Choosing Between a Laptop, Tablet and Convertible Laptop

Pros & Cons: Choosing between a Laptop, Tablet and Convertible Laptop

With so many portable computer variations on the market — laptops, tablets and convertibles — there’s a perfect form factor for everyone. Here’s a quick look at the pros and cons of each option.


Benefits: With the ability to run higher-powered and full-featured applications like Microsoft® Office and other business software, laptops are essentially portable versions of more traditional desktop computers. With enough processing power, laptops can easily play videos and music, and accommodate light gaming. And most models come with plenty of USB, HDMI and other ports, so you can connect external monitors easily and accommodate projectors for presentations. If you use your computer mainly for word processing, accounting and bill paying, spreadsheets and web browsing, a laptop is a good choice. The same is true if you need to work while on the road.

Drawbacks: Laptops have gotten much lighter, but the average 13-inch model still weighs in between 3.5 and 4 pounds. Nothing when you’re walking down the hall, but every pound counts when schlepping through the airport or subway. Even the lightest laptops are too heavy to hold for long with one hand, and function best on a stable, flat surface. With more moving parts than tablets, there’s more in a laptop that can break (though reliability is very good). A few laptops come with touch-screen capability, but that can mean a higher price tag.


Benefits: Tablets’ light weight (less than 1.75 pounds) makes them easy to slip into a bag or to hold in various positions. And when it comes to ease of use, the touch-screen tablet almost always wins out. They are perfect for web browsing, reading, running the apps you love on your smart phone, and playing some games like Words with Friends. Tablets also are an effective option for product demonstrations and handling light business tasks like bookkeeping or checking email.

Drawbacks: Tablets’ superb portability comes at a cost in terms of computing power. Most tablets have less than 1GB of RAM, meaning they can’t effectively do more than one thing at a time. Heavy-duty data crunching or video/music-editing isn’t recommended on tablets, and the up- and download speeds for large files can be problematic. Tablets require frequent updating to keep apps current and functioning properly. And it’s no fun doing a lot of typing on a tablet without an external wireless keyboard. Another drawback: most tablets lack USB and HDMI ports.

Convertible Laptops

Benefits: Mixing the best of both worlds, convertibles have the utility of laptops and the ease-of-use of tablets. They come in many different designs, such as screens that bend all the way back or spin around 180 degrees into a tablet mode, and others with keyboards that detach entirely. The displays are always touch screens, and their full-sized keyboards let you comfortably work on longer documents and other keyboard-intensive projects. Their processing speeds and computing power are similar to those of traditional laptops.

Drawbacks: There’s often a price premium for the enhanced versatility. Heavier than tablets and some laptops, convertibles weigh between 2.5 and 4 pounds and can be clunky and awkward to use. The additional moving parts can break without careful use and care; and removable keyboards can be lost or dropped. Consider warranty terms and repair/replacement costs carefully.

Before you buy:

  1. Give each product type a spin.
  2. Review the technical specs to make sure the device has the power to do what you need it to.
  3. Check out the weight and do some typing on each to check out the comfort of each form factor.
  4. Create a short list of acceptable options.
  5. Read user reviews and talk to friends and colleagues about their experiences.

Factoring in all these considerations is the best way to find the perfect laptop, tablet or convertible laptop for your business.

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