smartphone-tablet-laptoSmartphone, tablet, mini tablet, laptop...having choices is great, but with so many computing options available multiplied by the number of brands, sometimes it feels like it would be easier to simply choose between laptops again. The key to navigating through the world of personal tech today is to truly understand what you need out of your technology and then to select the option that meets those needs and eliminates the non necessities. So, let’s dive into the options.

Smartphone

The majority of people don’t consider their smartphone a replacement to a laptop or tablet, because even though it is essentially a mini computer, browsing the Internet or writing up documents is fairly difficult without a larger screen or keyboard. The benefit of the smartphone is that wherever you are, it’s easy to stay connected via phone, text and email without having to carry a huge device around.

Tablet

Unlike the smartphone, many people choose to get by on a tablet, as they can easily be converted into a miniature computer by using the right apps and hooking up a keyboard. The benefits of using a tablet over a laptop include the small size, which makes it easily transportable, and the long-lasting battery. Of course, not all tablets are created equal, so you will have to put in the extra effort for getting the right setup in order to get the same functionality as a laptop.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Screen Size: On average a tablet’s screen size will be 10 inches. Most laptops start at 13 inches or larger, so if you frequently look at multiple spreadsheets at once or simply have poor eyesight, that could be an issue. On the other hand, the smaller size can be an asset if you frequently carry your computer on the go.
  • Accessories: When selecting the type of tablet you want, one of the most important aspects to consider is the accessories that you can get with it, since it does vary by brand. The iPad, for example, doesn’t offer a USB connection for a mouse or flash drive, but the Nexus 10 does.
  • Apps: Before purchasing a tablet, consider the computer programs you use regularly, and check to see if there is an app equivalent. Microsoft Office is not currently available, but certain alternatives are, such as Google’s Quickoffice suite. Document storage apps also abound, from Dropbox to Evernote.

Laptop

Of course, for full performance, a laptop is still the way to go, but once you’ve decided to get a laptop, you're not done making choices just yet. Things to consider:

  • Weight: If you want your computer to be portable, weight is an important consideration, assuming that you don’t want a constant shoulder ache. In general, look for an option that weighs less than six pounds.
  • Screen Size: 13 inch screens are generally about the right size for most users, as it provides a nice view without being awkward to carry.
  • Battery Life: The sad truth about battery power in laptops is that it will go down overtime, and even laptops with the best batteries can only last a two to three hours, so don’t spend too much time worrying about this, and remember to bring the cord.
  • Storage Device: Traditionally, laptops used hard disk drives for data storage. They were used primarily because they were cheap and offered a large amount of storage. However, some manufacturers are switching over to flash array storage, which offers less storage space but is significantly faster than hard disk.

With this information, you should be ready to go out and make a purchase. Good luck!