What Is the Difference Between a Laptop and a Tablet?

The chief difference between a laptop and a tablet is that a laptop uses a keyboard and touchpad for input while a tablet relies on a touchscreen. Tablets are usually smaller and more portable than laptops, while laptops tend to be more powerful and have more hardware options.

Laptops come in many different shapes and sizes, ranging from powerful gaming laptops with large screens to small, light netbooks without physical hard drives. They are also customizable, allowing users to replace memory, storage, and other components to upgrade the base model. Laptops also generally feature multiple external connectors, allowing USB devices and peripheral cards to be added to further increase functionality.

Tablets are all-in-one devices that are generally not user-upgradeable. Typically, a tablet has one connector used to interface with a PC or charge the device. Tablets often have a more limited software selection than laptops, and must run specialized versions of software packages designed to work on a more limited operating system.

Some hybrid devices exist, pairing the touch screen of a tablet with a detachable keyboard and base station. These devices are usually less powerful than a full-sized laptop, but offer users more versatility than a tablet alone would provide. Hybrids tend to be relatively large devices compared to dedicated tablets.