With the advent of powerful tablets that have been added to laptops, the differences between portable computers have blurred: both types of technology compete fiercely in the market, offering similar functions.
Laptop vs tablet
To make the right choice and decide which type of device best suits your needs, you need to compare laptops and tablets by key indicators. This will take time, but in short:
- Tablets much more mobile and better suited for light everyday tasks such as casual games, web browsing or video.
- laptops noticeably more productive than tablets due to more powerful components and offer software with maximum functionality.
In addition, laptops will be a good replacement even for a desktop computer (no tablet can do this yet) – although a desktop PC is always better in terms of performance and price.
Portability: tablets are more mobile
When it comes to portability, tablets often win. They are equipped with a display with a diagonal of 7 to 13 inches, except for large devices for professionals.
The lightest tablets with a small diagonal weigh about 200-300 g (slightly more than a large smartphone). More advanced devices, such as the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, weigh approximately 700g.
Laptop displays cover a wider range of diagonals – ranging from 10-12 to 20-21 inches. Although the main part of the models is limited to 15-17 inches. Now let’s look at the weight: a standard 15-inch device weighs about 2 kg – noticeably heavier than any tablet.
But as with display size, laptops offer more variety, so the thinnest and lightest models weigh less than 1kg while maintaining the same screen size. In contrast to them, gaming laptops sometimes reach up to 4 kg. The main reason for this is heavy and bulky, but the most efficient components with an efficient cooling system.
In any case, tablets are lighter and more compact than even the smallest laptops available on the market, so they win without a problem when it comes to portability.
Display: everyone has pluses
Speaking about the dimensions of the equipment, the screen should also be mentioned. There are two key factors to consider here: display size and resolution.
Laptops have larger screens, which gives its advantages. Working with documents or watching movies on a tablet is usually not as convenient as on a laptop.
But if we evaluate the resolution, then the small screen of the tablet offers a higher pixel density – the displayed image becomes sharper and clearer, and individual pixels cease to be distinguished by the human eye.
Like other characteristics, the quality of the screen depends on the price. The Full HD display of an affordable tablet priced under $10,000 is unlikely to be as good as a screen with the same resolution on a $50,000-60,000 laptop. But it’s still worth remembering:
Budget tablets usually offer better images than laptops of the same class due to the higher pixel density.
Drives: laptops “more capacious”
The amount of free space for storing files is another important factor that you should definitely consider when choosing portable equipment. Here, laptops almost always hold the lead..
Even the most affordable models come with a 500 GB hard drive or 128 GB solid state drive, which is much more than the internal memory of many tablets.
Tablets most often offer between 8GB and 256GB of onboard storage.although some high-end models offer storage from 512GB all the way up to 2TB (as is the case with the latest iPad Pro, for example).
But the default storage capacity isn’t everything, as expandability is worth considering. The internal memory of many tablets – with the exception of Apple models – can be increased using inexpensive memory cards microSD from 1 GB to 1 TB. The maximum size of a supported memory card varies depending on the tablet.
Laptops offer more options. Many models are equipped with a memory card reader, although this is far from the most popular type of external storage. Much more often, laptop owners create a tandem from an internal drive and external hard drivewhich gives a large amount of free space at the lowest price.
The speed of laptop drives varies greatly depending on the model, but it is usually faster than that of tablets. All this, together with the ability to upgrade internal drives, inaccessible to other devices, as well as the low price of external storage, and brings laptops to the forefront.
At the same time, a lot of internal memory may not be required to fully work with the device. For example, mobile operating systems and applications used by tablets do not take up as much space as programs and operating systems for laptops or desktop computers.
If you don’t plan to fill your tablet with numerous media files, then 32-64 GB of internal memory, combined with cloud storage, will be enough for almost any purpose.
Cameras: tablet dominance
Both tablets and laptops are equipped with built-in cameras, with tablets usually having an advantage here. They are equipped with both front and rear cameras, which take higher quality photos and videos than cameras in laptops of the same price category.
