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Replacing Your Old Computer? Should Your Next Computer be a Laptop or Tablet?

Perhaps your old computer is on its last legs, and you've realized that buying a new computer might be a better investment than continuing with upgrades and duct tape. While laptops have in the past been considered as the choice for desktop replacements, it is becoming more worthwhile to consider a tablet for your new go to device.

Tablets, which rose to popularity in large part because of Apple's iPad, have continued to grow as a unique second companion device to a laptop, but many people are skipping the laptop altogether and opting for a tablet alone. With its thin exterior, large touch screen and advanced visual capabilities, tablet computers allow for easy on-the-go internet access. With the growing number of available apps and Apple's iWork now available, and Microsoft's Office for Mac for the iPad are becoming more capable.

Laptops, however, are also getting thinner and sleeker. These new types of laptops, known as ultrabooks (the Apple Macbook Air, Vaio Z Laptops, Samsung 9 Series) can be pounds lighter than your last laptop, and will have more power and storage capabilities than a tablet. These are still ultra portable, but tablets are still on the rise.

And, as Forbes' Mac Slocum notes in an earlier column, those doing more in-depth work on their computers may opt for a more traditional laptop or desktop PC. "More often than not I delay long email responses and other typing-intensive work until I'm stationed in front of a proper computer," writes Slocum. "This is why my tablet experience, in its current form, can never replace my laptop experience." But with the new iPad Pro and its robust computing power the iPad Pro has become a strong compeitior for most people.

For this reason, it's important to decide beforehand what you plan to use your computer for: work or leisure. If you need it for in-depth research, word processing, gaming, video editing or building financial models or spreadsheets, a tablet may not be the best option. Plus, the iPad offers a split keyboard putting half a keyboard under each thumb when held horizontally.

But, if you have a desktop for those purposes, or your lifestyle doesn't require working on a computer, then a tablet could be great option for on-the-go internet access and entertainment. Plus, portable keyboards can be attached to many tablets for longer term work and some tablets, such as the HP Elitebook 2740p Tablet PC has built-in keyboard and the ASUS Transformer Prime has an optional keyboard doc that also includes an additional battery.

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