Tablets vs Laptops

Tablets vs Laptops: All You Need to Know Before Buying in 2021

Not sure which tablet or laptop is best for your needs? We compared the main features, analyzed the differences, and identified the pros and cons of each device. After reading the article, you will be able to make an informed and easy choice.

We are here to answer which is better: laptop or tablet? Technology has evolved a lot in recent years, and a tablet is no longer just a big smartphone, but can it replace a traditional laptop? 

In any case, for all the similarities, they are designed for different tasks. And since there is no perfect device for everyone, you need to analyze how you plan to use the device and understand the pros and cons of each. 

So, let’s figure out for whom and for what tasks a tablet is best suited, and for whom a laptop. After reading our article, you will easily and reasonably make the right choice. Let’s go!

Acer Swift 3Microsoft Surface Pro 7Fire HD 8 tablet
Acer Swift 3Microsoft Surface Pro 7Fire HD 8 tablet
Best Laptop for Business, Study, and EntertainmentBest Desktop Replacement
Tablet-to-Laptop Versatility
Best Budget Tablet for Casual Use

Tablet vs Laptop at a glance:

The tablet is right for you
You need an easy-to-use device for basic tasks and entertainment. Your daily needs: social networks, checking email, chatting on messengers, watching videos, movies, listening to music, reading e-books, etc.
The laptop is right for you
You need a portable and high-performance device. You use it for work, study, content creation, design, photo/video editing, gaming, or special software.

👀But, it would be too easy 

There are 2-in-1 convertibles that combine the functionality of both tablets and laptops, there are also ultraportable and high performance tablet PCs that can almost function like full-fledged laptops, but such a tablet will be more expensive. So the formula “a laptop for work and a tablet for entertainment” is not always correct. 

Considering all of the above the decision is harder than ever before. We conducted extensive research to find out which users and what tasks each device is best suited for. 

Tablet vs Laptop: Pros and Cons

Tablets

Pros

  • Longer battery life
  • Smaller and lighter
  • Touchscreen
  • Designed for media use
  • Best front-facing webcam
  • Easier to use

Cons

  • Smaller screen size
  • Higher cost
  • Fewer ports
  • No traditional keyboards
  • More chance of screen damage

Laptops

Pros

  • Higher productivity
  • More software available
  • Traditional keyboards
  • Larger screen
  • More versatile 
  • Upgradeable

Cons

  • Heavier and larger
  • Harder to use
  • Shorter battery life
  • Lower webcam quality

Tablet vs Laptop: Key Features Comparison

Here we compare laptops and tablets in terms of the most important factors: 

FeatureWinner device
PerformanceLaptop
BatteryTablet
PortabilityTablet
DisplayTablet
StorageLaptop
Input methodTablet
TypingLaptop
ConnectivityTablet
Software capabilities Laptop
PriceLaptop/Tablet
* The comparison is relevant for devices of the same price category. 

As you can see from our table, laptops and tablets are good for different tasks. Therefore, determine the most important criteria for yourself and see which device is best for you. Below we will consider each point in more detail.

Tablet vs Laptop: Performance

At first sight, the specifications are very similar. For example, an 8-core processor, 8 GB of RAM, 128 GB of storage — can apply to both a laptop and a tablet. However, it would be incorrect to compare performance by these parameters, since laptops and tablets use completely different algorithms, architectures, and technologies. Laptops are aimed at performance, tablets are aimed at autonomy and low heat generation. But this does not mean that tablets are slow, they are just less powerful than most laptops.

Winner — Laptop🏆

Tablet vs Laptop: Battery

In terms of battery life, tablets are second to none due to the smaller screen size and the fact that they are specially designed for low power consumption. For comparison, laptops generally work 6-8 hours on a single charge, for tablets of the same price category this figure is 10-15 hours.

Winner — Tablet🏆

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6

The longest battery life tablet 
(15 hours on one charge)

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6

Tablet vs Laptop: Portability

In terms of compactness and lightness, tablets certainly win due to their smaller size and construction features. Let’s compare: even ultraportable laptops weigh 2-3 lbs which are twice heavier than most tablets. You will also need a sleeve to carry your laptop, and the tablet will easily fit into your purse.

Winner — Tablet🏆

Tablet vs Laptop: Display

Let’s look at two main display factors: size and resolution. The standard 1080p display will provide a higher pixel density on the smaller screen of the tablet, so the images will be clearer with less visible pixels. As for laptops, they allow more workspace, again due to the larger size. In summary, we can say that tablets will always have a better image quality than laptops in the same price range.

Winner — Tablet🏆

SAMSUNG Galaxy Tab S7

The highest-quality display tablet

SAMSUNG Galaxy Tab S7

Tablet vs Laptop: Storage

Here is the undeniable advantage of laptops. Most laptops start with a 128GB SSD storage and up to 2TB or even more. Some laptops still use HDD storage, which provides more capacity for less money, but we currently recommend avoiding these models because HDDs run too slowly compared to SSDs. As for tablets, they usually have 16-64GB of storage, less often and more expensive models have 128-256GB, and even less often 500GB and above. Another advantage of laptop storage is its easy upgradeability.

