Posted June 4, 2012 by Jason Levy 

Laptop or Tablet?

Do you work on the go? If so, you are probably wondering if a tablet can replace your laptop? Much of the time, I can use my tablet as a primary device during the workday, but I have found some limitations.

Both of my tablet devices are Wi-Fi only, so I am limited in that I must be on either a wireless network or use my cellular hot spot or cell phone as a hot spot. While this may not seem like an issue, there are still areas on my campus where Wi-Fi and/or cellular service are spotty or nonexistent. This is an issue with a laptop as well. However, it less of an issue when using a laptop as I am not tied to apps or cloud services.

There are a few solutions for this concern. You could purchase a cellular-enabled tablet. This way, you don’t need Wi-Fi to connect, but the limitations of cellular service still exist. This option is more costly, and your organization may not support it. These are similar concerns when purchasing a myfi hot spot. There are monthly charges for a data plan. The upsides of myfi include that it is easy-to-use and has decent battery life; it allows others to connect as well.

A second choice may be to purchase apps that can use on-device storage for notes or other information, and then sync to the cloud when back on the network. Microsoft Office applications and basic note apps will typically let users store locally when not connected to the cloud. The better Microsoft Office applications for tablets can be purchased from your online store of choice for a small cost. Most of these stand-alone apps cost less than $20 and are tied to a user rather than a device. The better note apps are either free or low cost.

Another use for laptops that has not yet moved well to tablets is the portable presentation. Using PowerPoint, Key Note, or Prezi on a tablet and being able to connect that tablet to audio-visual resources in meeting rooms or other spaces around campus is unreliable. Having a laptop or even a low-end netbook in these situations is useful. Many meeting or conference rooms have VGA or other audio-visual connections to either projectors or screens, but there is still no standard for tablets.

You can be productive on the go with a tablet. I have found apps for the mobile world that also work on my computer, such as DropBox,, Google Docs, and Evernote—all let me use any device at any time, and I just need to be diligent about where I store my work.

What devices do you use? What tricks or tips do you have to share?


Jason Levy

Jason Levy is the Director, Student Center at Temple University.


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