What is the difference between a laptop and a notebook? A notebook and a tablet? Edgy Labs is here to help.
Though it may seem like a simple explanation, this decision all comes down to what you want to use your device for. If you’re planning on giving a tech gift (or getting a new device for yourself) check out our guide to choosing between notebooks, tablets, and laptops before diving into a bloated post-holiday market.
In terms of performance, laptops will always have better specs than tablets (and most notebooks). That doesn’t mean tablets will run slowly or won’t offer a smooth user experience, it simply means that laptops are equipped for more intense and heavy-duty tasks.
Reasons You Need to Buy a Laptop
Productivity: If you’re doing any kind of work, whether it’s planning a bake sale or number crunching in Microsoft Office, having a laptop with a keyboard, ports, and a full computer operating system is vital. I have a friend who does all his productivity work on an iPad with a keyboard, but that’s not the most comfortable scenario for most people.
Education: There’s a reason why most schools give their students Chromebooks instead of tablets. To do research and create content such as term papers, kids need a real keyboard and full desktop software. In addition, standard laptops offer much more in terms of media storage and gaming opportunities–something college students especially value.
Shopping/transactions: Yes, you can visit websites and make online purchases from a tablet or phone, but when you’re buying many items or making a major purchase, you benefit from being able to view the full desktop versions of websites on a large display.
Notebooks work well for people who could buy either a laptop or a tablet. In their most basic form, a tablet is more of a consumption device, whereas a notebook is more of a creation device. Many are similar in size and look to a small-size laptop with the ability to fold back and/or detach the keyboard.
Reasons You Need to Buy a Notebook
Artists: If you like to draw, you can do that on either a large-screen tablet such as an iPad Pro or on a 2-in-1 like the Surface Pro. However, if you’re going for a drawing laptop, a detachable is a much better idea than a convertible with a bend-back lid. You want to be able to hold the slate in your hand, without the added bulk of the keyboard and touchpad on the back.
Professionals: In your professional life, you might need to hook up your gizmo to a projector, a broadband wire or a printer; and you might even need to connect other gadgets such as pen drives or a phone to your device. A notebook is a clear winner here since most come with at least three USB ports, one HDMI port, an Ethernet port for broadband as well as a card reader. These machines also support USB dongles or Wi-Fi for internet connectivity.
Students and Teachers: A notebook provides a slightly larger keyboard display than a tablet and is perfect for taking notes during class and writing essays. Though not quite as professional and reliable, they can also be easily used to check emails, watch the occasional Netflix show, and browse the web.
When it comes to portability, there’s no question that tablets offer the best option. In general, tablets are around 7-11 inches, while laptops are 12-16 inches, which immediately means that the former is going to be easier to carry around. Tablets also offer vastly better battery life than laptops and with smaller screens, tablets often feature better pixel-per-inch (PPI) density. Taking seven tablets from our list of best tablets, the average PPI works out at 262, whereas doing the same with our best laptops, the average is a PPI of 176 according to Trusted Reviews.
However, according to Laptop Magazine, “the line between productivity slates like the iPad Pro and laptops is quickly disappearing”.
Reasons You Need to Buy a Tablet
Child’s first device: Tablets are the gadget of choice for younger children, because they are easy-to-use, have the best kid-friendly software, and don’t require you to read. Amazon’s Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 for kids are particularly great first devices because they come with a ton of age-appropriate content, fantastic parental controls and two years of accidental damage protection.
Reading/video watching: If you want to curl up on the couch with a favorite movie or book, a tablet makes a lot of sense, particularly one that’s 8 inches or smaller. Yes, you can watch a movie on a 2-in-1 laptop, but even on a detachable, the device is much bulkier than a simple slate.
Of course, you could consume media on a large-screen phone as easily as you would on a tablet. But tablets are much larger, and most people wouldn’t give a smartphone to a young child.
Which Should I Choose?
Notebooks, tablets, and laptops are all fairly similar in their capabilities and size. However, each is built for different consumer needs. Before making a purchase consider several things about the intended user including:
- History and Function: What tech products has the user gravitated to in the past? Do they have any brand loyalty?
- Interface Experience: What devices does this user interact with and/or already own?
- Mobile Friendliness: How mobile does this user need to be while using this device? Where will this device travel on a given day?
- Device Compatibility: Will this device need to be plugged in or connected to another for presentations, projects, etc?
- Customization: Does this user need access to special software/accessories (like e-pens for artists, HDMI cables for those who have projectors, or Augmented Reality (AR) capabilities for VR gamers)?