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Laptops Vs Tablets Vs E-Readers:

If you're in the market for a new portable electronic device, there seems to be an increasingly overwhelming amount of information to consider. Laptops are versatile. Tablets are popular. E-readers are inexpensive. So how do you know what the best fit is for you? In the end, it depends on your needs and on your budget.

First, think about the features that will be necessary on the device for you to perform. Perhaps you often travel for leisure, casually browse the web and watch the odd film. While the versatility of a laptop might be nice in the unlikely event that you'll take up a design project or engage in academic research, this device is probably too inconvenient and costly for your overall needs. A tablet would be much more practical, especially because it's such an easy device to travel with.

On the other hand, if you mostly read books and want to have something that can replace all of the print books that you carry with you every day, then an e-reader is probably your best choice.

Next, think about how much you would like to spend. While tablets don't have as much functionality as a laptop, they're generally (but not always) less expensive. Consider the value element here, as casual computer users and Internet browsers will prefer the cheaper option, despite the more limited scope of applications to explore with a tablet. There is some overlap in cost, however, in the high-end tablet and low- to medium-end of the laptop market, and it's important to carefully weigh function and convenience to price.

Overall, when trying to decide between a laptop, tablet and e-reader, the “winner” is always the most preferable choice for your specific needs. Here are some factors to consider:

Laptops

Pros

Laptops have the most functionality and versatility compared to tablets and e-readers.

They're ideal for frequent web browsing, e-mailing, research, document and presentation creation, audio/video playback, gaming and/or keyboard use.

Laptops come with full keyboards, allowing you to type much faster and more accurately compared to a touch screen device.

Laptops have back-lit, LCD screens that are great for web browsing, viewing photos and audio/video playback.

Laptops also have large screens and high screen resolution, which is ideal for viewing photos, browsing the web or enjoying entertainment content.

Laptops are also more durable than tablets, and you won't have to worry about scratching or damaging the touchscreen display.

Cons

Laptops are generally more expensive than tablets and e-readers and are not as simple to use.

Their back-lit, LCD screens are not ideal for reading e-books on, as they don't use the same “e-ink” displays that e-readers have. Prolonged reading can lead to eye strain.

Laptop screens also tend to be reflective, and are not ideal for reading in bright sunlight or under certain types of artificial light.

Laptops require a boot-up sequence.

Laptops are heavy (typically 3 to 6 lbs) and relatively large (typically 13 - 15” screen sizes) compared to tablets and e-readers.

Tablets

Pros

Tablets are notebook computers that rely on a touch screen interface for all input.

You can use a tablet for almost anything that you might want to do on a laptop computer. Tablets are ideal for casual web browsing, moderate gaming or watching movies. Tablets can also be used in a variety of specialized careers such as music and design.

Most tablets have back-lit, LCD screens that are great for web browsing, viewing photos and audio/video playback.

Tablets have instant on/off functionality, compared to a laptop that requires going through a boot-up sequence.

Tablets are battery efficient compared to laptops. You should be able to get around 10 hours between battery charges, depending on the types of applications you're running.

There are plenty of handy apps that can significantly extend the functionality of your tablet.

Tablets are very lightweight (typically 1 - 1.5 lbs), compact (typically 8” - 10” screen sizes) and easy to carry compared to a laptop.

Cons

The most obvious difference between a tablet and a laptop is the lack of a keyboard. This is fine when navigation primarily involves pointing, dragging or tapping, but inputting text into a program, such as in an e-mail or a document, can be more difficult. Since you're typing on a virtual keyboard, most people cannot type as quickly or as accurately as they could on a regular keyboard. You can add an external keyboard to most tablets; however, this adds costs and peripherals to a device that is generally intended to be portable and cost-saving.

Tablets do not possess the same processing power as a laptop. Their functionality as a computing device is limited, although sufficient for many people's uses.

Tablets require learning about how the programs you regularly use can be supplanted by application equivalents.

