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What’s The Difference Between Laptops, Tablets & iPads?

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014 by | Filed Under: Android, Hardware & Peripherals, iOS, Windows 8

William from Las Vegas writes:

What is the difference between
1. Ipad
2. laptop
3. tablet
4. Ipad air

Let’s start off with the differences between a laptop and a tablet. A laptop or notebook computer is a portable fully functional PC or Mac that comes with an attached keyboard and runs full versions of the Windows or OS operating system. These devices can be used on or offline. They may or may not offer a touchscreen.


A netbook is a smaller Windows device, that also comes with an attached keyboard that is designed for accessing the Internet.  A Chromebook is a device designed for accessing the Internet using the Google Chrome operating system. It functions using Apps from Google and needs to be online for optimum use. A Chromebook also has a built-in keyboard.


A tablet is a device that functions using a touch screen. You may have the option to attach a keyboard, but a keyboard generally won’t come with the tablet. The most popular operating systems for tablets are Android and iOS. A Nexus, Kindle Fire and Nook Color are all different kinds of Android tablets.

When you use an Android tablet, you find apps (applications or programs) for your tablet in the Google Play Store. Kindles and Nooks run a specialized version of Android and offer Apps, books, music and video in specialized stores from Amazon and Barnes & Noble respectively.  A tablet is designed to work with an Internet connection. In many ways, it’s a WiFi appliance. If you don’t have access to a steady Internet connection either with WiFi or a 3G or 4G data plan, a tablet is probably not the best choice for you.

An iPad is a table that runs Apples iOS operating system. You’ll find apps, books and music for your iPad in the iTunes store. An iPad Air is the latest, lightest and fastest version of the iPad. As with an Android tablet, you can also add a keyboard. iPads are on the expensive end of tablets.

While you can buy a lower end-Android for less than $100 and very nice tablets available in the $200 range,  the smallest version of an iPad, the iPad mini, will cost you almost $300.  An iPad air could run you more than $900 if you select the 128 GB model with 4G service option.

 Windows also offers Windows RT tablets and tablets that run the full version of Windows 8. If you need to be able to run Windows programs, these tablets are a good compromise between a tablet and a laptop. You cannot run Windows programs on either Android, iOS or Chromebooks. You may be able to find an app that performs similar functions, but you can’t run Windows programs. You can find a 7″ tablet that supports the full version of Windows 8.1 starting around $300.  As with the other tablets, you can purchase an option physical keyboard if you feel you need it for typing.  A higher-end Windows 8.1 tablet could run you close to $1000.  Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets are two different things. RT uses apps from the Windows App Store, but it does not run the full version of Windows programs.

If you want the full version of Office, Photoshop or any other Windows program, you’ll need to make sure you have a tablet that operates on Windows 8.1.

Hope this clears up the differences.

~ Cynthia


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25 Responses to “What’s The Difference Between Laptops, Tablets & iPads?”

  1. rich peters says:

    Thanks for the condensed, clear script. It was a big help

  2. Jeniffer Robert says:

    So laptops n ipads r the same n which one s more important ipads, tables or laptop.

  3. […] Jeniffer writes in regards to our article What’s The Difference Between Laptops, Tablets & iPads:  […]

  4. Seun rasheed says:

    I love this it ok

  5. Sandi says:

    O.K. I have a Windows RT tablet, which was purchased for educational (student) use. As I understand it, because it runs on a different operating system, and because it does not run on Chrome, I cannot download apps for a PC like Adobe Reader or Google add ons like SpeakIt? I am trying to find a reading text to speech app that will work on our tablet. I have searched the App store on the tablet, but I find the apps very primary. Any suggestions?

  6. roseanne says:

    Thanks. Now understand the difference between Ipad, Laptop, Notebook,tablet.

  7. Danni says:

    LOVE your information! Especially helpful for the older user.
    I’m looking to replace my laptop (17″ win XP) I was hoping to get a tablet. I generally use the laptop when I’m out of town to pay bills and check email, sometimes look-up on the web. Since I can go to individual web sites to do these things, is the win 8 tablet my only choice?

