Martin Lapointe

What to Choose: Desktop, Laptop, or Tablet?

When you work in IT, you are often asked the same question: whether from family, friends, or acquaintances, at a party or between two marshmallows when sitting around a fire, “Should I buy a computer or a tablet?” comes up again and again. The question requires more thought than a marriage proposal (at least for some people!).

To make the right decision for you, it is helpful to know the differences between the various options, as well as what the device will be used for. In the age of cellphones and tablets, such devices always seem very appealing, but note that you can’t do everything with them. Below are the pros and cons for each type of device.


Desktops are the perfect tool for gamers and for those who create photo and video content, and need a great deal of disk space.


  • You can connect several hard drives: a high-performance small SSD (solid state drive) for Windows, and two other large hard drives, which clone each other so you don’t lose any data.
  • You can easily connect a printer via a USB port.
  • You can customize your computer with better components, like a better graphics card, so you can play the most recent games on the market.
  • Your desktop can act as a server to store videos/music/photos, which can then be accessed remotely.


  • Higher energy consumption because more components are plugged in.
  • More cumbersome because you need to have space for a tower, a screen, speakers, a keyboard, and a mouse.
  • Often noisier than a laptop.


A laptop is perfect for most people. With the arrival of tablets, laptops have become more affordable. You can purchase one for $500.


  • Laptops require less space because the keyboard, mouse, and screen are integrated, so they can easily be put in a drawer when not being used.
  • Low energy consumption; only one power outlet is required.
  • Unlike tablets, laptops are full computers, so there are no restrictions when it comes to web pages and applications.
  • You can connect a printer via a USB port if needed or through Wi-Fi.


  • Not as powerful as desktops. This is important only if you are a graphic designer and you edit videos or if you play recent games.
  • Only one hard drive, so think about backing up your data on an external USB hard drive.


I will not get into whether an iPad or an Android tablet is better, but I will say that if you already have an iPhone and an iTunes account, go with an iPad, since it will be easier. If not, there are so many possibilities when it comes to Android tablets (Acer, Asus, Samsung, Sony, Chinese brands, etc.). There are Chinese brands that are modestly priced and that perform just as well as the most recent Samsung models.


  • Tablets are hand-held and portable, and don’t require very much space.
  • Long battery life: often more than a day.
  • Thousands of applications and games that are compatible on the various platforms and optimized for your tablet.
  • Google searching at your fingertips.
  • Interesting dimensions: 7 in. for the hand-held, portable model and up to 12 in. for watching movies on Netflix or other applications.


  • Difficult to set up printing.
  • Does not include all of the common Windows applications.
  • Limited storage space. You have to pay for an annual subscription to obtain additional Cloud storage space. Be aware that Google now offers free unlimited disk space to store your photos. Thus, you can now store all your pictures for life, without paying a penny.


A few years ago, Microsoft released version 8.1 of Windows. Since then, they have also released the Windows 10 version. Both of these, being highly performing, will allow you to install all applications from Windows and are an excellebnt compromise between the laptop and tablet. With these versions, they were able to manufacture hybrids, which are laptops that can become tablets as needed.

For example, the Microsoft Surface, with its detachable keyboard, becomes a full tablet. Another good example is the Asus TAICHI. It has dual screens: when it’s closed, it functions as a tablet, and when it’s open, a laptop. When it’s open and working as a laptop, the second screen can be used as a display screen for a client sitting across from you. It is a great device that I have had the opportunity to try.


  • All of the desktop applications you already use are available.
  • In tablet mode, the device becomes portable and hand-held.
  • It has a laptop hard drive, so there is a lot of storage space.


  • You still need to decide how to back up your data—either on the Cloud, a USB hard drive, or a desktop.
  • The tablet mode uses Windows 8.1, which may not be a good fit for everyone.

So there you have it! For people who only want to find Ricardo recipes online, update their Facebook status, and post pictures on Instagram, a tablet is quite sufficient. If, however, you are a fan of video games, that you enjoy editing photos/videos or simply because you require a lot of space locally, a desktop is well suited to the task. If you plan to work on your deck while sipping a glass of wine or at your kitchen table while eating a bowl of cream of broccoli soup, a laptop is the best option for you!

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Martin Lapointe Director of IT Solutions See the profile

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