Tablets are not ideal for heavy researching, frequent keyboard use, document and presentation creation or hardcore gamers.

Tablets are also not practical for reading e-books on, as they don't use the same e-ink displays that e-readers have. Tablets are fine for reading in short periods, but prolonged reading can lead to eye strain.

Tablet screens tend to be reflective, and are not ideal for reading in bright sunlight or under certain types of artificial light.

Screens can also be susceptible to scratching or damage.

E-Readers

Pros

E-readers are great if you primarily want to read e-books, due to their special “e-ink” technology. Reading on an e-ink screen is almost identical to reading printed text. The displays are also not back-lit, so won't get as much eye strain as you would when reading on a tablet or laptop computer, both of which use backlit screens.

Another benefit of e-ink displays is that they only draw power when a page is being updated. E-readers can therefore last for weeks before a battery charge, compared to hours on a laptop or tablet.

E-readers allow you to carry a collection of thousands of books around in a device that is smaller and lighter than the average paperback book. An e-reader generally weighs less than 0.5 lbs, and is slightly smaller than a tablet (5” - 6” screen size is common).

Finally, e-readers are good value for money. They generally cost much less than laptops and tablets, and there are plenty of choices available for $100 - $150.

Cons

Many e-readers are only available in monochrome displays, which limits you to black and white.

Although e-ink displays are for reading purposes, they have a slow refresh rate, which makes them unsuitable for watching video on.

Although some e-readers have web browsing capabilities, the experience is poor at best, given that they can't play video and are often only available in black and white. E-readers with web browsing capabilities are generally best suited for choosing and downloading new books to read, and sending the odd e-mail when your other devices aren't handy

Summary

Laptops:

Full functionality and excellent versatility Ideal for frequent web browsing, e-mailing, research, document and presentation creation, audio/video playback, gaming or keyboard use Back-lit LCD display Full keyboard Colour display Battery life measured in hours Requires a boot-up sequence Not ideal for prolonged reading sessions Good durability Large screen (typically 13” - 15”) Relatively heavy (typically 3 - 6 lbs) Expensive (generally between $500 - $1,000)

Tablets:

Generally a companion device for travel or leisure purposes Ideal for casual web browsing, viewing photos, audio/video playback and moderate gaming Simple and easy to use Back-lit LCD display Touch screen Colour display Battery life measured in hours Instant on/off functionality Not ideal for prolonged reading sessions Screen susceptible to scratching Relatively small screen (typically 8” - 10”) Lightweight (typically 1 - 1.5 lbs) Moderately expensive (generally between $200 - $600)

E-Readers:

Primarily for reading e-books Simple and easy to use E-ink technology display Often monochrome- only display Battery life measured in weeks Ideal for reading for long periods. No eye strain. Inefficient for web browsing. No video playback. Screen susceptible to scratching Small screen (typically 5” - 6”) Very lightweight (typically 0.5 lbs or less) Inexpensive (generally between $100 - $150) Conclusion

Choose a laptop if you...

Are shopping for a primary computer Need a device that requires high performance (e.g., for work, school, data entry, research, document or presentation creation, photo editing, design or games) Type a lot (e.g., to compose e-mails or create documents) Frequently browse the web Read for short periods at a time Read material that uses a lot of colour and/or graphics Are not on a tight budget and are happy to spend a fairly large amount on a device with full functionality Choose a tablet if you…

Already have a laptop or desktop computer and want a secondary device for travel or leisure purposes Are comfortable navigating using point interaction Are looking for a device that's very simple and easy to use Have basic needs, such as casual web browsing, checking e-mail or posting to social networks Want something purely for entertainment (movies, TV, music, moderate gaming, etc.) Read for short periods at a time Read material that uses a lot of colour and/or graphics Choose an e-reader if you…

Read books, magazines and newspapers that don't have a lot of graphical content Read for prolonged periods of time Battery efficiency is important to you Don't browse the web very often or have other means of browsing Don't want to spend a large amount of money on a secondary device


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