When laptops hit the market they were a rage – everyone had to have one.  No longer was the global workforce chained to a desk, for with the laptop came the liberating freedom of mobility.   Fast-forward another few years to the introduction of the tablet and smartphones, and suddenly the entire physical landscape of modern computing has changed.   Unlimited mobility is no longer a luxury but a given, and each device seems to offer more and more through the context of less physical space.  With multiple device options and BYOD on the rise in many organizations, the addition of devices can undoubtedly increase the Total Cost of Telecom™ (TCT™).

The explosion in mobile computing has essentially left the laptop in its dust, and with users asking, “So I have a smartphone and a tablet, where does my laptop fit in?”

Laptop computers, portable and convenient as they are, have lost much of the luster once bestowed upon them.  Here are a few reasons:

  • Heavy – most laptops weigh between 3 and 9 pounds.  That’s like carrying around a small dog in your bag.
  • Ease of use – laptops must be fully charged and powered up in order to function.  This process can vary greatly depending on the age and quality of your hardware.  In the end, you have to wait at the least an agonizing few minutes before you can jump onto Facebook.
  • Ergonomics – carrying some significant weight to them, laptops become an ergonomic detriment to the carrier, causing back, neck, and joint pain.  Many an orthopedic surgeon owes his client base, maybe even his entire practice, to the laptop.

Tablets and smartphones, on the other hand, have come to prominence for the very reasons the laptop falls short:

  • Portability – tablets (most weighing less than a pound) slip easily into a briefcase or notebook and smartphones can be toted around in your pocket or purse.
  • Interactivity – using a touchscreen rather than a keyboard, your finger becomes the stylus, providing a much more tactile experience.  Tablets are widely used in educational settings and for special needs children who have difficulty with fine motor skills such as keyboard or mouse usage.
  • Convenience – as with the smartphone, your tablet is usually ready to go with the swipe of a finger.  Photos, videos, books and music can be stored and accessed quickly.
  • Battery – tablets and smartphones have longer battery lives than typical laptops.

As society continues to move down the ‘less is more’ path in personal computing, it becomes clear, however, that less is not always better.  Laptop computers do still offer benefits over tablets and smartphones in a number of key areas:

  • Keyboard – for anyone who has had the (frustrating) experience of typing out a long email or blog on a tablet knows the relief of getting back onto a physical keyboard.  Less mistakes, faster typing and more accurate content result.
  • Screen – typical laptop screens are 13 inches or larger, compared with an average screen size of only 8 inches for tablets, and much smaller for smartphones.
  • Multitasking – working on a laptop makes toggling between multiple programs a cinch, allowing the user to view them with ease.

When it comes to choosing between a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, it becomes a question of necessity:  which device is right for the intended job?  For convenience and speed, the tablet or smartphone is the hands-down winner.  However, for real, hands-on work purposes, the laptop computer still has a place in our repertoire of gadgets, and it likely will for some time to come.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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