Are you looking to get one or more new computers for your business?
Whether you’re finally upgrading from an older device or just trying to decide what to outfit your workforce with, choosing the ideal business computer has never been more difficult.
A lack of options isn’t the problem—quite the opposite. Even if you were just looking for laptops, you could spend days going through lists of devices made by companies that all claim that theirs is the best option for you and your team.
But depending on your business’s needs, it may not even be necessary for you to stick with traditional laptops; you may very well be able to opt for their lighter and more nimble counterparts: tablets.
But how do you know which is better to go with? And where do 2-in-1 devices, such as Microsoft’s Surface Pro series fit into the mix?
We’ll explore these topics and more in this article so that you come out of it with a clear understanding of how to choose the best device for your business.
What’s the difference between a tablet and a laptop?
When you think of a tablet, it’s easy to imagine them as smaller versions of laptops; after all, if you remove a laptop’s keyboard, you essentially have what looks like a typical tablet. But it’s actually more appropriate to imagine tablets as larger versions of smartphones.
Just to give you an example, Apple’s Ipads run on an operating system that’s based on the iOS system used by their iPhone devices, rather than being based on macOS.
This means that, like smartphones, tablets have to efficiently use their batteries so that they can perform basic tasks like email, internet, and running certain apps, as well as a computer.
For the most part, tablets perform these basic tasks well, but like smartphones, they tend to fall short for more specialized tasks. We’ll explore the pros and cons of laptops, tablets, and 2-in-1 devices in more detail below.
- Higher-performance — The majority of laptops come with internal fans that help cool processors when doing complex tasks. For instance, you’ve probably heard your laptop’s fans turn on when running too many apps simultaneously or while having too many Google Chrome Tabs open at once. Keeping the devices’ processors cool is essential to maintaining optimal performance, especially when completing more complex tasks.
- Greater Storage Capabilities — Laptops use traditional hard drives, and because of this, they have more storage capacity than laptops, on average. It’s not uncommon for laptops to come with as much as 1 Terabyte of storage, and you can usually swap the storage out with another to increase this capacity or attach it to an external hard drive.
- Physical Keyboard — There’s no question that it’s easier to type on a keyboard than it is to type with a touchscreen on your phone or tablet. Touch screens are perfect for putting together simple text messages or writing basic emails, but you won’t write up a report with them, and you certainly wouldn’t want to use it for data entry into a spreadsheet. Laptops come with a keyboard as a standard, and different types of laptops offer different options for what extra keys you have to work with, usually depending on whether or not you go with a PC, a Mac, or a Linux device. However, these differences are often trivial.
- Docking Station Capability — With laptops, you have the option to connect it to monitors, keyboards, mouses, and other devices that make it feel more like you’re using a traditional desktop. This has a lot to do with whether or not your device has enough ports to support a smooth experience with this, though you can usually find a way to make it work with external ports and adaptors.
- Larger Screen Size — It comes as no surprise that most laptops have larger screens than tablets. This especially makes a difference when you have to navigate huge spreadsheets or even when you’re trying to see all the thumbnails participants during a video call.
- Touchscreen Capabilities — Depending on which device you get, your laptop could come with touchscreen capabilities just like a tablet. Microsoft’s Surface Book Series is one such device with this capability.
- Broader Application Access — If you opt for laptops, especially ones that use Windows, you and your workforce will have access to a broad selection of apps that simply aren’t available for tablets.
- Heavier/Less Portable — While laptops are certainly more portable than desktops, which are stuck at your workstation, laptops are still comparatively heavier than tablets. The bulk of laptops weigh in at around 3-pounds.
- Greater Security Needs — Most malware is designed specifically for laptop devices, especially PCs, so you’ll need to invest in business-level cybersecurity if you want to keep your proprietary information out of the wrong hands.
- Less Targeted by Malware — Mobile devices aren’t susceptible to most viruses because they run on a different operating system than laptops, so you can worry less about getting viruses on your tablet. It is still possible to catch a virus, of course, and there are other security concerns that warrant the consideration of mobile device security.
