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If you’re tired of lugging around your laptop and tablet everywhere you go -- or admiring your buddy’s new tablet -- you might be wondering: Can a tablet PC simply replace your laptop?
The short answer is: It depends. There’s no doubt that tablets are lighter and have a longer battery life than most laptops. On the other hand, tablets can tie the hands of power users who need to get more demanding work -- like creating content -- done on the go.
To figure out what’s right for you, here’s what to consider before you buy a tablet or leave your laptop behind for good:
- Are you all about apps and/or Apple? Did you get in line at 4 a.m. for the latest iPad? In this case, your iPad may already be replacing your laptop. iPads already have a built-in ecosystem of apps, which devotees love. “Right now, if I get something on my iPhone, I can use it on my iPad as well (most of the time),” says software engineer Daniel Elswick.
- Are you a content creator? Says Peter Christy, principal analyst at the Internet Research Group : “Whether or not a tablet is the right solution depends on how much content you create. For a writer, a PC with a keyboard is clearly better. Most executives are mostly information consumers (information ‘snackers,’ as some call it) and are happy to be forced to relatively terse email replies via a tablet.”
- What’s your email style? Thinking about your email style before getting rid of your laptop is also essential, he notes. “Women in general treat email differently and think a lot about many of the messages they send (tone, completeness, balance). This biases them toward the use of a laptop.”
If you’re considering replacing your laptop with a tablet, here are some other pros and cons to consider:
Pros of Tablets
- Portability: They’re lighter and smaller than your laptop, which makes them ideal for travel. Plus, it’s easy to pass a tablet around at a party to show the latest YouTube video, your vacation photos or your Facebook status update.
- Battery life: Impressive battery life.
- Fast boot-up: They wake up much more rapidly and are much easier to use compared to opening and activating a laptop.
- Versatility: Doctors now use them for inputting patient information. Some restaurants are passing out tablets instead of menus (though that move is getting mixed reviews).
Cons of Tablets
- Keyboard: Typing for an extended period of time on a tablet is not ideal because it’s a touchscreen, not a real keyboard.
- Limited software selection
- Small screen
- No built-in CD or DVD drive
- iPad Con: No USB port. Apple claims you don’t need a USB port, but some think it’s a huge inconvenience. (This is only an iPad con, because other tablets have USB ports.)
The biggest thing to keep in mind is that somebody doesn’t have to decide between a tablet and a laptop. It doesn’t have to be either/or -- many people are still settling for both. You just need to pick the right tool for the job … and have the biceps to cart around both if you need to.
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