By Randy Dagnon, Technical Support, WRLS
Tablet computers are the hot thing these days. They are flying off the shelves and the demand just keeps on growing. But is a tablet right for you? As with most purchases, which product best suits your needs should be the driving factor in your decision. And computer use can be classified into two categories, content consumption or content creation.
The best way for me to define these terms is through examples. Streaming music and video, email, updating your Facebook account, and checking movie listings on the web are examples of content consumption. Using a tablet for that type of usage, while possible on most any computer, is very convenient when the other advantages of a tablet are taken into consideration.
Content creation, on the other hand, would be something like editing family videos into a movie, Photoshopping all your old pictures, writing a term paper or crunching numbers for the company budget. While tasks like these may be accomplished on a tablet, “difficult, cumbersome and awkward” would be good adjectives to describe the task.
Advantages of a tablet compared to a laptop:
- Size and weight- this is the biggie. With most tablets having screen sizes in the 7” to 10” range and weighing in at less than a pound and a half, tablets are extremely portable.
- Portability. A tablet is easy to carry around and ideal for tasks such as passing around among friends to share pictures of the new grandkids.
- A tablet can be laid flat on a working surface.
- Longer battery life.
- Faster start up and resume times.
- Cost. The most popular tablets run from less than $200 to around $700.
Advantages of a laptop compared to a tablet:
- While a tablet’s small screen is a plus when it comes to portability, for some users it may not be large enough. With up to a 17-inch display on a laptop you see more of what you want to see with less scrolling.
- Data storage. Tablets don’t have built in optical or hard drives and some don’t even have USB ports to connect external storage.
- Horsepower under the hood. Even with dual and quad core processing, tablets aren’t competitive with the CPU, memory, and graphics processor in most laptops.
- Physical keyboard. No one is going to want to write the next great American novel with an on-screen keyboard.
So what works best for you? Again, it comes down to what your computing needs are and what features are or are not important to you; but for many it isn’t an either-or decision. Recent surveys are showing that many tablet purchasers have also purchased a new computer in the two years prior to buying their tablet. In a survey of 1430 tablet owners by AdMob, 77 percent reported that once they bought one, use of their primary PC dropped. Use did not disappear entirely, but was just less frequent.