With so many different devices available today which is the right device for me? Today we will take a look at the difference between tablets and notebooks and what should factor in your decision. Watching the TV commercials from the different vendors of these devices you would think that you pick a tablet or notebook in the same matter as you pick out accessories for clothes. And that the technologies are irrelevant or undistinguished. No matter how stylish these devices have become technology still matters.  The line between what a tablet is and what a notebook is have been blurred.  Once upon a time the main difference between a notebook and a tablet was the size and shape and a stylus. That is no longer the case. Nowadays tablets are usually considered devices that can be used without a keyboard while notebooks usually come with a keyboard. And for the sake of argument let’s say that tablets and notebooks have a screen size of at least 7” – in other words we are going to leave smartphones out of the conversation – at least to some point. So what are the important factors that enter into the decision process?  The first questions you need to ask yourself are, “What do I need it for? What do I want it to do?” Once you have determined what it is you want to accomplish then you need to pick the applications (apps) that do the best job of accomplishing these tasks.  Once you have determined the applications that best suit your needs then comes the hard part – picking the “platform” that those applications run on. The trick here is that not all apps run on all platforms.  As with many things in life your decision for which platform you run comes with some tradeoffs.

Let’s look at your choices of platforms. Platforms are usually defined by the Operating System (OS) that the device uses. For example Microsoft’s Windows Operating System (OS) is a platform with Windows 8 being the newest version of that platform and is what powers most PCs and Notebooks. Apple’s iOS is the platform (or Operating System) used by Apple’s smartphones (iPhones) and tablets (iPads). Google’s Android is the Operating System (or platform) that is used by a wide variety of smartphones (Samsung, Motorola, etc…) and tablets (Google Nexus, Samsung Galaxy, etc…). These are the three main platforms in use today – Microsoft Windows, Google’s Android, and Apple’s iOS.

Now that we have a better understanding of what a platform is let’s get back to that all important question, “What do I need it for? What do I want it to do?” If you want it for work and need to do more than email and web surfing then your best bet is probably to stick with a Windows based notebook. Need to work on a spreadsheet in Excel or format a sales proposal in Word? For practical purposes that means either a Windows platform or an Apple laptop/notebook although Windows is the predominate platform for business and while you can run Windows “apps” on a Mac (a story for another day) for the most part the most cost effective  way is probably to stick with a Windows based notebook.

Want something more personal that runs the same apps your smartphone uses such as FaceBook, Pinterest, or watch a movie, play a game, need GPS directions, Yelp for a restaurant, track a flight, plan a trip, shop smart, etc…? Then an Android or iOS tablet may be more to your liking. Because they run on the same platform (or OS) as your smartphone most of your apps will work without any problem. I would advise that you stick with the same platform on your tablet as you have on your smartphone. For example if you buy music and movies on your iPhone you can’t play them on an Android tablet but you can play them on your iPad. And if you buy games for your Android based Samsung Galaxy smartphone you can’t run them on your iPad (which is iOS based).

So picking your platform comes with tradeoffs and is probably the most important decision when choosing a notebook or a tablet. Want to run the most popular mobile apps and you’re probably looking at an Android or iOS based system. Want to get work done then you’re probably looking at a Windows based system. I suggest you see what apps are most important to you and then based on what “platform” they run on get a device running that platform.  Or you can do what some people do and get BOTH a Windows based notebook and an Android or iOS tablet (a la Jerry Jones and Deion Sanders). The next question is size, shape, and color. Does this tablet make me look fat? The answer to that question is much easier – it’s ALWAYS “no” – unless you want your next platform to be the dog house.