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Laptop v. Tablet: Which is Better for Lawyers?

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By Robyn Hagan Cain on January 25, 2013 6:02 AM

Last week, my beloved, five-year-old MacBook Pro was on its way to that big tech heap in the sky, and I was facing an impossible choice: MacBook Air or iPad? (I love Apple. Sorry, I'm not sorry.)

My oversized Pro is great, but it's practically a desktop compared the sleek little laptops on the market now. It has a 17 inch screen and weighs almost 7 pounds, so it's never been that portable. My next computer, by contrast, needs to be tiny.

But does it need to be a laptop?

Lawyers are increasingly making the switch from laptops to tablets. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has even started optimizing its opinions for tablet-viewing. (Never mind the fact that the court could have made everyone happy by using responsive web design. Because that would have made life too easy.) The point is that it's easier than ever to do your work on a tablet.

If the majority of your take-home work is doc review, then a tablet might make sense. The distinction, according to CNET is whether you use the device for production or for consumption. Reading documents, watching video, Internet searches and email are all perfectly easily on a tablet. Producing long documents can be trickier, and you may need additional accessories like an external keyboard to simplify the process.

If most of your work is production based -- and you only want one device -- you're better off sticking with a laptop. If you really want a tablet, but need the functionality of Windows, consider a Microsoft Surface. Surface has fewer apps, but Surface with Windows RT comes with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, making it easier to do work on the go. And the touch-cover keyboard is really cool.

After a trip to the Genius Bar, my old Mac has a new lease on life, so I have more time to mull my next gadget purchase. What do you think I should get? A MacBook Air? An ultrabook? A tablet? Share your thoughts on Facebook or Google+, or tweet your suggestion to @FindLawLP.

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