What kind of computer should I buy? Laptop vs. Netbook vs. Desktop vs. Tablet

5 December 2011

There are many different computers out there nowadays. From the recently ignited tablet market to the mature netbook, notebook and desktop PC market. But which one should you buy? The tablet computer looks pretty exciting, but when it comes to it, it really isn’t the same as using an actual computer and is more suited for media-consumption uses, such as web browsing, e-mail, YouTube, music, buying and watching movies, chatting, etc.

So what should your next big purchase be?

The best way to make a decision in my opinion is to understand what device is suited for what, and exactly what it does and is capable of doing. I’ll start with tablets. With Apple igniting the new crowd and paradigm of how tablet computers should currently be (i.e. mobile devices), tablet computers have become pretty popular. There’s a whole host of tablet computers, from Apple, Google with their hardware partners as well with smaller players like RIM with their BlackBerry PlayBook, etc., albeit with Apple still selling the most tablet computers out of every major company as of now.

The iPad, as well as Android tablets, are really mobile-media consumption devices and are definitely not for doing any serious productivity work or doing anything with the expectations we have of using a real computer, such as a laptop or desktop computer. While a laptop have replaced many people’s use of desktop computers because it has the performance, reliability and use of a desktop computer, tablet computers aren’t there yet. Tablet computers are just not the same as using a real computer and haven’t got the software capabilities yet to easily replace use of a laptop or desktop computers. In a way, they are large smartphones with better software capabilities. That said though, the iPad and Android tablets are great to take out and about when you need some sort of capable device with you while you are away without having to luggage around a heavy laptop. And most major tablets out there have pretty good battery life. The iPad and many popular Android tablets do have around 7-10 hours battery life, so they are great for on the go situations.

So, what about netbooks? 

Well, as most of us know, the netbook market was ignited by Asus with their Asus Eee PC netbook that originally came with a Linux-based operating system but later on mostly Windows. While netbooks can’t replace notebook computers because of their screen size and processor power, they are great devices for basic computing tasks such as basic Office use (in the sense of using Microsoft Office) and web browsing and text and video chatting. If you don’t mind smaller screens (for example, you don’t have any vision problems that may make it more difficult to see on a smaller screen computer), and your computer uses are basic, I would highly recommend you consider buying a netbook. What’s the point in spending a lot of money on a full-blown notebook or desktop PC when your uses are minimal? Depending on where you look, some high quality netbooks can be found at around £249 or less (in fact I have seen some low-end notebooks at the £249 discounted range), so again, buy a netbook if it suits your needs as you will definitely save some money. One thing I would recommend you do, if you are not a savvy person, I would recommend you buy your netbook online to avoid sales people trying to sell you something of higher cost to you which you may not need. Just ensure you buy a netbook with a good quality keyboard and touchpad. These are vital areas – especially the keyboard – considering it is a netbook with a small form factor and screen. 


Notebooks are something to look out for, definitely. If you currently have a desktop computer, I can bet you will find a notebook of good performance that can replace most people’s use of a desktop computer (unless we’re talking hardcore gaming here – that’s when a gaming notebook would need to be considered). Laptops are quite cheap too, some as low as £249 but albeit may not be as good quality as some more higher-end machines. That said, for general-purpose use and gaming, you will definitely be able to find a notebook at the £400 to £500 price range – maybe less depending on where you look. Check out the latest laptop reviews and pick up your favourite.

So if you are looking for a general-purpose computer for general use, non-intensive gaming, Office tasks, multitasking (lots of programs open and used at once), I would definitely recommend getting a notebook. A notebook is also beneficial if you don’t want to have a large tower underneath a desk, as well as the fact notebooks are portable.


Desktop computers

While notebooks are pretty popular, desktop computers are still quite popular – even for those consumers that may not have the most demanding computer usage requirements. If you are into gaming and want the best frame rates, best chance of lasting a long time from continued use with the best performance which generally cannot be found on notebooks, a desktop computer may be the way to go. But again, even for general-purpose use, there are definitely low-end desktop computers out there that are perfect for general-purpose use. So if you already have a keyboard, monitor and mouse it may be the cheaper option than even a netbook to consider getting a desktop computer tower, that works with your existing monitor, keyboard and mouse.


So, again, there are many different kinds of computers to choose from – from the newly-ignited tablet market, to netbooks and laptop computers. You won’t go wrong with any sort of computer you get so long as it fulfills you needs. I am sure for some basic computer users even a tablet computer will suffice and then some. Also taking into consideration many Android tablets and Apple’s iPad can be used with an external keyboard for faster typing for making basic Office documents or quicker typing while surfing the web or chatting. Whatever you choose, just makes sure it also has a good keyboard and touchpad. These are areas that manufacturers sometimes compromise with laptops, and quite often with netbooks too.

Posted in: Netbooks, Tablets
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