- Cloud Can Expand Storage — Mobile devices like tablets come with less storage built into the device, but that can be supplemented by a business cloud system/infrastructure like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure.
- Lighter and More portable — Most tablets come in at around .5 to 2 pounds, which makes them easier to lug around while catching a flight. Their compact size also makes them easier to store and handle, which is ideal when doing on-site work or having a conference call while out of the office.
- Built-in Touch Screen — While only some computers come with a touchscreen, all tablets have it built-in. And if you get a good stylus to go with it, you’ll be able to do a lot more with your device.
- Less ergonomic — Most tablets don’t come with a dedicated keyboard, and those that do can’t be expected to perform as well as a laptop keyboard for long-term use. You can get accessories that enhance the device’s ergonomics, but at that point, you may as well go with a laptop.
- Fewer Ports — Most tablets simply have less space for ports, which means you won’t be able to connect to several monitors and other peripheral add-ons that could enhance your work experience.
- Mobile Apps Only — This is perhaps one of the biggest letdowns for most business owners. With tablets, you can only run mobile applications, which is a problem if you need to use more heavy-duty apps such as Photoshop or Premiere Pro. Most apps have a mobile version nowadays, but they usually fall short of their laptop counterparts.
- Less Powerful — Most tablets aren’t large enough to have internal fans, and because of that, their peak processing power tends to be lower than laptops.
2-in-1 Devices: The compromise you’ve been looking for?
These devices aren’t necessarily a new phenomenon, but their most recent iterations have caught the attention of business owners from all over, especially Microsoft’s Surface Pro series.
The earliest device that could be considered a 2-in-1 device is the Compaq Concerto, which was released in 1993. Since then, they’ve only continued to evolve into better and better versions. Below we’ll explore some of the main benefits of using a 2-in-1 device.
- Lighter and More Powerful — These devices can be lighter than a laptop, depending on which version you get. For instance, if you go with a simple Surface Pro model or the Lenovo ThinkPad X-12, you’ll probably get something lighter than most laptops. But if you go with the Surface Book, you’ll actually be getting a 2-in-1 that’s heavier than many laptops. But what you gain in weight, you also gain in power. Many 2-in-1 devices even have space for fans.
- Great At Work & On The Go — 2-in-1 devices come with keyboards and trackpads, so they’re automatically more ergonomically friendly compared to tablets. Because of their generally smaller size, they can easily fit into a messenger bag or suitcase without weighing you down too much, and they also tend to come with more ports than tablets, so you can connect them to a couple of monitors and other peripheral devices.
- Touch Screen Functionality — Like tablets, 2-in-1 devices always come with touch screens, but unlike tablets, you have the option to go back and forth between the screen and your keyboard.
- Detailed Work — Because of their greater processing power, trackpad, and computer operating system, you’re more likely to be able to comfortably handle detailed work on 2-in-1 devices, such as entering data into spreadsheets, coding, or editing in Photoshop.
Important security considerations for using tablets in the business context
Tablets aren’t susceptible to computer viruses, but there are still several ways they could compromise your business’s IT security if not handled carefully.
For one, many data breaches aren’t caused by someone hacking into your business’s network or devices but instead by exploiting your people through various forms of phishing attacks.
A key ingredient in preventing the exploitation of your workforce by cybercriminals is education and awareness of the threats they need to look out for, both of which can be achieved with strong mobile device management (MDM) solutions and programs.
Mobile device management solutions utilize software to help your business both provision and protect your mobile devices, whether they be tablets, laptops, or smartphones. This not only helps keep your devices secure it also makes it easy to keep track of them and their usage.
You can use MDM programs to manage who has what devices and how much access those devices have to certain systems in your business—an executive’s provisions device will likely have clearance to access private files that a middle manager wouldn’t.
To mitigate human error, MDM policies and training should be put into place to make sure that all employees understand the best practices for keeping their devices secure. Such training should also be continually updated on at least an annual basis to stay relevant to the times.
