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Ultrabook v. Desktop + Tablet

amateur

Turbo Monkey
Apr 18, 2002
1,019
0
Orange County
I'm going back to school (which includes a cross country move) and my laptop is on its last legs. While waiting for it to die completely, I'm looking for some input. I will be bike commuting ~100 miles per week between work and school which will undoubtedly hasten my computer's death. I'm looking at tablets (mainly 10") that I could ride with and then sync to my laptop for as long as it lasts before switching to an all in one. The other option is to simply get a new fangled ultrabook that I could take everywhere rather than having a home base. The likelihood of having to write papers is slim, but the potential for internet research is quite great. Oh, Android or Windows are strongly preferred.
 

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
21,879
760
NC
I'm sorely tempted by the Windows Surface Pro tablets. The thought of having a tablet that can actually run all of my Windows apps is a pretty sweet proposition.

Honestly, if you have work to do on the go, I'd lean heavily towards the Ultrabook option. Tablets are great for casual use, but I still don't think they're quite there for real work. If I want to be doing serious internet research, I'm going to be opening a dozen tabs, bouncing between them, scrolling and scanning a lot... and all of that is easier with a mouse, a keyboard, and a faster device.

If your work isn't on the go, and your research is done from home, a desktop will provide much more bang-for-the-buck, as well as hardware longevity. A $600 desktop is a pretty good computer that will last a while. A $600 laptop is a mediocre laptop that will be outdated soon.

A desktop + an inexpensive tablet (e.g. Nexus 7) gives you a highly portable on-the-go device with a lot of battery life, a computer that won't be outdated instantly, and if you drop your backpack or it gets stolen/soaked, you're out a $200 tablet and not a $600-800 ultrabook. Of course, if your research is done on the go, there's still no substitute for a laptop.
 

dante

Unabomber
Feb 13, 2004
8,808
9
looking for classic NE singletrack
I'd definitely lean towards the tablet/desktop as long as the tablet met your needs on the go. It's not going to be good for typing term papers, or doing any type of intensive computing needs, but the lighter weight will DEFINITELY be a plus (as opposed to even an ultrabook + charger if necessary). Desktops are cheap, and it's *easy* to find a screaming deal on one, far easier than to find a great deal on a just-released ultrabook.

I jumped on this deal over the summer, and after a second $20 4gb of RAM the thing flies. $300 total (ok, I also added a $100 video card so the grand total is actually $400, but that's primarily for games anyway).

Computer hardware has outpaced the software needs, at least for ~95% of the American public, and desktop hardware usually runs 1-2 generations (or 1-2 "performance levels") above it's corresponding laptop hardware. The Sandy Bridge i3 in the desktop runs about equal to an Ivy Bridge (one gen newer) i5 laptop processor.

I honestly probably won't get another laptop (unless they drastically change?) and will pick up a tablet when/if my current laptop dies. I have a desktop for doing anything computer intensive, and using a normal monitor/keyboard/mouse is far superior to using a laptop at the kitchen table (or god forbid, the couch).

My only thing to note would be that Windows will be coming out with a full (non-RT) version of W8 on an upcoming Surface tablet. Price, of course, is TBD.
 

dante

Unabomber
Feb 13, 2004
8,808
9
looking for classic NE singletrack
Or keep your eye open for something like this (specific deal is dead but they come up relatively often) and build your own. $70 for a hard drive (normal or SSD, depending on your storage needs), install Linux and you're good to go for less than $200.

Black Friday / Christmas is also coming up, and so I'm guessing that there'll be quite a few generic desktop deals as well...
 

Aimee Davis

Chimp
Dec 4, 2012
2
0
London, UK
If your work is mostly for research and you need to bring gadget for that I would suggest you to have laptop or tablet. It will depend on you what type of laptop you prefer. There are various type of laptop according to your use.