April 20, 2014
Tablet or Laptop. Which is Greenest?
Sleek and shiny the latest tablets and laptops may be, but how do their green credentials compare?
Let’s take a look and see…
Available in various sizes, but always portable, tablets have captured the imagination (and the pockets) of millions of people. And all this in just a few years since the launch of the original iPad. Latest statistics show that more and more people are accessing the web via tablets.
So how green is the average tablet computer? Well, first of all, let’s consider the fact that they are small, slim and light. This means that the total materials and components used are fairly limited. Additionally, a tablet has no moving parts, which cuts down on both materials and energy usage.
Due to the small screen size in most tablets, there is also only a moderate amount of energy used when the device is active. This goes a long way to explain why the smaller batteries in a tablet can last a lot longer than the larger standard laptop batteries.
Tablets are definitely energy-efficient, but they do have some environmental downsides. Damaged tablet screens are a common occurrence and due to the reasonably low-cost to purchase new devices, it is likely that many old and broken tablets are simply thrown in the bin. What started life as a green device, may well end up after only a short period of use in a landfill!
Both in the office and at home, laptops have taken over from desktops as the standard work computer. If you need to use Excel, Word or PowerPoint, you are likely to use a laptop for working in these applications. But are they green?
Like tablets, laptops are portable, but not to the same extent. A new laptop may have a battery that from full charge can power the machine for up to 8 hours or so. Users often discover, however, that the longevity of the battery is prone to quick decline. And more charging = more energy usage.
Laptops are typically much heavier and larger than tablets, and in most cases have bigger screens too. Screens are energy vampires, and the bigger the screen, the bigger the energy drain. Additionally, laptops also have moving parts (hard drives and fans) which add to the energy usage of the device.
It’s not all bad news though for laptops, as in most cases owners of laptops will keep these devices for many years. Laptops on the whole are reliable and sturdy, and if looked after can last for a very long time. Even when close to end of life, many owners choose to recycle or donate their laptops to schools and charities.
On balance, tablets are the green winner.
Fewer materials are used to make these devices, and when in use tablets are much more energy-efficient than laptops. However, tablets definitely need to be seen as less ‘throwaway’ and to have clear reuse and recycling routes when owners are upgrading to newer models. They would also benefit from stronger screens.
The good news is that both laptops and tablets have continued to increase their eco-credentials, and if the promised battery revolution is realised, then the future for personal computing could be a bright shade of green.
Craig J Todd – Freelance writer with a passion for tech, trends and simplicity.
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