In the case of laptops, a second camera is rare. Some models are equipped with a rear sensor, but most devices have only one: the front for video calls. The recording quality of such a camera is often at a low level, especially for budget laptops.
Bottom line: Tablets offer better image quality at a lower price and are more versatile in terms of camera usage.
But before buying, you should remember that only the most expensive tablets have cameras that are comparable in level to at least middle-class smartphones.
Battery Life: Tablets last longer
A portable device must have a long service life without recharging, otherwise the benefits of its mobility will simply come to naught.
- Tablets usually withstand 8 to 12 hours of active work without additional charging.
- laptops more energy intensive. Many high performance models will last only 2-3 hours on a single charge, although devices like ultrabooks are designed for 8-9 hours of battery life and more, compared with tablets in this regard.
Why does a tablet battery usually last longer? There are several reasons for this.
Tablets use processors based on the ARM architecture, which do not consume as much power as laptop CPUs. In addition, ARM-based solutions generate less heat, which makes them an excellent choice for smartphones and tablets, which cannot be placed inside an active cooling system.
It also plays a role that mobile tablet operating systems (especially iPadOS) are well optimized and do not require as much power as a full-fledged PC OS.
The battery life of your laptop will increase if you turn on the power saving mode. This will reduce the brightness of the display and limit the performance of the device.
Nevertheless, the advantage in this category should be given to tablets – the average model will last longer than most laptops without additional “tricks”.
Performance: laptops are more powerful
The issue of performance mainly depends on the cost of the device (more precisely, its components) and the purposes for which it is purchased. Working with e-mail, browsing social networks or videos do not require a lot of computing power, so any modern tablet or laptop can handle them equally well.
The situation becomes more complicated when you need to do the “hard” work associated with multitasking or graphics processing.
The performance of budget tablets is about the level of laptops in the same category. But the gap between the two types of devices is widening as the cost of models rises.
The small physical dimensions of the tablet do not allow you to place high-performance components inside the case, and the installed processors offer less performance than laptop CPUs. Because of this tablets are not suitable for resource-intensive tasks. In addition, they are more difficult to upgrade or repair – this is due not only to the form factor, but also to the tightly closed case.
The most productive laptops are comparable to desktops, and fast gaming models or workstations are equipped with a discrete graphics card, which you will not find on tablets. Although the cost of a laptop, of course, will be noticeably higher than that of a stationary PC of similar power.
If you take affordable gadgets that will only be used for multimedia and simple games, then a tablet may be a better option than a budget laptop. In all other cases laptops lead the way: they offer top performance.
Operating systems and software: tablet apps are limited
In addition to the hardware differences between the two types of devices, software should also be considered. Most tablets run Android or iPadOS.
Laptops use the same operating systems as desktop computers: Windows, macOS, and Linux. Moreover, Windows is also very popular among hybrid models – transformer laptops that can turn into a tablet.
Without going into details of the differences between individual operating systems, let’s focus on the key differences between mobile and desktop OS. The most important:
- Mobile operating systems are better optimized and easier to use.
- Desktop OSes offer more features and access to a wider range of powerful software, including professional apps like Photoshop, which are almost never found on mobile devices.
An important reason why many people choose laptops or desktops over tablets is the limitations of mobile operating systems.
If a desktop or laptop application is available on the mobile side, it is almost guaranteed that it will lack some of the features offered in the full version of the program. This is due to the low hardware capabilities of tablets.
The victory in this category goes to more advanced and functional operating systems for laptops and desktop computers.
But the final choice still depends on the user: if he needs programs that are compatible only with a specific operating system.
Interface: laptops offer more
Laptops mostly rely on a built-in physical keyboard and touchpad, so they are more suitable for people who type a lot. At the same time, they support all peripheral devices that work with desktop computers.
The owner of the laptop will be able to use a mouse or gamepad – if there are the right connectors. Many laptops are also compatible with wireless peripherals, including game controllers.
By default, tablet input is available only through the touch screen and virtual keyboard, which causes problems when typing a serious array of text. Most models support Bluetooth keyboards – they are just for those who do not like to type using a touch screen. But the external BT keyboard is inferior to the laptop keyboard due to its smaller size and limited number of keys.
