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Should you replace your laptop with a tablet?

If you don’t want to swap over to a full-blown tablet from a laptop, consider trying a 2-in-1 computer, which is a laptop with a detachable or flippable touchscreen display.
If you don’t want to swap over to a full-blown tablet from a laptop, consider trying a 2-in-1 computer, which is a laptop with a detachable or flippable touchscreen display. (BestReviews)

Tablet vs. laptop

As tablets continue to make advancements in the power they offer and in the features they have, you may consider replacing a laptop with a tablet. Even if you typically use a laptop for all your computing work, the latest designs in tablets may allow you to continue working as efficiently as you do with a laptop.

Tablets certainly have quite a few advantages over laptops, but drawbacks also exist. Here are some ideas you can use to determine whether a tablet will meet your computing needs better than a laptop.

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Advantages of tablets over laptops

Desirable price

When looking at purchasing a new laptop, you may have a bit of sticker shock. A high-quality business laptop, such as the HP EliteBook x360, can run nearly $2,000. However, you can find a high-end tablet, such as the Apple iPad Air, for far less than $1,000, saving you quite a bit of money.

You can even find budget-priced tablets for as little as a few hundred dollars or less, such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7. You won't find a new laptop in that price range.

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Lightweight design

Tablets are ideal for those who often are working on the go and who don’t want to lug a heavy laptop with them. A standard tablet may weigh about one-third to one-half that of a standard laptop.

A laptop weighs more than a tablet in part because it includes a built-in keyboard. If you want to add a portable Bluetooth keyboard to your tablet so you can type on it comfortably, this adds to the overall weight of the package, giving it less of an advantage over a laptop.

More versatile connectivity options

With a tablet, you can purchase models that work only on WiFi or that work over a cellular network and a WiFi network. Laptops cannot connect to a cellular network without special hardware.

Being able to work directly off a cellular network is a major benefit if you often work outside your office in locations where public WiFi is not available.

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You need to purchase a cellular subscription with your tablet to make this feature work. With a tablet like the Samsung Galaxy Tab A, you can select a model that matches the cellular network you use.

Great for entertainment

When you want a screen the kids can use for simple games and watching movies, a tablet's design is far more convenient than the laptop. For this purpose, the Apple iPad Pro is a great choice — it has a large screen available, measuring 12.9 inches diagonally.

Additionally, the tablet starts up almost instantly, versus a laptop that takes 30 seconds or more to boot. (When the kids are screaming about watching a movie, every second counts!)

Advantages of laptops over tablets

For some people, the advantages of a laptop simply outweigh even the highest-quality tablets. Here are some items to pay attention to when considering a laptop instead of a tablet.

Computing power

For those who need to run complex software or to crunch a lot of data, a tablet simply isn’t going to contain the same level of computing power of even an average laptop. If you go with a high-end laptop, you have an impressive level of computing power.

If you want to play games on the computer, tablets work fine for simple web-based games. However, for serious gamers, the graphics processing power required for clean gameplay requires a powerful gaming laptop instead of a tablet.

Comfortable for typing

Laptops with built-in keyboards create a comfortable option for typing, as they often have full-size keyboards.

With a tablet, you either must type on a virtual keyboard on the tablet’s display screen, or you need to purchase a portable keyboard that you can attach. However, these keyboards simply don’t match the performance found in a built-in laptop keyboard for those who must type a lot.

More local storage

Oftentimes, a tablet has an extremely limited amount of storage space available, usually around 64GB or 128GB. Laptops, meanwhile, can have built-in hard drives of 512GB or 1TB in size, giving you far more storage space.

It's easier to attach an external hard drive or a USB thumb drive with 1TB or more of storage to a laptop to expand its storage capacity. Adding external hard drives to tablets doesn't always work, because tablets don't always have extra USB ports available.

One workaround for those with limited storage in a tablet is to take advantage of cloud storage, which means you’ll be storing your data in a remote location called the cloud. You can access your data in the cloud any time you have a connection to the internet.

Best candidates for switching to a tablet

Here are some of the people and use cases that receive the biggest benefit from replacing a laptop with a tablet.

  • Web users: If you do the majority of your work through web apps, on internet-based video conferences and by visiting websites, a tablet easily handles this type of work. These items don't require the processing power of a laptop.
  • Worries about repairs: Tablets are far less complex pieces of tech than laptops. This means the tablet has fewer components that could break or malfunction, giving you the peace of mind of having a piece of hardware that will be working for you, rather than potentially in the repair shop.
  • Artists: With the touchscreen of a tablet, people who like to do freehand drawing can purchase a stylus and use the touchscreen like a piece of paper or a canvas, creating artwork easier than on a non-touchscreen tablet.
  • Students: For a high school or college student who needs to carry a computer in a backpack to and from class, a tablet's lightweight design is easier to carry than a laptop. A student who must type a lot may really need a laptop and its built-in keyboard, though.

Kyle Schurman is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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