Deciding between a tablet vs a laptop? We compare them to help you decide.

Working on important documents, watching online videos or surfing the Internet starts with a device that keeps you connected. Two excellent options rise to the top when deciding what tech works best for you, each with distinct advantages: a tablet or a laptop.

What to consider with tablets and laptops

What to consider

  1. Portability and size
  2. Performance
  3. Battery life
  4. Display
  5. Storage capacity
  6. Connectivity

This comparison guide will help you to make the right decision when purchasing a tablet or a laptop based on your needs and budget.

two people using a tablet and laptop on a table


Portability and size

Taking your apps, documents and files with you when you’re on the go is essential, so portability is must. Generally, tablets are smaller and lighter than laptops are and range in size between 7-11 inches, like the 10.1″ ACER Iconia One. Laptops tend to be heavier, due to their combined screen and keyboard weight, and range between 12-17 inches. This Asus 15.6″ laptop is a perfect example of a laptop that falls right in the middle.

Two-in-one laptop/tablet hybrid devices, such as the RCA Windows 2 in 1 Tablet, tend to fall somewhere in the middle in terms of weight and size. Many of them feature detachable keyboards so you can switch between the tablet and laptop configurations.

If portability is a major consideration, you’re better off opting for a tablet. If you don’t mind the extra bulk, a laptop is better for productivity and can run a wider range of software.



While tablets can easily stream videos, run apps and use the Internet without a hitch, multitasking and resource-intensive software is better served with a laptop. Laptops pack in more powerful chipsets, including better central processing units (CPUs) and graphics processing units (GPUs), getting you closer to a desktop experience.


Battery life

The newest tablets typically boast 10-15 hours of battery power while doing light activities such as browsing the web or checking email. Intensive tasks like streaming video will consume more power, meaning you’ll need to recharge more frequently. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to look for tablets promising at least seven hours of continuous operation. A bonus with tablets is charging cables are affordable and easy to find, but make sure you’re getting the right charger if you have an iPad.

Laptops, in general, have less battery life than tablets and therefore need charging more often. The average laptop battery lasts six to eight hours; however, some spec-heavy machines can last as few as only two or three hours. If you plan on working for hours on the go, we recommend getting a portable power pack to ensure your laptop stays optimally charged.



When it comes to display resolution, it really depends on the manufacturer and specific device. Tablets have a wider range of possible resolutions, generally ranging between 800×1280, to a crisp 2560×1700. Laptops typically land somewhere in the middle, with 1366×768 the common resolution for sub-$1,000 laptops, and 1920×1080 the norm for higher-end devices.

Tablets are all touchscreen, but many allow you to connect a keyboard if you need to email, desktop publish or play games. Most laptops used to feature navigation done with a trackpad or USB-connected mouse, but that’s quickly becoming a thing of the past and you can find more touchscreen laptops than ever before, like with the HP 15.6 Inch Touchscreen Laptop.


Storage capacity

Tablets are designed for portability, so they use flash memory that weighs significantly less than internal hard drives inside standard laptops. They also tend to have lower capacities, generally in the 16-64GB range. Flash memory also consumes less battery power and has faster access speeds than traditional drives.

It’s common to find budget-friendly laptops with a 500GB hard drive. More expensive laptops can come with 1TB or more space. This gives you ample room to store the software you need for work, games and other applications. Some laptops also boast solid state drives (SSDs), which significantly reduces loading and startup time.



Ports and peripherals

Tablets usually have minimal ports—mainly a 3.5mm headphone jack and a charge port. This is to keep the device as thin and light as possible. If you require a USB port, SD card reader, Ethernet port or display port, we recommend going with a standard laptop.

Wireless connectivity

Tablets, laptops and hybrids are pretty equal across the board when it comes to wireless connectivity. Tablets can come with the added bonus of cellular data connectivity features. This requires a cellular package, which you can purchase through most phone providers.

Side view of laptop with various cords plugged into ports

Other Considerations

OSs and Apps

Operating systems and apps

The operating system your device uses is incredibly important. It dictates the interface’s look and feel and what software will run on it. Most tablets offer either Apple iOS, Android OS or Microsoft Windows. Laptops commonly run Windows or MacOS, while Chromebooks use the Chrome OS, with Chromebooks made after 2017 being guaranteed to run Android apps.

The store you’ll access for applications (apps) depends on your device’s operating system.

Operating SystemApp Store
AppleApple App Store
Android/ChromeGoogle Play Store
WindowsMicrosoft Store

Uses for tablets vs. laptops

To get a better sense of whether you should go with a tablet or a laptop, here are lists of what each device is best suited for. A hybrid, on the other hand, can give you the best of both worlds.


To get a better sense of whether you should go with a tablet or a laptop, here are lists of what each device is best suited for. A hybrid, on the other hand, can give you the best of both worlds.

Best uses for tablets

  • Mobile gaming: From Pokémon Go to Candy Crush, there are thousands of mobile games for you to try.
  • Movies and music: Tablets are great for watching movies and listening to music, whether they are downloaded or used with streaming services.
  • Reading: Tablets make great eReaders, and they’re ultra-lightweight and ideal for reading.
  • Web-browsing: Because tablets run on lean operating systems, you’ll be able to browse the web, shop online and use social media faster than using a laptop.

Best uses for laptops

  • Work and school: Laptops are designed to run resource-heavy software programs like Microsoft Office and Photoshop with ease, making them better for work and school related tasks.
  • Gaming: Laptops with powerful GPUs and sufficient RAM are ideal for portable gaming.
  • Full Keyboard: Laptops feature keyboards, so they’re better suited for tasks like word processing or email.
  • Versatility: Laptops typically have USB ports, allowing you to connect devices like a mouse, webcam or microphone.

Best uses of hybrids

  • Flexibility: You can choose whether you use it as a tablet or a laptop, depending on what you need to get done.
  • More Storage: Hybrids offer the storage capacity of a laptop with the functionality of a tablet.
  • Affordability: You don’t have to buy two devices to get the benefits of owning both.
  • Touchscreen: Because hybrids function as tablets, they’re designed with touchscreen capabilities.

Students with smartphones, tablet and laptop leaning against a white brick wall

The most important considerations when deciding between a tablet or a laptop are:

  • How you intend to use it.
  • Your software and app needs.
  • The performance you require.

Tablets are better equipped for light tasks, such as web browsing and watching movies. They’re also generally much lighter than laptops. On the flip side, laptops offer more power and more functionality, but also extra weight. If you really can’t decide between them, a hybrid gives you the best of both worlds and can save you money.

Legal: This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.