I recently got my hands on a Tablet. Before you ask, no it’s not the medicinal type. Rather, it was a tablet running Android 5.1 Lollipop. Despite the somewhat outdated operating system on it, it seemed to handle routine tasks quite well. After playing around with it for a few days, I soon began carrying out tasks that I would usually carry out on my phone or laptop, on this device. These tasks included taking notes, checking social media and even watching videos. This got me thinking: can a tablet replace what you can do with a laptop and a smartphone?
The answer to this is a tad on the tricky side. For starters, we must understand what a tablet can and cannot do. In its base form, this is essentially an oversized Android smartphone. They both have similar features such as a touch screen interface, hardware buttons, expandable storage, a camera for taking a quick pic and video and even the ability to take calls via a SIM card.
Leaving all that aside, let’s take a look at the pros of using a tablet verses a smartphone or a laptop.
Bigger is better
A tablet generally has a larger screen that a phone. This makes it easier to do almost anything that a phone can do such as reading and replying to emails, watching videos on Netflix or YouTube, using productivity apps to view graphs, charts and documents, and to even play games. Because of their mobility and lightness, they outdo a laptop in terms of weight so you don’t have to lug around a charger and laptop either.
Tablets have optimized apps
Have you noticed that running Google Chrome on a tablet and running Google chrome on a smartphone are two different experiences? While running the browser on a smartphone gives you a more cut down or “optimized” view, using Google Chrome on a tablet actually gives you an experience that is similar to the full desktop experience. You get easier tab management just as you would on a laptop or desktop and the browser just looks like it’s a smaller version of the desktop version which appeal to many people.
If you work with image manipulation tools such as Adobe Photoshop or create images and graphs using tools such as Canva, then a laptop or desktop would be better, right? Well, while a laptop or desktop would provide all the tools that you need and don’t need as well, Android and iOS apps of these tools are also available.
Granted they don’t offer all the bells and whistles that the desktop versions offer, but if you’re looking to do a few touch ups in Photoshop or to make some posts or even a presentation in Canva, then the extra real estate that a tablet has will trump what you can do with a smartphone as well.
A Tablet last longer
Because of their somewhat smaller footprint, a tablet will pretty much have a better battery life than a laptop. This is because a tablet has more efficient hardware when compared to a laptop. Because it doesn’t draw as much power as a laptop and also has a smaller screen, a tablet can maintain more charge than a laptop. On the other hand, though, there are laptops with larger battery capacity but they tend to cost quite a bit more as well.
A Tablet costs less
If you’re using a Tablet for your everyday needs, then you don’t exactly need to fork over your fortune plus a kidney to pay for one. A mid-range tab will cost you around half of what a laptop would cost you. However, it should be noted that the use of a tab is subjective to what you’re doing. For example, if you’re using an Apple iPad and using Garage Band or a similar app to mix audio soundtracks, you might find that easier to do on the iPad when compared to setting up a laptop or desktop to record or mix audio.
Conversely, there are things that a tablet cannot do. Let’s have a look at some of them below.
A tablet cannot run large processes
If you’re running an app that requires a significant amount of processing power or is just resource heavy such as editing posts on WordPress, then a laptop or desktop would certainly be better. We’ve had our share of editing articles and posts on the go and we can certainly attest that while a smartphone or tablet provides the convenience of simply logging in and making a few changes, if you’re looking to carry out more extensive tasks, you’re better off with a laptop.
Less space for your files
There’s no way to get around it. A tab has significantly less storage space when compared to a laptop. While most tablets have 16/32GB of storage space and a maximum of perhaps 128GB of internal storage, a laptop will have upwards of 500GB and sometimes even the ability to add an additional hard drive for more storage.
Even though USB OTG (On-the-go) is certainly an option for Android tablets, that also means you would need external storage devices such as a flash drive or portable hard drive to connect to the device. With a laptop, you have none of that hassle.
They get outdated fast
So you bought a tablet a year ago. You also bought a laptop a year ago. While your laptop can be updated to run the latest version of Microsoft Windows, the same cannot be said for a tablet. Even with Google’s practice of two years of updates for Pixel and Nexus devices, most tablets will run either Android 5.1 Lollipop or if you’re lucky, Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
This in turn means that they are not upto date with the latest security patches and system features. Even if you want to root your device and install a custom operating system, depending on the tablet that you possess, you might not be able to do that either.
Bigger isn’t always better
Remember how having a large screen was a pro for a tablet, when compared to a smartphone? Well, that is exactly it’s Achilles’ heel. While the large screen makes viewing files and videos easier, answering phone calls on it is not exactly a viable option. One might argue that you can use a pair of earphones with a microphone to answer calls, still, lugging around a tablet is a more hassling task than answering calls on a smartphone
In fact, it appears that the sale of tablets is on the decline because smartphones are getting almost phablet level displays that are also of a much higher quality, and also that laptops are getting lighter and more powerful as well. This in turn cuts out the middleman (AKA the tablet).
A tablet: To buy or not to buy?
Well, that is entirely up to you to decide. I, for one, typed a majority of this document on said tablet that was mentioned earlier. It was saved to my Google Drive account and I could simply login from my desktop and carry on as if nothing had changed. So your work involves a lot of documents, taking notes and generally organizing your life.
You can’t be bothered to lug around a laptop and you are looking for something larger than a smartphone? Then a tablet might be just the thing for you. If you have the cash to splash, you can even get a slightly high end tablet and use it for you to collaborate via Skype as well.
On the other hand if you are dealing with a lot of apps and tools that require all the bells and whistles of a desktop experience, then a laptop would suit you better than a tablet. They tend to be a lot more powerful, have more storage options and also give you a better overall experience as well.
Own a laptop? Use a tablet? Own both? Leave a comment on what you prefer to work on in the comments section below.