If you’re looking to invest in a new portable device, you have tons of options to choose from. The multitude of products can be quite overwhelming, so you want to give yourself ample time to research and consider which device is right for your needs.
There are three general categories when it comes to larger devices: laptops, netbooks, and tablets. Before you start exploring the different options within each category, you need to first decide which one you want to buy. These devices are very similar and can carry out a lot of the same functions, but subtle differences will impact your ability to do certain things.
The first thing you need to consider is your lifestyle and its current demands. Your second consideration is your future and the demands it will bring into your life. You don’t just want to purchase a device that will only suit your needs now. It’s better to invest in something that can support you for the next several years.
Your budget is also an important factor to consider, but there are affordable options in each category and it won’t necessarily make your decision for you. However, knowing what you can afford to spend will help you narrow down your selection towards the end of the process.
These are the top things you need to consider when deciding between a laptop, a netbook, and a tablet:
Work and school
If you need your device for work, school, or both, which functions will your device need to be capable of carrying out? Word processing can be done on all three and software such as Microsoft Word and Excel are available for most laptops, netbooks, and tablets. If you will be storing a lot of files, storage needs to be one of your foremost considerations when selecting which device to invest in. You’ll also want to consider mobility and which option will be the easiest to carry around, if that’s something you need to do. A netbook may be a better option if you’re always on the go and need your device for basic purposes such as internet access and word processing.
Your best option: laptop
Even though laptops tend to be heavier than netbooks and tablets, they are capable of carrying out every function necessary for most work and school projects. They also tend to have the most capacity for storage and can easily run many programs without slowing down. Any software, such as Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Office, or QuickBooks, can be installed and used more easily on a laptop than on a netbook or tablet with limited processing capabilities.
If you’re an avid gamer and you primarily want your new device for playing games, you can rule out netbooks. Netbooks don’t always have enough storage to support large games and their processors tend to be too weak for gaming. They also sometimes have smaller screens that make it difficult to see what’s going on. You can also rule out tablets, unless you prefer to play app games. If you want to purchase a new device to play all the latest app games, then a tablet is your obvious choice. Otherwise, you’re definitely going to want to choose a laptop.
Your best option: laptop
Laptops are best for gaming because they generally contain more storage space and have more processing power. They are also bigger and allow you to plug in multiple i/o devices such as headsets and controllers. Laptops generally have more RAM than netbooks or tablets, but this also depends on the type of laptop you buy and your budget. The better gaming laptops sit at the higher end of the price spectrum, but there are more affordable options available.
If you want your device for entertainment purposes, such as streaming videos, watching movies, chatting with friends, or reading, any of the three options will work. However, if you want it for entertainment and work or school or entertainment and gaming, you’ll still want to select a laptop. If you don’t have any other requirements for your device, your choice will come down to preference and convenience. Would you prefer a device with a built-in keyboard, or would a touch-screen suffice? Do you want something super lightweight or something a bit sturdier? Do you watch a lot of Netflix within the U.S. or outside of the U.S. using a Netflix proxy, or do you do more reading?
Your best option: netbook or tablet
While laptops can do everything, if you don’t need to do everything you’ll get more benefit from a lightweight device such as a netbook or tablet. These are easier to hold and transport and they can also last longer between charges. Tablets are ideal if you do a lot of reading and streaming, and netbooks are great for chatting, typing, and multitasking. Your decision will depend on whether you want a touch screen, a built-in keyboard, or both.
If you want to use your device for surfing the web and doing things like watching videos, reading blogs, checking your email, and shopping, you won’t need much memory or processing power. A laptop may be too much for your needs if this is all you really want to do. You can go with a much more affordable and lightweight netbook for a fraction of the price. A tablet could also suit your needs, but netbooks are a little bit more diverse and function a lot like traditional PCs. They work well for entertainment purposes too, and they don’t require expensive keyboard attachments and covers to function like a regular laptop.
Your best option: netbook
While you can never go wrong with a laptop, a netbook is the best choice for surfing the internet. Tablets are great options too, but they’re not as diverse and can’t function like a traditional computer without multiple attachments. Netbooks can even be used for work and school tasks such as notetaking, research, and report writing. They’re also good for entertainment, and having these alternative functions makes it the better choice overall.
Pros and Cons
- Great for work and school
- Plenty of memory and processing power for various software and gaming
- Built in keyboard
- Does almost anything
- Requires more energy
- Can be more expensive
- Lightweight and mobile
- More affordable
- Great for entertainment and surfing the net
- Not enough processing power for advanced software and gaming
- May be too bulky for reading and casual streaming
- Lightweight and easy to carry around
- Multi-functional and adaptable
- Perfect for reading and streaming
- No built-in USB ports, keyboards, or covers
- Can be just as expensive or more expensive than a laptop
Use this guide to establish your main priorities and decide which device will suit your needs best. Weigh the pros and cons before making a final decision and proceeding to the next step of finding the perfect product. If you want to make the best choice, consider how your needs will evolve over the next several years and how your device will be able to accommodate them.