Laptop or Tablet? Choosing and Buying A New Computer

By Paul Riegler on 24 April 2011
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Every day, the line between a tablet and a laptop computer seemingly blurs more and more.  If you’re in the market for a new computer right now, what should you get?

Reading a compute magazine or blog today might lead you to think that tablets have fully supplanted laptops, but that’s far from the truth.  (Ironically, one would have said the same thing about netbooks two years ago, yet today they are hardly given a second glance.)

A laptop, at least today, is quite different than a tablet and, despite the sex appeal of the latter, it is capable of doing a lot more.

Laptop computers have real keyboards, massive hard drives, plenty of ports, and far more raw computing power than any tablet.  They run real applications, not just apps, which while useful don’t always meet one’s business and personal needs.

On the other hand, tablets are lightweight, ultra portable, turn on and off instantly (at least the new iPad 2 does), and can run (in some cases) hundreds of thousands of apps (there are over 60,000 iPad-optimized apps alone).  They also have far better battery life.  The new Apple iPad 2 (which we reviewed last month) turns on and off instantly with its Smart Cover and has a battery that really lasts for 10 hours.  It’s also one-third thinner and 15% lighter than the original iPad.

Blurring the lines further, laptops such as the MacBook Air from Apple and the Windows 7 Samsung Series 9 start almost instantly and have solid-state drives, making them more like tablets.  Expect to see operating systems from Microsoft and Apple which make laptops more tablet like in look and feel as well.

For most people, however, tablets are supplementing, not replacing, a laptop (or desktop) computer.  They’re great for travel if you don’t have to type very much, good for reading books, magazines, and newspapers, and superb for browsing Web pages.  However, when it comes to traditional productivity tools, the lack of a real keyboard and the benefits of a larger display will make the advantage of a laptop computer (even a small one with an 11” display) crystal clear.

Click here to continue to Page 2 -Buying a Tablet and Buying a Laptop

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