/ Technology

Can a tablet really fulfill all your computing needs?

People using laptops and tablets

Tablets are good for watching movies, playing games and browsing the web. But what if you want to do more intensive tasks? Should you turn to a laptop or can your tablet compete? Rob and Jess go head-to-head…

Rob Leedham: keeping my iPad pure

I love my iPad. I love watching classic Arrested Development on it with the help of Netflix. I love relaxing in the company of the Comixology app’s vast back catalogue of Batman comics. Most of all, I love how it’s a break from my laptop.

I’m the kind of person who likes to clearly divide my work and leisure time. Owning an iPad allows me to do this because it’s definitively not a laptop. Don’t get me wrong, it’s like a laptop; in the same way a vegetarian sausage is like a succulent pork chipolata made from a pig that’s been allowed to roam free in the sun and gorge on fully organic oats. You could mistake the two from afar but, close up, you’ll taste the difference pretty quickly.

There are plenty of tablet apps designed to recreate the laptop experience of editing documents. You can even buy a decent keyboard for your iPad these days. Despite this, if you own a laptop you don’t have to worry about compatibility issues with your Excel spreadsheet, or the precarious dangers that stem from balancing an iPad keyboard while typing on the sofa.

Best of all, it’s possible to get both a reasonable Windows laptop with a sturdy keyboard and a tablet with a wealth of entertainment options for under £500. This combination is the Starsky & Hutch of the modern tech era, the Chas & Dave of professionally editing your photos and enjoying the latest iPlayer essentials, the Ant & Dec of having your cake and eating it.

Use your tablet as a laptop? Pah. I’ll keep my tablet exclusively for Angry Birds-related larks thank you very much.

Jess Moreton: I’ve pimped my tablet

If you pimp your tablet with a few simple apps and add a keyboard, you’ve got the perfect, portable device for work. Together these functions definitely enable your trendy tablet to behave more like a sensible laptop that you can slip in your bag and keep with you at all times.

I use a basic word processing app on my iPad and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how competent and easy to use it is. It still points out my spelling mistakes and, more importantly, it means I can make notes when at a meeting and save them straight to the cloud. And with the right know how, you can even edit Microsoft Word documents on your iPad for free.

Continuing Rob’s food analogy – pimping your tablet to behave like a laptop is just like having the ‘best of both’ bread. You get the fluffy white farmhouse loaf that you really want, but with all the goodness (or usefulness in the case of the iPad) of the boring wholemeal stuff. Surely getting more out of your tablet is a win-win situation?

However, there’s one small caveat. Using a tablet for work is an occasional solution. If I was a student and relied on my laptop for writing my essays I’d definitely stick to a laptop. But if you’re an office worker who needs a device for using when out of the office – adding these apps and accessories means your tablet packs an even mightier punch.

So, whose side are you on? Do you agree with Rob that tablets should stay away from work-based tasks? Or are you with Jess and think tablets can live up to the likes of a laptop?


I have no idea what a tablet is, but I would never give up my desktop workstation for a laptop. I guess then that I would not like a tablet whatever either.

I guess you don’t make a lot of use of computers when you leave the house.

Quite frankly, no. I get the feeling it would get in the way of the steering wheel.

One of the advantages of a tablet is that it is easy to use in the driving seat – obviously not when driving.

Alwyn Maynard says:
13 May 2013

Samsung are about to launch an Android laptop. I guess there will be no need to pimp anything sooner or later.

A decent keyboard is a must to be able to keep up the productivity and this is lacking in tablets. Until then, they’re likely to be pretty entertainment devices more than anything else.

BridgetACB says:
25 May 2013

I have an IMac for proper desk stuff as it’s good for docs and photos and if you are writing something with figures and spreadsheets the larger clear screen is good. But I use my IPad for all other domestic purposes, including sometimes TV catchup and reading e-books. The small wireless keyboard for the Mac also works with the IPad, so if I’m going away with stuff to write I just take the keyboard and my tablet. The Pages and Numbers Apps are compatible with Office, so I can import, finish or edit docs and send them back via email or Cloud. The tablet is useful when travelling too as tickets and other details can be put on it, it’s smaller and lighter than my laptop was. So more like Jess I think.