There’s a lot of talk right now about tablet computing given the fact that Amazon is about to release its new Kindle Fire at a fraction of the cost of other similar devices, such as the iPad. Furthermore, the number of tablet purchases
each year is growing at a much faster rate than that of laptops, and this trend is expected to escalate even further as technology evolves and prices continue to come down.
But home-based and other business opportunity and franchise owners beware. All tablets are not created equal and many tablets still can’t replace more than a standard mid-level laptop when it comes to running all aspects of your business. Not yet anyway.
While both laptops and tablets are handy mobile computing options that offer similar applications and features, there are some very important distinctions. Knowing what those distinctions are and how they will or won’t allow you to maximize your efficiency and success as a business owner is critical.
Consider the following:
There are tablets and then there are convertible tablet PCs. When they hear the term tablet, many people don’t realize that there’s a difference between slate-like tablets, such as the iPad, and convertible tablets. Convertible tablets are, for all intents and purposes, laptop computers, but they can be configured to operate as a handheld tablet when necessary. Slate tablets come standard with a display touch screen and a stylus and can be modified to operate like a laptop by adding a keyboard and a mouse. It is only recently that slates have become capable of doing much of what a laptop can do. So you really need to take careful stock of your business needs before you buy a tablet to ensure you get the right one. Otherwise, you might do just as well to invest in either a convertible tablet or even a laptop. All other things being equal, your final decision may come down to personal preference.
Tablets don’t have the storage capacity that laptops do. Part of what makes tablets so attractive is their smaller size, light weight and portability. Unfortunately, smaller comes at a price when you're talking storage as tablets have no room for a built-in optical drive to read software, access consumer media or keep records for archival purposes and data exchange. Laptops have plenty and are far more conducive to carting around extensive document libraries, music, movies and any other lengthy digital content.
Smaller screens pose challenges. Tablets have smaller screens that can cause real problems for business owners who don’t have the ability or patience to navigate on them. However, the fact that they are so lightweight trumps this concern for many.
Using a stylus isn’t for everyone. The primary means of interacting with a slate is with a stylus. For those who master the technique, a stylus allows for greater artistry and individuality than does a mouse or a touchpad. In addition, slates learn to recognize their primary user’s handwriting, which saves money on writing supplies and is great for brief note-taking. However, it takes time for a slate to convert handwriting into type. As such, tablets are not the best option when it comes to typing reports or other forms of more lengthy communication. Especially for fluent typists, using a laptop is much faster.
Laptops are more durable. Because a tablet’s touchscreen serves as the primary means of input, it is far more vulnerable to damage than is a laptop. Cracks, dead pixels, blown backlight bulbs and bad sensors are not uncommon, and those LCD screens and other parts can be very expensive to replace.
Tablets go longer on one charge. A fully charged tablet can go 8 to 10 hours before it needs more juice. Laptops can only make it about three or four at the outside. Plus, the charger for a tablet is much lighter than that of a laptop.
Obtrusiveness or a lack thereof matters. Tablets lay flat and don’t obstruct your ability to interact with others at a conference table. They also boot up much faster than laptops and are overall less cumbersome. Furthermore, you aren’t as likely to pull out a laptop during a quick interaction with a customer as you would be a tablet. Depending on the nature of your business, being able to walk around with a computer as if it were little more than a clipboard may be a real plus.
Laptops are made to be shared. Tablets very much conform to their owners’ handwriting and patterns of use, which makes them perfect for one particular person. Laptops, on the other hand, are able to be shared by many, which may make them a better investment for some business owners who have more than one or two employees.