Winner — Laptop🏆

Tablet vs Laptop: Input method

Typing is significantly faster on a laptop thanks to the traditional keyboard, which is indispensable for longer text entry. Tablet’s on-screen keyboard is much less efficient in this case.

The advantage of the tablet is the touch screen, you get the ability to take notes by hand, draw, and so on. By the way, some laptops are also equipped with a touch screen, but this method of input is more convenient on a tablet.

Winner — Tablet🏆

Tablet vs Laptop: Connectivity

Both types of devices are equipped with wireless connections (Wi-Fi). A small advantage of tablets is that they can have cellular data functionality built-in, which can be used as an alternative connection.

Winner — Tablet🏆

Tablet vs Laptop: Ports selection

If you need to connect a variety of peripherals or specialized tools, then a laptop is the best choice. Laptops always have a wider variety of connection ports compared to tablets.

Winner — Laptop🏆

Tablet vs Laptop: Software capabilities 

Tablet apps often have limited functionality compared to the full versions available on laptops. This is due to different operating systems, tablets mainly run on Android and iOS mobile devices, which require special software. Most programs run on tablets, but their functionality can vary greatly. Windows tablets are an exception, but in most cases, they will run slower than more powerful laptops. The exception is Windows Tablets such as the Microsoft Surface Pro, which can replace a laptop entirely without sacrificing performance.

Winner — Laptop🏆

Microsoft Surface Pro 7

Best Desktop Replacement
Tablet-to-Laptop Versatility

Microsoft Surface Pro 7

Tablet vs Laptop: Price

We can look at the question of price from two angles: entry-level device cost and value for money cost. 

If we compare devices of equal performance, then the cost of the tablet will be significantly higher, let’s compare two devices with similar key specs (processor, RAM, Storage): HP 14″ Laptop vs Microsoft Surface Pro 7. As you can see, the price of a tablet is more than $ 200 higher, which is a 20-30% overpayment compared to a laptop.

At the same time, an entry-level tablet (e.g.: Fire HD 8 tablet) will cost more than half the price of the most budget Windows laptop (e.g.: HP Stream 14-inch Laptop)

So, find out which priority is for you: an entry-level device or a high-performance device.

Winner — Laptop, Tablet 🏆

HP Stream 14-inch
Laptop

Laptop for work, school and play
for under $300
With Office 365 and 1 TB of cloud storage

Fire HD 10
Tablet

A great affordable tablet 
for everyday needs for you and your kids for under $150

Most Commonly Used Laptop and Tablet Scenarios

It can be difficult to decide on technical characteristics because it is not always clear what plays the main role in each case. Therefore, we looked at the most common uses for laptops and tablets by different people and now know which ones are best suited for every specific need. 

Area of useWinner device
BusinessLaptop
MultimediaTablet
StudyingLaptop
Casual activitiesTablet
GamingLaptop
ChildrenTablet
Family useLaptop
TravellingTablet
WritingLaptop
Photo/video editingLaptop

Tablet vs Laptop: for Business

Laptops are more suitable for business because they are more versatile. If you work in the office, the ultra-mobility and lightness of tablets simply aren’t worth sacrificing the functionality and performance that laptops provide. If your activity does not involve the use of resource-intensive programs but requires mobility and portability, then tablets will be the best choice. 

It is also worth considering that tablets generally do not support remote access, so in the case of a breakdown outside the office, an IT specialist will not be able to help you right away.

Winner — Laptop🏆

Tablet vs Laptop: for Students

Full-fledged laptops are more suitable for students. Simply because they are versatile. Studying in college, you are faced with many tasks and different software. You need to type a lot, open many tabs in the browser while doing research, format documents, and many others. Undoubtedly, all this is more convenient to do on a laptop.

Winner — Laptop🏆

Acer Swift 3

Best laptop for students
(powerful 8-core processor, ultraportable, all-day battery life)

Acer Swift 3

Tablet vs Laptop: for Children

For children of primary school age, tablets are better suited. They are easy to use, and since kids still find it difficult to understand how to use a computer, a tablet is a great place to start. It is convenient to play and study on it, it is lightweight and compact to carry with you, and the battery lasts all day. The only drawback of tablets for children is the increased likelihood of screen damage. 

Winner — Tablet🏆

Tablet vs Laptop: for Writers

For writers, bloggers, journalists, and everybody who is involved in text work, laptops are more suitable, since the tablet’s on-screen keyboard is not convenient for prolonged typing. An additional keyboard can be used, but it is less comfortable, and you also cannot work on your lap, you need a desk. All this reduces your mobility compared to working on a laptop. However, you don’t need high productivity for writing tasks. So, if you are faced with a choice between a tablet and a laptop, then the Chromebook is perfect for you: it has a traditional keyboard, is lightweight, compact, loads in seconds, and is very affordable, and starts from $200.