Another important thing to keep in mind when considering tablets for you or your whole business is that IT support for business tablets isn’t as common as support for laptops or desktops.
Questions to ask before deciding between tablets vs. laptops for your business
Choosing between tablets and laptops for your business can be a hard decision to make, but sweating the details with this decision can save you a significant amount of time and money; the last thing you want to happen is to purchase a fleet of devices only to return them dissatisfied.
To help you avoid that unfortunate outcome, we’ve put together a couple of questions you should ask when trying to figure out what type of device your business really needs:
- What use cases would a tablet be best for compared to a traditional laptop?
- Is there enough value to justify buying a tablet instead of just working with the limitations of a laptop?
- There are some tablets that are incredibly powerful and can handle business tasks, but they can also run for a high price. Do their convenience and portability justify such high costs to your business?
- Regardless of whether or not you choose to have tablets in your business’s fleet, you’re almost certain to still use laptops or desktops, which use different operating systems than tablets and other mobile devices. Will your business be able to successfully integrate these multiple operating systems into your existing IT systems?
- Tablets are great for travel due to their size and lightweight, but does a large enough portion of your workforce travel so frequently as to warrant the adoption of tablets?
- Do your business applications rely on devices with more processing power?
Settle on which the best device for your business
Tablets offer a suite of great features and perks that can really enhance your business’s workflow, processes, and even culture.
But they certainly fall short in many areas that laptops still excel at. But whether your business chooses to adopt one or the other depends on your preferences.
If you decide that tablets aren’t right for you at the moment, that’s perfectly fine; their technology is only going to keep on improving as the lines between mobile devices and computers continue to blur.
- What’s the Difference Between Tablets and Laptops? — The biggest difference is that tablets and laptops run on different operating systems. Other major differences include the fact that tablets are all touchscreens and lack keyboards, whereas laptops tend not to have touchscreens and always have keyboards. Most computer viruses are built for computers.
- The Pros and Cons of Laptops — The pros include: higher performance, greater storage capabilities, a physical keyboard, docking station capabilities, larger screen sizes, touchscreen capabilities (depending on the model), and broader application access. The cons include heavier weight, less portability, and greater security needs.
- The Pros and Cons of Tablets — The pros include: tablets are less targeted by malware, can utilize the cloud to overcome what they lack in built-in storage capacity, are lighter and more portable, and have a built-in touch screen. The Cons include: they are less ergonomic, have fewer ports that you can use to connect to monitors and other peripherals, use mobile apps only, and are generally less powerful than computers.
- 2-in-1 Devices — The main benefits of 2-in-1 devices include their built-in touch screen functionality and ergonomic design, their ability to handle more detailed business tasks, their ability to work as well at a workstation as on the go generally lighter weight, and their processing power.
- Security Considerations for Tablets — While tablets are generally less likely to get infected by viruses, they’re still vulnerable to a slew of other cybersecurity threats. To properly mitigate these threats, it’s best to adopt a mobile device management solution and implement mobile device management programs/policies across your business. Before adopting tablets, you should also keep in mind that they tend to have less IT support available.
- Questions to Ask Before Choosing Tablets or Laptops — To help you decide whether or not laptops or tablets are best for your business workforce, you should try to answer several questions related to how much you would use a tablet, how you might justify the cost, and other important considerations.
Are your business devices secure?
Ever since the rise of laptops as the go-to device for businesses looking to purchase a computer, the question of how you keep these devices and the private data on them secure has been a pressing question.
There are a number of ways to address this question, from deploying mobile device management (MDM) software to having company training on the matter.
But how do you choose the right software solution to use for MDM? What’s the best way to tackle the training—and who should be facilitating it in your organization?
All of these questions are legitimate and necessary to consider when thinking about expanding or simply protecting your business’s fleet of devices. But regardless of their importance, you may not have the time or wherewithal to answer them properly.
In which case, it may be worth working with an MSP like Commprise to take care of MDM for your business. Our team of professionals never offer cookie-cutter solutions to IT challenges because each business requires solutions tailored to their unique situation.
See it for yourself by booking a call with us today!