For those looking for portable computing device that is larger than a smartphone and more portable than a laptop, tablets have become an increasingly appealing and popular option. However, while tablets do offer many of the same features you would find in a laptop, there are several important considerations to keep in mind before shelling out the money for one.

Form Factor

An immediate advantage that many tablets have lies in their portability. Most tablets have a screen size between 7 and 10 inches, which makes them much more portable than many laptops. Tablets typically weigh less than laptops as well, and the fact that they don’t have a physical keyboard (unless one is purchased separately) means that they can be used in many situations where a traditional laptop would be less convenient. However, the smaller screen size of a tablet does mean that it might not be well suited for tasks requiring large amounts of screen space.

Software/Hardware

Tablets typically run simpler, more streamlined operating systems than those found on a traditional laptop. This means that tasks such as checking email, browsing the Web and launching apps are more immediately accessible on a tablet than on a laptop. However, while there are many apps and functionalities that are possible with tablets, they are limited by their hardware from doing some of the things a laptop can do. For instance, most tablets aren’t able to run large applications for tasks like video editing, graphic editing, music composition and the like; any available options are usually much simpler versions of the apps you would find on a traditional laptop. Additionally, tablets don’t have as much storage space as laptops. If you have a lot of songs, photos, documents, or applications, you may run out of storage space quickly on a tablet.

Keyboard

Tablets employ virtual keyboards, which means that a keyboard will appear on the screen every time you tap on an area where you can type. If you plan to do a lot of typing on a tablet, you may get frustrated by the smaller keyboard size and lack of physical keys. There are many brands of wireless physical keyboards that can be paired with a tablet, but this usually makes the tablet heavier and less portable.

Suitability

Tablets, for the most part, are devices best suited for media consumption rather than creation. If you’re looking for a device with which to browse the Web, read e-books, stream videos, check email or play games, a tablet may be the best option. This, coupled with a typically cheaper price and better battery life than laptops, makes them well suited for light users looking for something especially portable.