  8. Allie says:

    OMG – this was really helpful!!! [Will have to print it off before I go shopping though] BUT I still dont know what to buy. I am really a dummy. I want something that I can browse the internet, maybe do emails (I use my HP home PC mostly); listen to music. Not really interested in camera stuff. Want to be able to use a calendar (for work appointments, social, etc) rather than the old spiral bound stuff; maybe reading, although I have Kindle, typing reports; and I want to input all my recipes and stand the thing up in the kitchen and view. Which is probably the most important reason I want a portable device. Thanks

    • cynthia says:


      Our of curiosity, do you have a a Kindle eReader or a Kindle Fire tablet. Because a Kindle Fire tablet can do all of things you want. I might also suggest it as an option since you already own a Kindle and probably have multiple purchases from their eco-system. A Kindle Fire HDX is one of the nicest tablets out there. If you aren’t super-comfortable with an onscreen keyboard, I’d add a keyboard case. Although a Windows tablet might work well for you, too.

  9. […] response to our article, “What’s The Difference Between, Laptops, Tablets, & iPads?” Linda wrote:” OMG – this was really helpful!!! [Will have to print it off before I go […]

  10. Gertie Sandi says:

    Good post, thanks for taking the time out :)

  11. Muralidharan says:

    Very good information

  12. Tina says:

    Wow! ! ! Best information . What do you think b ouh that I have ever heard, seen or even been told and I am surrounded by computer guru’s! ! !I have gigiven everyone the info of what I want a device to do yet, nobody could tell me the differences or what device I wanted based on the info that I had give them. Looks like it will be a notebook since I want something that I can use like a laptop without the weight. Also want to be able to play simple games like on my cellphone. Don’t want to use it as a cellphone though but some of the same also along with music. My illness makes my laptop too heavy but that or my cellphone is what I use to do banking, ordering items, etc.
    Am I on the right track??? Based off of what I have told you, do you think that is the way to go since I definitely can’t afford both! Besides my Drs, my youngest son has rare condition that I use letters for. Also, my oldest 3 sons were in the military with one still I as a Green Beret in Special Forces so that is about the only war that I have in keeping in touch with him. Your advice will be taken to heart 1,000,000,000 %

  13. […] response to our article, “What’s The Difference Between Tablets, Laptops and iPads,” Tina writes:  Wow! ! ! Best information . What do you think b ouh that I have ever heard, […]

  14. odogwu says:

    pls i will like to know if i can do microsoft word, excess and power point in tablet device like i do in my laptop

    • cynthia says:

      Yes. Apps for each of those products can be downloaded for free onto your tablet. Or you can use them as part of an Office 365 subscription for even more features.

  15. RickKritzer says:

    I was hoping for information on what a tablet can do that a laptop can’t, and what a laptop can do that tablets can’t. Wanted to know capabilities, not the types of operating systems

    • Genie says:

      Really, the only difference is that tablets obviously don’t have dvd/cd players, have smaller storage capacity & don’t run the same exact programs. You probably will be able to find an app the does the same thing as most widely-used programs (in other words not specialized programs, like medical records-keeping software or loan processing software, specialized for certain types of businesses, but general programs like calendars, word processors, etc.) but it’s likely it won’t be the same exact program.

  16. Shane says:

    I bought windows surface pro 3 and it won’t do much. I can’t run as many of my old favourite programs and it has limited uses on programs such as fit bit program and I have to use my old computer. Is this because windows 10 will not run add on. It keeps directing me to programs I do not want such as groove music. If I purchase music it wants to install on groove. If I want to purchase anything it goes to the Microsoft store. Its a bad purchase and I wish I just bought a cheap tablet like my old Samsung

    • cynthia says:

      Shane: A Surface Pro 3 is a full version of Windows. Any program that ran on your previous PC, should run on it. Are you talking about Microsoft Edge? It does not allow Add-ons yet, but you are free to use other browsers that do such as Chrome and Firefox. You can choose to put your music on Groove, but you can also you the Windows Media Player or iTunes.

  17. Carina says:

    That is such good information. Thanks very much Cynthia!
    One question, if I may. I am looking to replace my laptop and I am unsure if I can download the pictures in my camera to a tablet and if I can use a CD to burn them on to, or extract them on to a USB stick or external hard drive. Is this possible in a tablet or will I need a laptop? Many thanks.

  18. […] response to our article, What’s The Difference Between Laptops, Tablets and iPads?  Rick wrote:  “I was hoping for information on what a tablet can do that a laptop can’t, and […]

  19. Melissa says:

    Great info, but I need to ask a specific question.On my laptop I can download svg files to use to cut items with a cutting machine(Cricut). While using my tablet, I can download the same files but when I click to open them( to use them), it gives message that it cannot open the file. Is this specifically because the function is not available on the tablet? Thanks in advance for any assistance.

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