Mouse support for tablets is less common. Do not forget that the purchase of additional peripherals increases costs and adversely affects the main advantage of tablets – portability.
Hybrid tablets come with detachable keyboard, which has the same drawbacks as any external one, losing to full-fledged options in laptops. Even more blurring the difference between tablets and laptops are the touch screen laptops also on the market.
When it comes to work efficiency, mouse and keyboard control is second to none. Nevertheless, it is impossible to give a clear victory to any of the types of devices.
Both standard input from a laptop and control via a touch screen have their own advantages and disadvantages.
The first way is faster and more accurate, touch control is more intuitive and clearer. It all depends on what the technique is used for, and our verdict: a draw.
Connections and communication: user decides
All modern laptops are equipped with Bluetooth modules and Wi-Fi, but few models also support mobile communications.
In terms of available connectors, the situation is very different. Advanced large case laptops usually offer all portsfound on desktop motherboards (for budget models, this set, of course, is much more modest):
- analog audio jacks
- Ethernet for connecting to the Internet via cable
- HDMI for outputting images to an external monitor and others
Tablets also support Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and many models offer cellular connectivity for calls or Internet access outside of Wi-Fi networks.
As for the wired connection, most cheap devices still use the outdated Micro-USB interface. Apple’s iPad line supports its own Lighting connector, but new models from other manufacturers use the more common USB-C instead of the listed ports.
There is no clear winner in this category, as the importance of supporting specific ports depends entirely on your needs.
Device cost: Tablets are cheaper, but not always better
There are tablets on the market at a price of 5-8 thousand rubles, while the cost of the most affordable laptops starts from 10-12 thousand.
At the other end of the price range are high-end tablets costing around 70-80 thousand rubles – with the exception of specialized devices for professionals or even more expensive hybrid models. The average laptop is estimated at 40-60 thousand, but gaming laptops are already counting hundreds, and in rare cases the price tag goes beyond half a million rubles.
In addition to being cheaper in general, tablets generally perform better than the cheapest laptop. This should be remembered by users with a very limited budget.
The exact opposite is true among expensive devices: high-end tablets perform worse than a laptop at the same price.
What type of device will end up being the best choice? It depends on the tasks that the user sets for the technique.
Tablets are compact and portable, boast excellent battery life and – depending on the model – a better display than what you get with an entry-level laptop. That’s why Tablets are suitable in the following cases:
- When you need a simple device – only for undemanding games, web browsing, reading e-books and listening to music.
- If you need a portable multimedia gadget on the road – due to the smaller weight and size, the tablet is much easier to carry around than a laptop. At the same time, for long-distance business trips, a more functional laptop is still preferable.
- Professionals involved in drawing with a stylus – the touch screen of the tablet will be a good field for creative activity.
- In cases where there is no smartphone nearby, the tablet is able to receive calls. In addition, with its help it is convenient to conduct video conferences and communicate via the Internet.
- Tablets are clearer and more accessible in terms of control, so they are great for children or those who do not want to seriously get acquainted with technology.
And vice versa, laptops are the best choiceif:
- Multitasking is planned, including the launch of demanding professional applications for designing or editing graphics. In these cases, the user will need a workstation.
- A person is interested in modern games – gaming laptops can not only replace a desktop computer, but also become the main gaming platform. In addition, the connection of controllers is always available: a gamepad or steering wheel for racing.
- The user is going to type a lot. Although the tablet pairs with a Bluetooth keyboard, which makes typing much easier, the larger display model is more convenient, especially for multi-window work.
- You need equipment that works with auxiliary devices: the laptop has more ports and is better adapted to work with various peripherals.
If you can only buy one mid-range device, then a laptop is better. A laptop of this class costs less than a flagship tablet, but offers much more features.
Convertible laptops are also sold that can work in tablet mode – a good but expensive way to get the best out of both devices.
The best option is to choose the right technique based on its focus on solving specific problems.