Tablets are all the rage right now. There’s the mighty iPad, the struggling underdog Playbook, and a myriad of Android-based tablets from Acer, Asus, Samsung and Toshiba, to name a few. They’re hip, they’re cool, and they all promise to change your life—but can they?

First, let’s consider the cost of a laptop. If you want one that should last two to three years or longer, then $650 to $800 is the price range that you should focus on. You shouldn’t have to spend any additional money either, as you have plenty of free software choices as mentioned in one of my previous columns.

The cost of a tablet can range anywhere from $149 to $899, or even higher, depending on the manufacturer, model, form factor, and features that you’re buying. So it is possible to get a tablet for quite a bit less than what you would pay for a decent laptop.

However, this is not actually a comparison of a laptop versus a tablet. This is a comparison of two devices with two different functions. One is meant to create content. The other is meant to consume content.

Tablets are great consumption devices. For viewing social content, media, or quick online browsing, they make an excellent coffee table computer; something that’s there and easy to turn on. As far as creating content goes, you’re pretty limited in that area. Sure you can get a Bluetooth keyboard and a stand, but you’re still not going to want to write a term paper on a seven, nine, or ten inch screen.

Tablets also suffer from limitations that you don’t get with a fully functional computer. They have significantly less storage space, and are easier to break. Their size also makes them easier to lose and they can easily be stolen. Also, most can’t access external media such as flash drives, hard drives, or memory cards.

One of its greatest shortcomings is that most tablets are throwaway technology. If it breaks, or the battery doesn’t hold a charge anymore, it’s generally too expensive to repair. So instead you would have to buy another tablet to replace it.

If you have the money to spend, a tablet makes a great companion device. It’s a device that would fit somewhere between a smartphone and a laptop. If you need to create a significant amount of content, however, a laptop is still the way to go.


This article first appeared in Memorial University’s student newspaper: The Muse http://themuse.ca/2012/09/19/column-tech-bytes/

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