Identifying your Needs

Knowing how you plan to use your device is the first step in answering the tablet vs. laptop question. If portable entertainment and social networking are a priority, then a lightweight tablet is worth considering. Factor in the convenience of being able to stash it away in your purse, backpack, or suitcase, and the scales tip even further. But if it’s a mobile office you need, with powerful performance and programs, then a laptop might be better option.

Comparing Devices

Laptops and tablets each have their own strengths. A tablet offers thousands of free or inexpensive apps (or application software) that offer web browsing, mobile communication, social networking and entertainment. But if creating long documents, spreadsheets, or completing office work is what you need, you may prefer a laptop with its full-fledged keyboard, touchpad, memory card reader and DVD player.

Power Requirements

A tablet generally requires less power than a laptop, and under average usage a fully-charged tablet should last nearly all day before needing to be recharged. Laptops use more power and can drain a battery in only a few hours. The convenience of a longer battery life may be an important factor to consider in deciding which device is best for you.


A slim, lightweight tablet is easy to hold and carry, lets you surf the web or play games while lying in bed or relaxing in your favourite chair, and poses less risk of overheating. Even a slender laptop is best used on a table or desk, and the device can warm up quickly without adequate air flow underneath. Where you plan to use your device can play an important part in helping you choose between a tablet and a laptop.

Operational Considerations

Laptops have plenty of storage space, plus memory card readers and USB ports to provide extra storage. When loaded with photos, videos, games and apps, tablets will reach storage capacity quicker. Uploading to cloud storage is an option, but it takes time and a Wi-Fi connection to complete. Tablets generally come with touchscreen displays that you can swipe and tap, and some can be docked to an external keyboard. Laptops can also feature a touchscreen, but come with built-in keyboards, touchpads and USB ports to add a mouse. Laptop components can be upgraded over time, while tablets are enclosed units that cannot be upgraded internally. It’s important to consider your storage, data and operating needs to help determine if a laptop or tablet will work best for you.


Whether you’re travelling for pleasure or just always on-the-go, a tablet offers some distinct advantages. It gives you quick access to email, video and social networks vs. unpacking and powering up your laptop. You can also keep up to date on the latest news while trundling about on trains and subways. And if you’re a business person, showcasing documents or presentations on a tablet is easy — you can even pass it around to colleagues.


Some tablets offer cellular connectivity that allow you to connect online anywhere there is a cell phone signal. It does require a data plan subscription, but it’s an all-in-one solution. For a laptop, you’d need to invest in a Wi-Fi stick, which is also offered by telecom companies.

Making the Choice

Laptop computers are becoming more lightweight and compact, and while there are already thousands of apps for tablets, new apps are always being developed. Though they do have similar features and functions, laptops and tablets each have their own strengths in areas such as portability, use, storage, programs and power. At the end of the day, your choice between a laptop and tablet will depend on the tasks you want to perform and how well each device supports your lifestyle.

Did you know?

Early tablets ran on basic PC operating systems. The switch to smartphone operating systems in 2010 added touchscreen technology which greatly increased their popularity.


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.

Last updated: April 8, 2014