Many mobile professionals are under the impression they need to own every portable computing device and gadget on the market in order to be the best whiz kid on the block. One of the decisions many people struggle with is whether or not a tablet or laptop will meet their mobile needs. When considering the tablet versus laptop purchase, there’s more to think about than simply how often you travel. A number of issues factor into an informed choice, and I address several of the prominent ones below. (See also: Inexpensive Overhead Solutions for Starting Your Small Business)

What’s Your Work?

notebook-vs-laptopIf you’re focused mainly on communication coordination and conceptual consulting, chances are you will be able to function just fine with a typical tablet and keyboard combination on the road. However, if you create massive amounts of content for a living like I do, and need to operate in multiple programs and screens at once, getting your work done from a tablet is virtually impossible. Either there isn’t enough juice to run all the programs you need at once, you have a tablet that’s a one-program-at-a-time product, or you have a combination of the two. That being said, it sure is nice to have something you can fire up quickly on airport Wi-Fi between flights to check email and catch up on social media promotion. This and the ability to carry multiple books on a single, lightweight device are two of the main reasons I dished out for a Kindle Fire. At roughly two hundred bucks, it gives me access to the functionality I would find useful in a tablet without the extra cost for a full tablet that I can’t use to its full potential.

How Do You Travel?

Do you mostly take road trips only to land immediately at a residence suite, rented cottage or short-term studio apartment? Chances are you can get by with a laptop and a mobile phone. Are you frequently stuck in airports with brief layovers between flights where no Wi-Fi is available? A tablet might come in handy in that case, particularly if your content development projects include shorter bits of copy. (See also: Frugal and Productive Ways to Kill Time Before a Flight)

How Many Devices Do You Desire?

Hey, not everyone feels the need to be a minimalist when it comes to tech equipment. Similarly, there are many of you who may not be as restricted as I am with regards to functioning out of a single rolling backpack for nearly every trip that isn’t made in an automobile. If you feel you’re more effective managing a mobile office with both a tablet and a laptop, that’s your decision. However, if you are planning a trip that’s also to serve as a working vacation, you may want to save some room for extra wardrobe changes and avoid a larger machine altogether.

What’s Your Weight Limit?

Slinging a bag or two into the car and not having to deal with them again until you reach your destination is one thing. Sprinting through the airport with 30 pounds over your shoulder and another 40 rolling behind you, only to have to lift them over your head on the fourth flight connection of the day in order to store them is another. Especially for a two-three day trip. That’s when traveling with a tablet device might be your best bet, provided you’re able to postpone fresh content development projects until you return.

Clearly deciding between tablet vs. laptop will take some thought and consideration. The bottom line? The final decision will be closely tied to both your work style and travel schedule.

Myscha Theriault

Myscha Theriault

A lifelong money cruncher who can squeeze a nickel ‘til it cries, Myscha is a syndicated columnist, best-selling author, and founder of Trek Hound and We Be Sharin’.