Comparing Tablets and Laptops – CompTIA A+ 220-802: 3.4

Tablet computing is quickly becoming the norm for mobile computing, but there are some significant differences between old-school laptops and newer tablet devices. In this video, you’ll learn about field serviceable parts, upgrade options, storage alternatives, and interface differences between laptops and tablets.

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Tablet devices have become a significant computing platform. And in this video, we’ll look at differences between our laptop computers and these newer tablet devices.

If you hold a tablet, you’ll notice there are not a lot of screws. In fact, there’s no screws on most tablets. There’s no way to open them up. There’s nothing inside that you’re able to change. This is a lot different than a laptop, where you have some specific areas where you can provide upgrades.

For instance, there may be slots available to add additional memory. You can move and change expansion slots inside of it if you want to add different wireless technologies. The storage, like the hard drive, can be moved in and out so that you can upgrade the size of those, as well.

You simply need a screwdriver. You can open up the slots on the bottom, make those changes. All of those can even be done on-site. So it makes it very easy and very quick to do the upgrades, as well.

Tablets, however, are completely self-contained. There are no user serviceable parts that you can get to that are inside of that tablet device. If you need to open it up, you have to have specialized tools. Sometimes you have to have a heat gun. There’s different techniques you would use. Obviously, that goes well beyond just a screwdriver that you would have needed for a tablet device.

And often, you have to send these devices somewhere else. I had to update the battery that was in one of my tablets. I had to send it back to the manufacturer. They had to update the battery and then send that device back to me. You would not be able to perform any of those functions on-site with your tablet.

There are so many different ways to upgrade a laptop computer. The memory upgrades are usually pretty accessible on most laptops. And storage space, you not only have storage inside of the laptop, but you could even plug in USB-connected devices that give you even more storage.

This external storage can really take the size of your device and add terabytes and terabytes of storage space onto that laptop. On a tablet, your upgradeability is very limited. In fact, you usually don’t even buy a tablet based on the amount of system memory that it has. Usually, a tablet model comes with a certain amount of memory that’s used by the developers who write applications for that platform.

Usually, we’re buying a tablet based on how much storage it has. We may be buying a tablet with 16 gigabytes of storage or 32 gigabytes of storage or 64 gigabytes of storage. And once you buy it, it’s only going to have that amount of storage for the lifetime of that device. We have no way to upgrade that storage option.

Some tablets do have an SD slot on the side so we can add an SD memory card to at least give us a little bit of additional external storage to that tablet device. But it doesn’t have the same functionality we’d have with laptops.

With laptops, we can plug in a USB device and effectively upgrade it to a lot of storage. But you don’t have that USB connectivity on a tablet device. One of the nice features of tablets is there’s no keyboard. It’s all done with touch on the outside of that tablet interface.

These days, we’re starting to see touch not only on tablet devices, but it’s also showing up on a number of laptops, as well. But it’s not a common option. We usually will see a touch being used as a specialized feature of a laptop. But we’re seeing it more and more, especially as Windows 8 is driving the industry to do more with touch on a laptop platform.

This is opposite to what we see on tablets, of course, because on tablets it’s all a touch interface. If you were going to add on a keyboard, it’s something optional that you might add after the fact. Sometimes you’ll even see a stylus interface on a tablet. But obviously, the interface, that is the common one we see the most, is a touch interface on that tablet.

Solid-state storage, or SSD, is a media that does not have any moving parts other than the electrons that are moving inside of the device. This is very different from traditional hard drives which have a lot of mechanical pieces inside of it that can often fail.

On laptops, we commonly see those traditional hard drives. But we’re seeing increasingly a large number of manufacturers who are adding SSD technology into their laptops, as well, or at least giving us the option to replace a moving storage technology with something like a solid-state storage technology.

Hard drives also provide a lot of capacity for the dollar. We can have terabyte hard drives inside of our laptops that might cost the same thing as 128 or 256 gigabytes of storage on an SSD. So there is a cost advantage for going with that slower hard drive. But obviously, an SSD being solid-state is so much faster.

And because it doesn’t have those pieces of hardware inside of it, we can move it around without any worries that we’re going to cause that hard drive to fail. That’s why we see SSD as the default for our tablet devices. Tablets are constantly moving. We’re constantly bumping them into things. We would never want to do that with a hard drive.

But with SSD, it becomes very, very easy to move it wherever we’d like to and not have to worry that the storage is going to be damaged. We also know that we’re going to have a smaller amount of capacity on a tablet. But generally, we’re not doing the same computing functions on a tablet as we would with a laptop.