to carry throughout the day. Laptops and notebook computers tend to be bulkier, and it’s best to carry them in a laptop bag or backpack to keep them safe from damage.

Performance

Laptops take the lead in performance. They tend to be packed with more hardware, and are designed to run bigger software with ease. Larger screens and keyboard shortcuts enable you to multitask more easily. Tablets can run apps quickly, but in general, don’t have the hardware to support heavier programs such as sophisticated photo or video editors.

Available Software

Before choosing which device to use, it’s important to consider which software is available for each. Tablets are based around apps that are developed specifically for the OS on that device. It’s important to research which OS the apps you will need to use are compatible with if you are choosing between an Android tablet and an Apple tablet. Computers are designed to run programs, which often makes them the most compatible option. The increased hardware in a laptop also makes them ideal for more intensive software.

Ease of Typing

If you are thinking about doing a lot of typing for your classes or work, laptops may be the best choice for you. While you can get external keyboards for a tablet, and larger screens can give you a sizeable touch keyboard, neither option is quite as comfortable as a full-size physical keyboard built into a laptop. If typing is not much of a priority, then a tablet may be a more appealing option, as it sacrifices a keyboard for its smaller size and portability.

Storage Space

While there are some tablets available now that offer high storage options, usually laptops will have much higher storage by default. If you plan on storing a lot of photos and video on your device, be sure to consider the cost of investing in a tablet with greater storage, or consider a laptop.

Battery Life

A tablet and computer comparison is not complete without considering the battery life of each. Tablets, due to their smaller screens and less power-hungry apps tend to have longer battery life than laptops, making them a good option if you tend to be on the go throughout the day.

Cost

Laptops tend to be the more expensive option of the two, as they are designed to deliver more performance-wise. Shopping for used laptops can be a great way to make your budget go further, and get a device that offers better specifications than you could afford new. Tablets are less expensive, but can also often be found used at a great price, as new models constantly come out, leading people to upgrade and sell gently used models. Kijiji is a great place to start your search for a used tablet or laptop, as it allows you to keep your search highly specific and location-targeted.

Final Comparison:

Why choose a laptop: More storage and performance-focused hardware lets the laptop run heavier programs and deal with larger files. A built-in keyboard keeps typing comfortable. The price for a laptop can be higher for this overall better performance

Why choose a tablet: Small and lightweight, with a long-lasting battery, tablets are ideal tech to take on the go when you don’t have heavy program performance needs. Lower costs make tablets a budget-friendly option if you don’t need the performance of a laptop.

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