Laptop or tablet; How do they compare and which one should you buy?

Laptop or tablet; How do they compare and which one should you buy?

When Microsoft released its very own Surface Pro 3 in June of 2014, the computer and IT solutions giant made quite a bold claim, saying their tablet can replace your laptop. Is this really true? Are tablets really catching up to the productivity and practicality race? Here at Dual Monitors Guide, we will dig deeper to this match up, weigh their pros and cons, and ultimately help you find out which one will suit you best.

With tons of gadget choices out there today, it can be difficult for anyone to decide on which to put their money. Laptops and tablets are two of the most popular choices among different groups of users and demographics, most likely because both provide specialized experience to their users.

Defining the Two


Laptop or tablet; How do they compare and which one should you buy?

(image from Amazon)

Laptops are defined as mobile personal computers, a device where you can perform all the things you do on your desktop PC, but in a compact, light and mobile fashion. Over the years, they have become smaller and lighter, but made quite significant improvements in terms of power, performance and overall functionality. Many users prefer laptops as it provides convenience in mobility and flexibility. It’s still the better choice for heavy researching, hardcore gamers, and presentation arrangements and creation.



Laptop or tablet; How do they compare and which one should you buy?

(image from Amazon)

Tablets     on the other hand, are presently the pinnacle of mobile technology. They are handy, extremely easy to carry, lightweight and compact. They’re like a cross between your smartphone and computer ( but in a lesser sense), as they don’t have the processing power and optimum performance of a laptop. They can do a lot of things, and provide a lot of convenience for on-the-go users. But their computing capability and functionality is very limited. They can however, be sufficient for some users, particularly those who simply browse the web casually, play lightweight games or flash games.


A Test of True Productivity

To compare even further, let’s look at their specs.



To start with, let’s tackle the obvious facts; both devices offer great portability, making them the best tools for people who are always on-the-go. Of course, software developers, professional video editors, graphic designers, photographers, serious gamers, and everyone who demands performance and power, should still stick with the no-compromise mobile device – the laptop. Until tablets can match laptop’s performance, power, and keyboard responsiveness, fully support featured applications, and run heavy game titles, the physical specifications don’t matter.

However this is not to say that tablets are not on their way to catch up. The way new models are heading, they’re surely on its way to offer better performance and productivity. Let’s have a closer look of the two.

Winner: Laptop, via unanimous decision



This is quite obvious, even for casual users. The less RAM capacity a device has, the more likely it will need to throw old info from its memory. You can notice this when you try to return to old browsing tab or jump from your email to a game app. Devices with less RAM will need to refresh more often. Though this can be a minor issue for regular users, it can be a very irritating to avid multi-taskers.

Laptop or tablet; How do they compare and which one should you buy?

(image from Amazon)

Apple MacBook Pro MGX92LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop with Retina Display for example, sports a whopping 8GB RAM and run at 2.8 GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i5 Processor, making it efficiently fast performance.

Laptop or tablet; How do they compare and which one should you buy?

(image from Amazon)

Some tablets, now come with 1GB, very few brands offer 2GB RAM. The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 however, sports a 4GB RAM, which what most laptops have today. However, it’s nothing special, as flash memory can help out when RAM struggles, though slower.

Winner: Laptop, via majority decision



Laptop or tablet; How do they compare and which one should you buy?

(image from Amazon)

Internal storage is one of the most important aspects in choosing a portable device, as it determines how much information (data) you can put (or cram) into it, from high definition videos, movies, songs, photos, etc.

Most tablets today come with 16GB to 64GB storage capacity. Some models even come with 128GB, 256GB up to a whopping 512GB. Of course, you have to pay extra for this storage space, Surface Pro 3 for example, goes around $2000.

Laptops these days on the other hand, comes with 512GB to 1TB (1024GB) as standard storage space size for under $1000. For these devices, more storage comes practically free.

Laptop or tablet; How do they compare and which one should you buy?

(image from Amazon)

HP Envy 15.6-inch for example, sports 1TB hard drive, with excellent specs and tons of great features to offer such as Beats Audio system.

The tablet may say that everything you put on your device is going to the ‘Cloud storage’ anyway, so who needs more than 64GB of space, when you can easily get 10 times that for a reasonable price per month?

The truth of the matter is that, consumers are simply not that disciplined. Many don’t like the idea of paying a month, while some simply doesn’t trust the Cloud. Consumers still choose devices where they can just dump their photos, videos, or save their whole music collection without too much thinking – a basic problem with tablets.


Winner: Laptop, via unanimous decision

Display Quality

Laptop or tablet; How do they compare and which one should you buy?

(image from Amazon)

As you can see in the match up so far, specs have not been kind for tablet, as it simply falls short to match laptop in all three important categories: Power/Performance, RAM and Storage. But in all fairness, we’ve been still playing on laptop’s strengths, and this category might just turn the table around a little.

Let’s take a closer look at pixel density in popular tablet models today. Since 2013, the average display for a tablet is at 218 pixels/inch, which results to crisp image quality, lively and vivid colors of 7×11 inches, diagonally. Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.4, Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4, Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 (2014) and Asus Nexus 7 (2nd Gen 4G) are just the few of the many tablet models with excellent display quality.

