Laptops, Convertibles, Tablets: Which Should You Choose?

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.

Laptop

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.

Tablet

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/2-In-1 Hybrid

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.


Comments

    Asus T100, one of the best mobile devices on the market IMO. Runs full Windows 8, easily converts between a tablet and a laptop, and costs less than $500.

    Last edited 28/07/14 3:38 pm

      Where can it be bough for under $500?

        Got mine from Officeworks, I found it cheaper online and then they beat it by 5%. Ended up paying about $440

          Where did you find it cheaper online?

            here pj http://www.dwidigitalcameras.com.au/astore/Asus-Transformer-Book-T100TA-DK003H-.aspx?afid=7&gclid=Cj0KEQjw6deeBRCswoauquC8haUBEiQAdq5zh5ZaDNC_oLyvi2pb2-MOLPSitb4jRP9v7tgQ2IKEoN8aAhTr8P8HAQ

            a quick google search will show you more and some even cheaper...

            I can't remember, this was several months ago now. But Officeworks will beat any online price as long as it's an Australian-based website. Here's a few:
            http://staticice.com.au/cgi-bin/search.cgi?q=asus+t100

              Do you know about Dick Smith? Because I've got a gift card for DSE and I really want the T100 for school.

    Would have thought the smart money was on waiting 'till later in the year for the new, Broadwell machines to come on the market..?

    i'm waiting on Surface Pro 3 to replace my laptop / tablet needs.

      I have surface 2 which I like very much. But I find it very difficult to type correctly on the touch cover keyboard which is an optional extra. Surface pro 3 looks very appealing. It's bigger screen and therefore bigger keyboard might improve my typing. S2 has office included but I think S pro 3 requires office to be purchased separately. S pro 3 also has the advantage of allowing any win 8 software to be installed whereas S2 is limited to apps from the windows 8 store.

        The Surface Pros have always needed to have office purchase separately and have had full Windows 8 on them.

        I figure bundling Office with the RT's was a way of still selling them reliably despite the differences between it and its Pro variant. While I have a family member who has an RT, I personally would only buy a Pro as it is much more versatile. Waiting until next month to get my hands on a Surface Pro 3!

    A much higher proportion of moving parts can mean more frequent servicing issues.

    You probably need a new laptop if it has that many moving parts...

    The downside [or a hybrid/2-in-1] is that the price is generally higher, so it’s unlikely to be a sensible choice for everyone in your organisation.

    True, but considering it's really two devices, the cost isn't that much different if you need both a tablet and a laptop...

    Laptops are the best options in my opinion as they are less complicated and easy to handle by almost everyone from kids to older people. But they need regular maintenance check ups with the help of genuine and reliable laptop service centers like the Stallion Microsystem in Kolkata at http://www.laptopservicecenter.pro/

    Last edited 30/07/14 3:19 pm

      Geez, talk about a shameless plug.

      Laptops are not "less complicated and easy to handle" than tablets, if anything they're far more complex and much less intuitive than tablets. And secondly, laptops need regular maintenance but you sure as hell don't need to take them to a laptop service centre to do so. What a dodgy business you seem to be running.

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