The big question this holiday season: laptop vs. tablet.

My email runneth over. Looks like the big question this holiday season is laptop vs. tablet.

It’s unfortunate many of you will buy a tablet now. Their downward price spiral will accelerate after the season.

We’re looking for a tablet entry level of $200 on most makes soon. The Amazon Fire is leading the pack at $199. The Fire is outselling all. Target has sold more Fires than any other tablet.

Older tablets are getting steep cuts, such as the $300 Pan Digital now going for $68 (refurbished) online and the Android 7-inch tablet at $95. Apple iPad 2 probably will stick at $500, knowing Apple’s aversion to copying price trends.

How will you use it?

The tablet-laptop question is much deeper than price. Generally, if you do a lot of typing work, the laptop is your go. Tablets sill are not quality typewriters. Ditto if you use large databases in your work or administer a lot of files.

This centers on the keyboard. Laptops can be far from comfortable, but the keyboards on tablets can be head-splitting, and there are no mice. The tab is so different, I had to relearn touch typing. The tab is for play; the laptop for work.

Tablets excel at graphics and multi-media display. Their saturated color can send laptops to shame. It really is quite amazing, even thought the laptop screens are bigger.

Tablets and kids

If you have children, the tablet soon will become their best friend. That’s due to its much lower weight and ease of use. You can carry one in a backpack. Compared to a laptop at 4 pounds, tablets are feathers.

On the durability end, laptops are winning. Tablets with their touch screens seem delicate. You’ll learn to hold it properly. Drop it on the floor, and that might be the end.

Laptops being more substantial are harder to mishandle. Most folks use them on a table surface, not a lap, and that’s the safest place.

Tablets always are on the go, and that means handheld. A friend of mine dropped hers 3 feet, and the screen cracked.

Tablets travel

Few users keep their tablets on a desk. They take them everywhere. It’s all about mobility here. Tablets are ready to gobble up waste time such as waiting in lines or traffic jams. Laptops are too bulky for that.

Tablet screens enable easy book and website reading. Try to test a screen before buying. The test is a simple page of text black on white. It should be easily read with no blurry or “zipper” edges, no color shadowing around the type and an overall appearance comparable with a quality magazine. If that passes, the color will be OK.

A sexy laptop once was the epitome of coolness. In six months, tablets have grabbed that moniker, sending laptops on the road to extinction. Where the buzz stops, nobody knows, but the smart bets right now are on the tablets.

Contact Jim Hillibish at