Working on the Run: Tablet or Laptop?

If traveling is an inherent part of your working life then it’s almost certain that some kind of portable computing will be vital. Not so long ago, the decision was limited to which kind of laptop was best. Now that question has become more complicated, not just by the addition of tablets, but also the choice of operating systems.

Tablet or Laptop

Tablet, Laptop, Android, iOS, Windows 8…?

At first glance the wide range of options can seem confusing. The good news is that with so many alternatives, there’s likely to be something that fits your needs almost perfectly. That’s great, but how are you going to narrow it down?

The web, not surprisingly, is a good place to start. If you were looking for fast internet, for example, you’d go to an independent site like who can show you the various options. The same is true to an extent with laptops and tablets, there are plenty of comparisons and reviews to help you.

The challenge, from a business perspective, is that these sites frequently focus on home-users and gamers. If you’re working away then personal entertainment functions – reading books, watching movies or listen to musicĀ  might be a nice addition, but not what you’re primarily choosing a machine for.

In trying to narrow down the choices it’s perhaps better to set the various technologies to one side for a moment and focus on the tasks you need to perform.

Tablets have been categorized by some as “consumer devices”. They’re relatively low cost. They’re very portable. As a way to pass the time sat on a train or a plane they’re ideal. But what we’re concerned with here is working on the move, and where tablets are perhaps not so strong is in the creation or manipulation of work-related information.

Laptop, Android, iOS, Windows 8

The Power To Do What You Want, When You Want

We’re not at the stage of writing off a tablet as a business machine completely. If you want a presentation tool – a way to display content that you or colleagues have created back at head office – they can be excellent. In certain industries (music, for example) they are fast becoming the preferred option.

It’s in a day-to-day working environment that their weaknesses start to show, and mostly what it boils down to is power: the ability to run the kind of programs you use both in the office and on the move. While there are “apps” that will allow you to view Word, Excel or Powerpoint files on a Tablet, a laptop is the tool of choice when there’s “real” work to be done. It’s not just the storage space and the availability of business-related programs, there are simple practicalities. You can type on a tablet, but if you need to do more than write an email or update your Facebook status, it soon becomes tiresome. It’s just not productive.

Laptop, Android, iOS, Windows 8

So What About Hybrids?

Recently, several manufacturers have introduced hybrid tablet / laptop combinations. Because they run Windows 8 most people can access all the software they would usually use. That makes them a very capable working tool – yet the screen can be detached so you have the convenience of a tablet too.

Are they the ideal solution, or just another gimmick? Not surprisingly, that additional flexibility comes at a price. If you’re on a budget, a more basic laptop would probably provide all the computing power you needed – and you could even have enough money left over to treat yourself to a separate tablet!

hybrid tablet

The moment we seem to have an answer, there’s another development that further confuses the picture. As a business person on the move it’s important to look beyond the glitz, the glamor and the new. Making the right choice of laptop or tablet comes down to the performance a particular device gives you and the price you’re prepared to pay. While hybrids are undoubtedly a very clever approach to the problem, for the moment it’s likely that a dedicated machine offers the best value for money – and a more precise answer to the demands of your job.

Corey Hunter is always on the go and relies on mobile technology. An avid blogger, his posts appear mainly on technology websites.

January 2019
« Oct