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If you work remotely, getting your home office set-up just right is an important undertaking.
It’s a careful balance of workplace functionality, lifestyle choices and domestic detailing that requires a fair amount of research. No longer tethered to the office cubicle, many of us enjoy working from various locations around the home, strolling to a café to get the day started – or having a dedicated space to retreat to when family life gets too hectic.
Both laptops and tablets allow for this more flexible approach to work – but which is better?
Today, we’re looking at the main pros and cons of laptops vs tablets. We’ll consider key variables such as portability, storage, performance and more, so you can choose with confidence.
Understand your own needs.
When deciding between a laptop and a tablet for working from home, the first thing you should do is assess your own requirements. Write a list of the things you’ll use your device for – and this will help you assess what features to prioritise.
- Are you mainly checking emails and writing documents? What about editing videos, presentations, performing payroll tasks or working with a complex database?
- Will you carry your device around a lot? If so, portability is essential. If you work with large files, storage might be more important to you
- Furthermore, will this be your main device for leisure as well as work? If you enjoy activities such as watching TV, gaming or playing music, these should all be factored in.
Your budget will also be an important consideration. Do your research (with the maximum amount you’re able to spend in mind) to find out what you’re able to purchase – and what capabilities you can realistically expect.
With your own priorities and budget in the bag, it’s time to start comparing…
If you’re lucky enough to have a dedicated home office, portability might not matter that much to you. If you travel between home and the office (or other working spaces) though, this will be a key consideration.
Due to their larger screens, inbuilt keyboards, thicker structure and heavier batteries, laptops weigh significantly more than tablets. Whilst the latest iPad Air weighs just 460g, the company’s svelte MacBook Air (for instance) weighs almost double at 1.29kgs.
With additional charging cables, laptops will also take-up more room in your bag or even necessitate a separate carrying case.
If portability is your primary concern, tablets are the way to go…
If you’re a graphic designer working with large files, HD graphics and detailed tasks… laptops are more likely to offer the performance you need. For the odd administrative task or inbox management however, a tablet will provide both flexibility and ease.
As a rule of thumb.
Laptops have higher-performing processors due to space and internal cooling. As a result, they have more power than tablets with the ability to run multiple programs simultaneously. This makes laptops an excellent choice if you’re regularly multi-tasking across varied activities.
Despite this, there are exceptions. Some high-end tablets can outperform laptops on tasks such as video and photo editing. This will come with additional costs however, something you’ll have to factor in.
For overall power and performance, laptops are the winner…
Generally speaking, tablets have a longer battery life. Because of their smaller screens and less hardware (as well as more reliable batteries) many tablets can easily last for 10-14 hours at a time.
If you spend a lot of time away from your desk with frequent client presentations – this is a key consideration. At the cheaper end of the market, some laptops only last a few hours. Most laptop batteries do last between 4-10 hours however, so check before you buy.
For battery life alone, tablets have the upper hand…
If you use specific programs or accessories, make sure your laptop or tablet is able to accommodate this. For instance, if you use Adobe Photoshop regularly – are there compatible apps for your tablet and is it powerful enough to run them?
Whilst modern tablets have many specially designed apps, you might struggle with compatibility with certain brands. If you’re regularly transferring files or downloading documents and images from clients and colleagues, a laptop offers more control over how you store and manipulate files and data.
For more complex and resource intensive software requirements, laptops are often a superior choice…
With a traditional hard drive, laptops have greater storage capacity than tablets – with more room for your videos, images and files. Tablets usually use SSDs (solid-state drives) for storage, which allows them to be smaller in size.
Tablets allow between 8 and 64 gigabytes of storage. Budget laptops start around 500 gigabytes, rising to multiple terabytes at the higher end of the market, although consider that many laptops still use traditional magnetic hard drives that are significantly slower than solid state drives.
Whilst the latest innovations in cloud-based storage mean tablets can extend their storage capabilities (as well as USB-C connections for external hard drives), this is often less seamless than the experience on a laptop.
If storage is a primary issue, laptops are the way to go…
There’s no doubt an attached, physical keyboard creates an ergonomic and easy typing experience.
If you type a lot for work, you’ll have to invest in an external keyboard for your tablet. Consider whether this will be comfortable and functional enough for your needs, as well as the ease of portability and attachment.
Laptops generally have a wider variety of ports and connectors (particularly USB ports) often with additional apertures for headphones, HDMI and SD card readers. This means linking accessories such as webcams, Bluetooth devices and storage is much easier.
Having said this.
Tablets have better built-in cameras than laptops (often on a par with leading smartphones). So if you’re looking for a device that can easily allow for photos and video recording – tablets are a great option.
If typing is a priority, go for a laptop. If you prize camera capabilities however, tablets are the perfect choice…
Which should you choose?
Whether you choose a laptop or tablet for working from home will ultimately depend on your unique needs and requirements.
Carefully think about how you’ll use the device, which will allow you to prioritise aspects such as portability, performance, storage, battery life, accessories and software compatibility. Of course, your budget will also dictate your choices to a significant extent.
Overall, laptops have the edge for performance, software and storage – whilst tablets offer greater portability and battery life. When deciding between the two, pick the device that will make your life simpler and more enjoyable… and you won’t regret it. Good luck and happy home working!