Using a Tablet as Your Laptop: Are You Ready to Trade Your Laptop for a Tablet and Keyboard?

2-in-1 laptops are becoming more common, integrating aspects of tablets (e.g., the touchscreen), with what we expect from laptops (desktop computer programs, a CD drive, etc.). But, now that all tablets seem to have available keyboards, are you ready to begin using a tablet as your laptop? The second question to consider, if tablets are poised to double as a laptop, is which tablet is right for you? Let’s compare the Surface with the iPad and decide which tablet is the better “laptop” option.

Microsoft is advertising the Surface as a powerful business tool, and it is. However, that doesn’t mean the iPad is only for use at the local coffee shop. Microsoft did develop their own keyboard, while Apple was content to let third party manufacturers handle theirs. However, this fact doesn’t make an iPad second tier in quality or usefulness. 

One advantage the Surface does have are digital connectors. These allow the keyboard direct access. The iPad wasn’t designed this way, which makes Bluetooth a requirement for iPad keyboards. This is another drain on your iPad battery and it can affect the iPad’s usefulness. Surface keyboards also have a trackpad, which makes for more of a laptop feel.

However, once everything is connected, the iPad reminds us why Apple products have such a following. The iPad is lighter and better suited for travel. If you will be carrying the device for long periods, you’ll definitely appreciate the iPad’s lighter weight. The Surface, however, has a better aspect ratio for video. Ironically this makes it the better ‘toy.’ Of course, in no way does this make it less of a business machine.

Microsoft Office is a big selling point in regards to productivity. However, the Surface Pro 2 doesn’t come with a free version of Office. This flagship Microsoft program does come with the non-pro Surface 2. This factor alone may make the Surface 2 the best of the Microsoft tablets to use as a laptop. On the other hand, iPad now has free Office apps. There is a catch. The Office apps are read-only, unless you get a $7/month subscription to Office 365.

In the end, two of the most important factors are price and the amount of storage space needed. The Surface Pro 2 provides greater processing power, while sacrificing a little portability. The Surface 2 is the least expensive choice. Apple’s iPad’s are lighter, feature better displays, and have a longer battery life. The final factor might be App selection. Apple clearly has the lead here, as their product has been around much longer.

If you are ready to begin using your tablet as your laptop, there are several choices. None of the choices are perfect for everyone, but as tablets have matured they have become more versatile. It is possible to make this step, as long as you choose based on your own specific needs.