In terms of laptops as of 2014, the average pixel density per inch is only at 116, which offers nothing special.

It’s clear that the 218 pixels/inch smokes the 116 pixels/inch easily, which is a bit unfair, considering the larger screens in laptops, which needs less density to provide achieve display quality. Even when we factor typical screen size (13-inch laptop vs. 9-inch tablet), tablet still wins easily. Of course, pricey laptops such as MacBook Pro with Retina Display are a different story.


Winner: Tablet, via unanimous decision (wide margin)

Battery Life

Battery life differs from one brand and model to another, making it a big harder to assess. For comparing, we can use mAH or miliampere-hours as a good indicator, especially for comparing smartphones, as they essentially come in the same shape and size. But when comparing tablets and laptops, the indicator can vary significantly. A 15-inch laptop computer definitely needs more battery than a 7-inch tablet.

Thus, at the end of the day, the best comparison point we can use is simply the vendor-reported battery life. Yes it’s not perfect, as manufacturer measure methods differently, and many factors can vary. Nevertheless, vendors are willing to standby these numbers.

The average laptop’s battery life is about 6 hours (this is according to manufacturers). There are a few standouts though, such as Lenovo ThinkPad X240, which can last up to 17 hours.

Tablets on the other hand, can average up to 10 hours. It’s important to note that 10 hours is the most common brand-reported battery life for tablets. This is probably because they know they should hit the 10-hour mark. Either way, the gap is already big enough to give tablets the victory.


Winner: Tablet, via TKO


Laptop or tablet; How do they compare and which one should you buy?

Connectivity and port options are probably the last thing we think about when choosing a mobile device, and usually the first problem that comes up when we get at home.

Since the original iPad first introduced in the market, tablets certainly have come a long way, as they feature nothing more than 30-pin charge point. However, they still can’t match the connectivity options in laptops.

Virtually speaking, each and every laptop today (those released in 2013 to 2014), comes with a USB port, while very few tablet models come with USB ports. Similarly, most laptops come with HDMI ports, which is a very important connectivity option for productivity (makes dual monitor laptop setup a lot easier, and projector display convenient), while very few tablets have this feature.

Basically, standard printers and projectors will work easily with your laptop, and will rarely work with tablets. This can be a big problem for professionals and business-minded individuals.


Laptop or tablet; How do they compare and which one should you buy?

(image from Amazon)

Companies have built different workarounds for their tablet products, iPad for example, has Apple TV, while Nexus has Chromecast. However, neither of them offers the same reliability as plugging a Lenovo ThinkPad to an HP LaserJet printer.

The closest thing tablet can provide is the micro-USB port, which is available in many various models from different manufacturing brands. Though that’s a progress, it still can’t compare to the good old USB port.


Winner: Laptops, via KO


Verdict: Laptop is the clear winner, but Tablet is surely on its way to catch up

Winning 4/6 categories, laptop is the clear winner – for now. The tablet failed to compete in some categories, but it is certainly on its way to significant progress, Over the past couple of years, we have witnessed great improvement.

Tablet is now riding its edge on battery life, while banking on new technologies, such as Cloud Storage for storage space, Chromecast and Airplay for better streaming. We may have to wait for more developments.

So what’s your best bet?

When choosing between the two, there is not necessarily a winner, as there is only a more preferable choice to suit your specific needs. Both of these mobile devices provide great convenience for on-the-go use. The most effective for you will be based on things you wish to do with the device.


Making the Choice

Know what you need, consider the tasks imperative with the device.

This is probably the most obvious deciding factor, but many people skip this, thinking they simply need the latest device with the fanciest features and tons of bells and whistles to do everything they wish to do with the device. The last thing you want is to use a device not suitable for your needs, as it can be counterproductive for your intended purpose.

If you use specific programs, you make presentations for business meetings, make graphic designs, edit photos and videos, engage in heavy research for work or academics, play heavy title games, or the like, then you most likely will need the laptop. Laptop is still the best option for workstations as they come with many different connectivity options, which means using it for work and having dual monitor or even multiple monitor setup would be easy.

On the other hand, if you travel a lot, love to read ebooks, listen to music and watch some videos and movies, play light games, check your email and social media accounts, chat with your friends, while en route to your next destination, then a tablet is the more practical choice.

Consider your budget.

There are tons of choices out there, and their prices vary widely in their specs and performance. Before you jump in your search, define how much you are willing to spend for your mobile device. Tablets are light, compact and very easy to carry around, but they lack the functionality and versatility, and they tend to be much cheaper.

Look for something that gives “more bang for your buck.” If you’re simply a casual user, then a laptop with decent performance and good internet browsing would suffice. If you work on your laptop on a daily basis, then choose something that is tailor-made for your line of work.

All in all, there are no right and wrong answers, just smartly made purchases.

For more workstation tips like this, reviews of computer solutions and ergonomic products, check out Dual Monitors Guide today!

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