Windows laptop or tablet? For most the answer is clear

Summary:Windows 8 is designed to work well for both tablets and laptops. This extends to the hybrid, those devices that attempt to be both. Based on extended use of both, it's clear most should go old school.

I'm a tablet guy, there's no denying that. I use them for hours each day, including strapping a keyboard on them and using them for work. That's why the Windows 8 hybrid concept is so compelling to me, as I can use them as either tablet or laptop. But the more I use Windows 8, the more I realize the hybrid/tablet is overkill.

04 Venue 11 Pro front laptop mode
Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet

This realization surprises me, as tablets are a form I find useful. I like using them in my hand, doing both work and "tablet" functions. But as my time with Windows 8 grows by leaps and bounds, I find I use it in laptop mode far more than as a tablet.

See also:  Dell Venue 11 Pro with Travel Dock: Outstanding laptop The dirty little secret of Windows 8: It runs on lesser hardware really well  |  ThinkPad 10 (review): Great Windows tablet, good laptop

I'm not the only one, I regularly hear from hybrid owners that they spend 90+ percent of their time using the system as a laptop. I also hear a surprising reason from them, using Windows 8 feels more natural on a laptop than a tablet.

After a lot of consideration, I understand what they mean. I feel the same way. With the Windows 8 desktop just a tap away, I find I spend a lot of time on that side of the OS. That is much easier done with a laptop and trackpad at my disposal, augmented by the touch screen.

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I find I usually use hybrids, I own one and test lots of them, with a keyboard attached. I sit down, open the lid, and start working with the laptop, much as I have always done with Windows in the past. The touch screen is nice but it's not essential for working with Windows 8. I end up using Windows 8 pretty much as I have in the past, with laptop in front of me.

Given this realization, it's become clear to me that for many considering a Windows system for purchase, it's probably better to go old school and just get a laptop. Forget about the lure of the tablet and get the best affordable laptop. They are often cheaper than tablets with keyboard docks, and usually have more ports for peripherals. There are more laptops to choose from at purchase time than tablets/ hybrids.

If you're going to have a keyboard attached to your tablet or hybrid most of the time, many laptops are just as portable. There are some light laptops available so there's plenty of choice. 

This is an epiphany for me personally, as I never thought I'd recommend a laptop over a hybrid. I like my tablets, there's no doubt. But given that I use hybrids as laptops the vast majority of the time, I have come to believe that others are the same way. Windows has always been used on desktops and increasingly in later years on laptops, and it feels natural to do that now.

I'm sure some use Windows tablets heavily, and that's fine. They should keep doing so. But for many, I believe that going with a straight laptop is the best choice. Simplify the tool and just get busy.

Topics: Mobility, Laptops, Tablets, Windows 8

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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