Even if you've decided that mobile phones will only play a relatively minimal role in your environment (calls, texts, emails and basic browsing), your mobile choices have only just begun. The conventional laptop still plays a vital role, but now competes with tablet machines and hybrids (which can convert from tablet to laptop form as needed) for corporate attention. Here's our take on when each form factor makes sense.
Hardware picture from Shutterstock
Note that from a security perspective, there's relatively little to choose from here: there are undoubtedly more security features on a pure Windows-based system than with other choices, but since that's an option across all of these form factors, that alone is unlikely to be the deciding factor.
This is an extract from Lifehacker's ebook Making Mobility Real: How To Choose The Right Tech For Your Business. You can download the entire ebook for free here.
In many workplaces, the laptop is now the default choice (laptop sales worldwide have outstripped desktops for several years). Connected to an external monitor and keyboard, it has no functional difference to a conventional desktop; away from the desk, it's a full-powered computing device that lets you get work done on the road. Price/performance ratios for laptops remain impressive, and they offer much better storage capacity than any tablet or convertible. Their most obvious downside? A much higher proportion of moving parts can mean more frequent servicing issues.
Tablets offer three potential advantages over laptops: extreme portability (you can fit a 7-inch size model in a suit pocket), expansive battery life (5 hours is typical and 10 hours isn't unheard of) and singularity of focus. That makes them particularly popular choices for workers who need to travel, although it's a rare person who does their work solely from a tablet.
A far more common scenario is to use a laptop (or desktop) in the office for day-to-day tasks and content creation, and use a tablet away from the desk or on brief trips. The addition of external accessories (such as a Bluetooth keyboard or mouse) does make the tablet a more viable alternative for ongoing work, but if you've entered that territory than either a convertible or a thin Ultrabook-style design may be a better choice. Screen sizes typically range from 7 inches to 10 inches; the smaller sizes work better with one hand, the larger screens are suitable for more data-intensive use cases.
Convertible (or 2-in-1 hybrid) designs aim to combine the best features of laptops and tablets: a full keyboard and operating system when you need them, and the ability to work in a touch-only environment when you don't. Designs vary, but typically allow you to either detach or rotate the keyboard so that the device only has access via the screen. If staff regularly work on both a laptop or a tablet, then a convertible can be a sensible choice, since you only have to carry and secure one device and one charger. The downside is that the price is generally higher, so it's unlikely to be a sensible choice for everyone in your organisation.