Ever since Microsoft founder Bill Gates saw a demonstration of VisiCorp’s ‘Visi On’ at COMDEX in 1982, the reification of consumer-level computing had begun. It is with this event, along with early iterations of GUI (Graphical User Interface) work at Apple and IBM, that we have the foundation for what even our two year-olds understand and interact with today.

With the widespread adoption and popularity of devices like Microsoft Surface Pro and the iPad, the question has undoubtedly arose, Laptop or Tablet? Are laptops slowly becoming obsolete? Are tablets overrated and merely a market niche? The real answer is, it all depends.

Everyone uses their technology devices differently, and with the ever-growing market of applications, this only stands to increase in the coming years. While some can get by with a tablet, there are compromises necessary to using tablets exclusively. There is also an inverse trade-off with laptops, sacrificing the convenience of a portable device, in favour of a technology device with greater power and versatility.

In an effort to distinguish the right choice for you, let’s delve into some of the pros and cons of each technology to better understand the cost and benefit.

Laptops vs. Tablets

Laptops like desktop PCs have substantial benefit when it comes to processing power. A laptop utilizes superior hardware to process tasks quicker, has better multi-tasking (Hyper-threading) and has a much wider scope of versatility. From computer management and word-processing, video editing, network management, even gaming, a laptop provides a notably more seamless experience with all of them.

Mobile gaming has exploded in the last decade with the rise of browser games like FarmVille or app store games like Angry Birds and Vikings, tablets deal well with these, but with the more immersive and graphically intensive games, laptops do a far better job of portraying these applications the way they were meant to be seen and played. Laptops have made significant strides in gaming, and while in most cases they can’t be compared with desktop PCs in terms of computing power, they are a great balance between pragmatism and portability if you’re looking to get a bit of everything.

With great power comes great.. storage capacity? While tablets have increased their low-end capacity options from 16GB to 64GB in the last 4 years (adding credence to Moore’s Law), Laptop manufacturers now also offer options up to 2TB’s (2000GB) of storage! Laptop’s also offer an innate advantage in being able to utilize most USB external hard-drives with ease, whereas the tablet requires you to buy a specific external hard-drive, or buy extra gadgets and cables. In relation to device management also comes network management, which is worlds easier on a laptop computer that has full control, rather than a tablet, which has little to no control with network maintenance.

Buzzwords like ergonomic are often thrown around in marketing products, but a laptop does tend toward a tactile and intuitive feel, adding to the overall usability and comfort. Most people would agree that typing on a virtual keyboard on a tablet is less preferable to a regular ‘qwerty’ keyboard, especially when it comes to productivity in the workplace. In general when it comes to small changes like a Facebook post or tweet, tablets are great, and they do offer the ease of taking pictures and adding them into a post or text quickly. That being said, tablets are quite arduous to use when typing long blog posts or emails quickly, not to mention you miss out on the efficiency of keyboard shortcuts. (Take a guess what I’m using to type this article)

There is also the question of peripherals, and while both tablets and laptops have a slew of gadgets and accessories, it is laptops compatibility with USB and HDMI that allows it to hold its position steadily at the table of tech. Some laptops still even support CD’s! With USB remaining the standard for peripheral devices such as mice, keyboards, webcams, storage devices, even secondary monitors, the laptop truly is unrivalled in relation to the tablet, both in its performance & flexibility, but also in its support for peripherals.

So what are your goals for your device? If all you need is to take notes, stay connected, browse the internet, and take some pictures, at a lower price point, the tablet may be for you. If your looking to get a sizeable amount of work done in an efficient manner, administrate through network maintenance and computer management, or just play games at a decent frame-rate, laptops are without a doubt the easy choice.