Winner — Laptop🏆

HP Chromebook 14-inch

Best laptop for writers
(good keyboard, all-day battery life, affordable)

HP Chromebook 14-inch

Tablet vs Laptop: for Gamers

If you need modern PC games that require high performance, a tablet will definitely not work here. However, a budget laptop is also not suitable, since top AAA games with acceptable graphics settings require a productive discrete video card and good cooling. So for gamers, laptops from the mid to high category are suitable.

The tablet is suitable for games in which realistic 3D graphics are not required. Such as the famous Angry Birds and other similar games. They are designed for mobile devices and touch control, and are much more convenient to play on a tablet.

But when it comes to gaming value, laptops provide more options than tablets.

Winner — Laptop🏆

Tablet vs Laptop: for Photo/Video Editing

While there are plenty of photo and video editing apps out there for tablets right now, the laptop offers more options. Laptop software has more professional tools, so you can make both simple and more complex editing. The displays of laptops are larger than those of tablets, which is very important when working with video and images. Firstly, you see your object better, and secondly, more tool menus will fit on the screen. Storage capacity is an important consideration because photo and video content takes up a lot of space. Tablets tend to have much less storage than laptops. Professional design applications often require a discrete graphics card, which is also not available for tablets.

Winner — Laptop🏆

Dell XPS 15

The best Windows laptop for photo and video editing 4K+ screen, 500-nit brightness, and touchscreen

Dell XPS 15

Tablet vs Laptop: for Travellers

In general, tablets are more convenient to travel. Firstly, they are lighter and more compact, plus the battery lasts longer. Tablets are more convenient to use on the road, and for in-flight entertainment, this is just the best device. So, for vacation, it is definitely better to choose a tablet, and if you are going on a business trip, then it all depends on your activity.

Winner — Tablet🏆

2-in-1 Convertibles: Enjoy Tablet-to-Laptop Versatility

It is a kind of compromise that allows you to use your computer in both laptop and tablet mode.

There are 2 types of 2-in-1 laptops:

  1. Detachable 2-in-1 laptops are designed in such a way that the keyboard and screen can be completely separated from each other, and part of the screen can be used as a tablet.
  2. Convertible 2-in-1 laptops have a hinge that can rotate the keyboard 360 degrees, so the laptop can stand in multiple positions and be used as a tablet. In this case, the keyboard is not detached, but flips back behind the screen.

It is worth noting that in addition to combining all the advantages inherent in each type of device, 2-in-1 also combines their disadvantages. 

Convertible laptops are more durable, but they are heavier, so using them as a tablet is not very convenient. Detachable laptops are better for tablet mode, but their keyboards are not as comfortable. Therefore, when considering a purchase, you need to weigh the pros and cons even more. 

Lenovo Flex 5 14″

2-in-1 Convertible Laptop
High performance with long battery life.
Touchscreen, Digital Pen Included

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6

Turn your tablet into a laptop instantly by connecting a keyboard with built-in trackpad

Final Verdict

Laptops offer excellent versatility, performance, and multitasking capabilities. Tablets, in turn, are unmatched in portability and ease of use. In this article, we have compared the main features of both devices and also covered the most common use cases. However, if your budget is not an issue, it is best to have both a tablet and a laptop, since these devices are completely different. 

Use this information knowing what you need the device for, what programs you will run, and what your budget is, to find the best tablet and laptop for you.

Acer Swift 3Microsoft Surface Pro 7Fire HD 8 tablet
Acer Swift 3Microsoft Surface Pro 7Fire HD 8 tablet
Best Laptop for Business, Study, and EntertainmentBest Desktop Replacement
Tablet-to-Laptop Versatility
Best Budget Tablet for Casual Use

FAQ:

👍 Which is better: laptop or tablet?

Laptops are more powerful and better suited for professional use as they have a wider selection of compatible software. Tablets are better suited for everyday use and provide better portability, they are lightweight, compact, and have longer battery life. For a detailed comparison, see the article.

⚖️ What is the difference between a tablet and a laptop?

Laptop: a compact version of desktop in a single chassis. It can be operated by battery or AC supply that makes it portable.
Tablet: a device generally operated with a mobile operating system. It has the touchscreen thin and flat formfactor without a physical keyboard. Tablets are more portable and the battery lasts longer compared to laptops.

💻 Can a tablet replace a laptop?

Not entirely true, since laptops and tablets are different devices designed for different tasks. Laptops are better suited for high-performance software that is often not available for tablets or is only available with limited functionality. If you do not need special software, then the tablet can easily cope with everyday tasks and can be an excellent replacement for a laptop. There are some more limitations, read detailed in the article.

🎮 What is better for a gaming laptop or tablet?

It depends on your gaming preferences. If you like resource-intensive games, then laptops are your definite choice, as tablets lack the power for realistic 3D graphics. At the same time, there are now many games designed specifically for tablets, so your tablet can be a gaming machine, albeit not in the traditional sense.

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