Introduction to Tablets

Before you start…

Tablets are rapidly growing in popularity and use. Because of this, a number of students, faculty, and staff are interested in purchasing a tablet for personal use. But there are massive amounts of information a person must look through before deciding if a tablet is actually a purchase they should make. The following help page attempts to consolidate a large amount of this information to give users a single place where they can learn what they need to know about tablets. If you have any additional questions after reading this help page, please send an email to Tech Help or call 937-766-7905.

What is a tablet?

A tablet is a compact device that in many ways functions as a mobile computer/laptop. Today, tablets are growing in popularity because of their ease of use, portability, and features. Tablets can be used to: browse the Internet, check e-mail, download and read books, play games, watch videos, organize content, and much more.  Most tablets are touch operated and are between the size of a smartphone and a laptop. Generally, the device will come with a built in keyboard that displays on screen and a “tilt” feature that changes the orientation of the display depending on how the device is being held.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of using a tablet?

Most people looking to purchase a tablet are trying to determine if a laptop will suite their needs, or if a tablet will be worth the price of purchase.  There are a number of advantages and disadvantages to using a tablet over a laptop.

Size

Tablets are consistently smaller and lighter than laptops. Tablets are also noticeably thinner.  The average tablet weighs between 1 and 2 pounds, while the average laptop is 4 to 7 pounds. However, this weight difference is partly due to the smaller screen size of a tablet. The most popular tablets are between 8.5 and 10 inches, while laptop screens often range from 12 to 15 inches. Because of the weight difference and thinness of a tablet, most users consider a tablet to be more convenient to transport and easier to carry.

Battery Life

Tablets range in battery life from 4 to 10 hours (with more popular devices such as the iPad and Galaxy being on the 9 to 10 hour side). Laptop batteries usually last between 2 and 4 hours. Also, tablet chargers are smaller and more portable than laptop chargers.

Features  and Programs

At this time, laptops still offer a number of features and programs tablets do not offer. While applications (apps) of some programs may exist for tablets, the features are limited. For example, Pages is available for the iPad, but does not offer as many features as on an actual MacBook. Storing media is also more limited on tablets. Most laptops have at least 250 GB of storage, while high end tablets offer only 64 GB. The majority of tablets come in 16 GB or 32 GB configurations. Other features offered on laptops but that are lacking for tablets include: CD and DVD burning/playing, a physical keyboard, USB ports, and disk drives. However, a number of these features (physical keyboards, external storage, etc.) are available for tablets if you are willing to buy certain accessories.

Price

Tablets range in price from $200 to $700. The price is dependent on what brand you choose, how much space you would like to have, and what accessories you want in addition to the tablet itself. It is difficult to compare prices of laptops to tablets simply because they offer such different functionality. Laptops such as the Lenovo ThinkPad X30 are as low as $250, while lapptops as such the MacBook Pro range from $1200 to $2500.

Other Considerations

The number of considerations and comparisons that can be made between laptops, tablets, and other mobile devices are endless. Some people find the navigation of tablets easier because of its touch-based user interface, while others find it easier to use a point-and-click cursor/mouse on a laptop. Laptops offer the option of using multiple operating systems (OS) while on a tablet you are restricted to one OS. On the other hand, tablets can run thousands of apps that are often easier to use and cheaper than on an actual computer or laptop. 

Should I purchase a tablet?

Ultimately, the decision to purchase a tablet is based on your needs as a user. You must choose based on what you want the device to actually accomplish. Users describe tablets as small, lightweight, and instantly accessible. They offer numerous ways to organize and store information, as well as “day to day” features like email, news, and media. However, tablets are more lacking in storage, and also do not offer the software capabilities you will have with a laptop.

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