What is a Tablet? / What is a Smartphone? / Laptop or Desktop?

Ever wondered the answers? Our resident tech expert Miles gives you an introduction to the digital world and what it all means…

Tablets to tethering , Wi-Fi to wearables, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the abundance of techy terms in use today. You may already be familiar with the benefits technology has to offer, but knowing where to start is often difficult. Whether looking to keep in touch with loved ones, type up your memoirs or research your next adventure, there’s a device suited to your needs and lifestyle. As an expert in helping people with technology, I’ll attempt to guide you through the digital world… 

Desktop vs Laptop  

What you’d traditionally associate with a computer, desktops are made up of separate parts. A tower (which houses the computer’s ‘brain’), a monitor (viewing screen), a keyboard and mouse. Having an external keyboard makes them more ergonomic for typing than laptops, whilst being able to interchange accessories (such as a more comfortable mouse or bigger screen), means they’re easier to be customised for a specific need e.g. sensory impairment. However, as desktops are fixed to one location, this makes them less convenient for quick tasks and so are better suited to jobs that will take longer to complete, (like typing up those memoirs).  

Sometimes called ‘Notepads’, laptops are computers that can be folded up and taken with you, made up from a screen on one half, and a mouse and keyboard on the other. Their portability allows you to carry out tasks wherever you please, making them more convenient than desktops for typing a quick email or booking a hotel room. Although portable, they’re often still too cumbersome for your handbag, so may be more than you require if rarely typing for long periods. 

Tablet vs Smartphone  

One of the differences between computers and portable ‘smart’ devices (like smartphones and tablets) is the ability to install ‘apps’. Short for applications, they’re downloadable computer programs ranging from travel and puzzles to news and music, providing information, communication and entertainment at your fingertips. Because smart gadgets rely on a touch-screen for interaction instead of a mouse and keyboard, millions of apps are available to simplify and enrich daily tasks.  

Tablet computers (often referred to as iPads from market leader Apple), have become popular in the digital world due to their thin and lightweight design. They’re perfect for curling up on the sofa or long travels, offering all the features of a computer with added convenience. Ideal for comfortable leisure use; looking up info online, ordering gifts for the family or unwinding with your favourite crossword is a breeze.   

The fact tablets have a camera on both the front and rear means that thanks to video calling, the faces of your loved ones are just a few taps away (which I’ll cover in more detail next week). The main downside of tablets is typing through a touch-screen, so writing long emails will take that much longer, (although you can easily pick up tablet accessories like a QWERTY keyboard).  

The days of mobile phones resembling a building brick are long gone, with smartphones offering transportable access to the digital world. Due to their screen usually not exceeding around 5″ (12cm) in diagonal width, they’re better suited to communication and navigation rather than admin or typing tasks. They’ve got near enough the same choice of apps as a tablet, although smartphone-only apps like ‘Whatsapp’ have brought my family closer together, with three generations sharing pictures, videos and messages from anywhere on earth.  

You may be asking ‘why would someone have a smartphone and a tablet’ as many people do. The answer is simply portability and the ability to call people. Furthermore, with excellent cameras, having a smartphone in your bag means you’ll never miss snapping that beautiful sunset or family moment.

Which one is best for me?  

With the lines between these devices blurring by the day, you can carry out most digital tasks with any of the above. The best for you depends on your lifestyle, budget and requirement for portability. With thousands to choose from, luckily there’s an increasing amount of devices designed specifically to be easy and intuitive. Technophobes fear not, access to the digital world may be simpler than you think…  

Easy to use Technology

Manufacturers have woken up to the demand for devices that don’t drive you crazy trying to work out how to use them. We specialise in easy to use technology products that are simple and intuitive, allowing you to enjoy gadgets without the fuss.

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