You’ve probably heard this before: “Man, tablets look great! They are thin, light and easy to carry! You have to ditch your laptop and get one of these!”

Hold on there, cowboy. Particularly for all those college students out there, there are things about a laptop that don’t work the same on a tablet. Before you toss your laptop on a shelf in lieu of the latest tablet, there are some things you should know.

Tablets Don’t Have Local Storage

What Students Need To Know

Image via FastcoDesign.com

When you’ve using a laptop, you get used to having local storage in the form of a hard drive. While you’ll still be able to access your DSL.com high-speed Internet account through a tablet, for example, you won’t have a hard drive to instantly save your information.

Some people will insist that you can make up for the loss of local storage on a tablet with a USB drive, but USB drives are easy to lose and they do not hold as much as the largest hard drive. Another solution could be using cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive, SugarSync, iCloud, Box or others. However, it’s good to be aware that these services aren’t completely secure. 

Tablets Lack a Hard-Wired Internet Connection

When you’re using a tablet, your only Internet connection options are WiFi or cellular service. That means that the hard-wired Internet connection you enjoy on your laptop at home or in your dorm would no longer exist. There are no network connections on a tablet, which means that you will have to rely on unstable (and often slower) wireless networks to give you your Internet connection at all times.

Of course, wireless connections are becoming more stable all the time. However, if you’re working with any sensitive information, they’re less secure. And gaming sessions in your dorm room can be abruptly and rudely halted if your connection suddenly drops.

Laptops Have More Processing Power

Before the trading in your laptop for tablet, he may want to know that the processing power on a tablet is nowhere near what it is on a laptop. A laptop was designed to be a portable computer with the ability to use spreadsheets, design graphics and build websites. Tablets were designed to stream movies, run lightweight apps, and be used for ebooks.

The processing power of a tablet does not even approach the power of a laptop. This is particularly important for students who are involved in fields of study that require heavy processing power – these would include photographers, web developers, graphic designers, audio engineers, and more. If you’re majoring in any of these things, you’ll want to think twice about completely ditching your laptop.

Data Input is Far Easier on Laptops

The only way to input data into a tablet is through the touchscreen keyboard. You can try to connect a USB Windows keyboard to your tablet, but remember that most tablets don’t use Windows. There is no guarantee that the Windows keyboard will work. A laptop not only has a larger keyboard, but it also allows for a USB keyboard to be attached to it for added convenience.

This can be particularly important when you’re writing one of those massive midterm papers. Having to type the whole thing out with a hunt-and-peck touchscreen keyboard sounds unpleasant, to say the least.

Tablets Aren’t Capable of Burning Discs

You know how convenient it is to burn a CD of your roommate’s music from their laptop and then rip that CD into your iTunes? If you make the switch to a tablet, then you will no longer be able to burn discs. The same thing goes for that big photography or web design project you have due on Monday – no way will you be able to burn off a disc full of high-res images to turn in to your professor.

For music, at least, you could try to use an external USB burner; provided you find one that works with your tablet’s operating system. At this moment, it is extremely difficult to find an external burner that works with a tablet operating system.

Tablets are great for accessing the Internet, streaming movies and reading ebooks. But if you need it to fill more robust functions for your classes and schoolwork, then switching over to a tablet may not be a great idea. For all of the convenience that a tablet can offer, it also has limitations that will affect its functionality when compared to a laptop.

emily-greenEmily Green is a freelance writer with more than six years’ experience in blogging, copywriting, content, SEO, and dissertation, technical and thesis writing.

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