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Home > Laptops > Tablet PCs Pros and Cons of the Laptop Rival

Tablet PCs: Pros and Cons of the Laptop Rival

Because of continuously improving mobile technology - including handwriting recognition, speech recognition, thin and light components and improved battery life - Tablet PCs have become a viable option when deciding which mobile PC is right for you. Tablet PCs are undoubtedly a head-turner, but do they have the features you need to be more productive when compared to a laptop? For many people, this is subjective and a matter of personal preference. However, there are distinct advantages both platforms have depending what you are looking to do with your mobile PC. This article will explain some of these advantages so you may make a more informed decision on your mobile computing needs.

Pros

Students or those with careers in fields that require frequent note writing, such as medical, construction, research or digital illustration, can definitely benefit from a Tablet PC. Essentially, if anything you do on a day-to-day basis requires a lot of handwriting or sketching you should at least consider a tablet PC. Below are a few advantages of purchasing a Tablet PC:
  • More natural form of input: Sketching and handwriting are a much more intuitive form of input than a keyboard and mouse, especially for people who are new to computers. Also, the pen is an absolute pointing device rather than a relative pointing device like the mouse. Something on screen can be clicked on by taking the pen straight to it (the pen can "jump" to its target).
  • Gesture recognition: Gestures (moving the stylus in special patterns over the screen) are powerful ways to increase efficiency.
  • Paperless world: Lack of paper makes it easier to share and reorganize notes by moving text around the page instead of using a physical eraser. This also reduces clutter from paper binders and expedites workflow interaction.
  • Student note-taking: Tablet PCs make it possible for students and conference attendees to take graphical notes of figures during class and presentations.
  • Accessibility: Those who are physically unable to type but can hold a stylus are able to input characters at a reasonable rate.
  • Digital art: Tablets are often necessary for some professional digital artists, who need precise control in their work. For many, mouse movement is too jerky to be used as a pen.
  • Portability: Slate tablets and hybrids without keyboards are very slim and light compared to typical laptops and can easily be tucked under the arm like a book.
  • Horizontal orientation: Most tablet PCs do not interrupt line of sight since they lie flat on the table or in one's arms. This allows for better interaction in business meetings and conferences and also makes it easy for digital artists to draw on a horizontal medium.


Cons

Even with the technological advancements that have gone into Tablet PCs, they are still, for the most part, not as powerful or full of features as their laptop cousins. To achieve a smaller form factor, lighter weight and longer battery life, many of the higher-end features or power hungry hardware options found in a laptop are intentionally left out of most Tablet PCs. If you're looking for a desktop replacement, powerful media/graphics hub or high-end processing machine, you're not going to find it in almost any Tablet PC. However, performance continues to improve on Tablet PCs and hopefully in the near future these mobile PCs will at least rival the feature set of a comparably priced laptop. That is because currently, Tablet PCs are always more expensive than a similarly configured laptop. What other factors should you consider when making your decision? Below are some disadvantages of Tablets:
  • Higher price tag: Convertible Tablet PCs cost roughly $300 more than their non-tablet counterparts. However, prices are expected to even out in the future.
  • Screen size: The size of Tablet PC screens currently peaks at about 14 inches. However, some models make up for this with very high resolution (a higher pixel density per unit area, which is a necessity for digital artists who use the stylus), making this a tradeoff rather than a disadvantage.
  • Fewer model options than laptops: Relatively few manufacturers offer Tablet PCs compared to laptops.
  • Hinge: The weakest physical part of a laptop is often the hinge. Convertible tablet PCs have only one hinge (traditional laptops have two hinges), and thus experience higher stress and wear on the single hinge.
  • Digitizer issues: Some tablet digitizers cannot keep up if the user writes or draws quickly, reducing the accuracy of the lines the computer captures. In addition, the signal from the pen may become distorted near the edges of the screen.
  • Input speed: Maximum handwriting speed can be significantly slower than maximum typing speed, which can be as high as 50-150 WPM.


Different Types of Tablet PCs
If you decide to purchase a Tablet PC, you have 2 primary options to choose from. Here is a simple explanation of each type:
Slate
Slates are Tablet PCs that comprise of a screen and a pen. There is no integrated keyboard, making them similar to PDAs in design. An optional keyboard can be added through means of a wireless or USB connection.

Convertible
Convertibles are Tablet PCs with a base body and a keyboard. Typically, the base attaches to the display at a single joint that rotates 180° right to left and folds 180° back and forth. This allows you to use the Tablet PC either as a slate or a more familiar laptop configuration when needed.


If all of the above still has you "on the fence" of which mobile PC to buy, making a decision may come down to three basic factors: hardware requirements, range of use, and accessibility. Choosing a mobile PC should reflect your needs as a user, and may simply come down to personal preference.
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