Ultrabook vs. tablet vs. laptop

Which device is the perfect fit for you?

Experts predict that tablets will spell the death of PCs as consumers move toward mobility and convenience. But for some people, a tablet is insufficient for their daily needs. Desktops and laptops are still the only devices that pack enough power for gamers and graphic designers. And tablets lack the comfortable keyboards available with laptops and desktops.

Image credit: iStockPhoto

Image credit: iStockPhoto

If you’re considering purchasing a new device in the near future, and you aren’t sure which is best for you, here are some pros and cons of each option that may help.


Smartphones can be partly credited for the growing popularity of tablets. Consumers have grown accustomed to working with apps rather than software, with touchscreens rather than mouse pointers. One of the biggest benefits to a tablet is its portability. It’s far easier to tuck a tablet into the pocket of a briefcase and carry it through airport security, for instance. But whether a tablet is the right choice for you depends on your individual needs.

Before choosing a tablet, be sure it will hold all of the software you need. Sure, tablets now work with the ever-popular Microsoft Office suite, but will creating and working with Word and Excel documents using a tablet screen work for you on a daily basis?

Tablets are ideal for personal use and presentations. The traveling executive, for instance, will love the convenience of creating and sharing PowerPoint slides on the device. Conversely, someone who merely wants to watch movies, play games, and read e-books will likely enjoy the format of a tablet over a much bulkier laptop.


Twenty years ago, laptops were an expensive alternative to desktop PCs. But over time they became popular because consumers loved their portability. These days, tablets have changed public perception. Now laptops are the ones that seem bulky, heavy, and problematic—especially the ones that have a battery life of only a couple of hours.

Laptops are no longer a tool of the traveler. Home and office users choose a laptop over a desktop because of its versatility. It can be taken home or on business trips when necessary and users have the luxury of surfing the Internet while relaxing in their Barcalounger. If you need the full power of a desktop with the portability of a tablet, a laptop may be the best choice for you.


An ultrabook provides a great compromise for those who need some of the features of a tablet with the keyboard and other features that a laptop brings. Ultrabooks also have the benefit of long battery life and instant-on technology—two features that can be very attractive to everyday users.

As you choose between an ultrabook, laptop, or tablet, keep in mind such features as battery life, especially if you plan to be away from a power outlet for hours at a time. Laptops can be heavier, but there are lighter models that may serve as a great alternative to heavier models.

In the end, the best choice is the one that supports your own needs. Determine which applications you’ll need and be realistic about what you’ll need to complete your daily tasks. Tablets and ultrabooks are great for many consumers, but they aren’t robust enough for some users. Be sure you choose the option that’s right for you, regardless of what experts are saying.

Stephanie Faris
Stephanie Faris has worked in information systems since 1999, served as a help desk supervisor and hearing multimedia coordinator for the State of Tennessee. Stephanie’s writing has appeared in The Motley Fool, SmallBizTechnology.com and Dataversity.net. Her first novel, 30 Days of No Gossip, is scheduled for release by Simon & Schuster in March 2014.
Stephanie Faris
Tags: Downtime,Gadgets & Devices
  • Rufus Valencia II

    I think too much is made of traveling with a laptop. Sure, laptops may weigh a bit more than tablets or Ultrabooks, but laptops offer so much more that tablets or Ultrabooks. If one only wants to have their device for watching movies, playing games, etc. then I agree a laptop is not the way to go. However, for one who actually will be using their device for real business the laptop (at least at this point in time) is the only way to go. Buying a lighter weight laptop makes it easier to lug around, and if one is a frequent traveler then registering with the TSA is the only way to go anyway. Once approved with the TSA, no longer will one have to take out one’s laptop or take off one’s shoes/belt at the airport. To me this is money well spent for those who are in and out of our airports on a weekly basis.