Laptop vs tablet


Expedition Leader
I just got my first digital camera. A Canon XS that my wife bought for me. I was wondering what people download to. What type of laptop or tablet people use.


High-Tech Redneck
Laptop because you can put a hard drive in there measured in multiple TB's. Most tablets card storage tops out in GB's using cards that are equivalent or smaller than the ones you would put in the camera itself.

My Laptop actually has 2 hard drives, a SSD for the OS and general use files, and a disk drive for mass storage.

For casual trip photography, I wouldn't bother with either, use large capacity cards and if you are worried about running out of room, buy multiples and do your storing tasks at home. Unless you are a professional making backups on the fly and duplicating everything is a bit overkill.


Active member
Congrats on the camera!

Until 6 months ago, I would have been on the same page as AirMapper -- but more recently, I'm in favour of a tablet, specifically the Pro-level tablets like the iPad Pro. I recently gave up my laptop in favour of an iPad Pro and I don't regret it at all -- it's really good for my use case. Everything I used to do on a laptop, I was able to do on the iPad, but for various reasons it was easier, more intuitive, and faster on the iPad than the laptop. It's like upgrading from a sponge and soap to a dishwasher -- the way I wash my dishes is now very different, but they come out clean with less work on my part!

My editing workflow is substantially faster and more intuitive on an iPad, for both still and video images. The iPad also will work with popular overlanding apps -- one device doing nav, photos, journals, emails, etc. instead of having multiple devices is handy for space and simplicity, though of course one still has to plan for redundancies and failures (as you would with any tool). Additionally, Tablets are handy for entertainment given their massive battery life -- on our latest trip, we were able to download a bunch of Netflix shows that we could relax and watch in the tent while we were waiting for some real bad weather to pass. The point is, having one device for all of the things was really nice.

I purchased an iPad Pro with a fair bit of internal storage and pay monthly for the multi-terabyte option from iCloud, so when I'm grid I have all my files. However, there are also plenty of storage options for the iPads in terms of external drives (currently as high as 2 TB), with even more robust external support rumoured for future iterations of iOS, so backups and file storage is just as easy off grid.

All that being said you may already have devices that do all the above, or you may not need the above options in the same way, in which case a cheaper laptop might be easier/better for your use case. Pro-level iPads have a lot going for them though, and are worth a serious look.

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For just offloading pictures to a drive there are lots of options, including portable hard drive cases with built in SD card slots.
Personally I have a Chromebook I take with me on trips that I can plug an SD card reader in one end, and a portable Hard Drive on the other and just copy pictures over. Plus I can do some basic photo editing/uploading on there if I have connection.

But I think you need a real computer somewhere in your workflow. If you don't have a home computer, get a full laptop.
If you're like me with a big home computer for the end of the trip, a smaller device is good during the trip.


I think of a latptop for creating and consuming content, where a tablet is just for the latter. Games and productivity tools on mobile platforms have come a long way, but there's still no comparison to what's available for an actual computer.


High-Tech Redneck
I'm not familiar with the most recent methods of transferring data between camera and tablet, but if it's like the Wifi connection my camera uses to talk to my mobile devices, it is painfully slow.

I like a physical cable or removing the card to move data simply because the transfer speed is so much higher. I've come back from a weekend with several GB of images, video, and sometimes RAW format files to move. That would take hours over wireless, still takes 5-10 minutes over a cable.

They may make cables to connect to a tablet now, I haven't updated my camera gear in several years.

Sent from my SM-G930U using Tapatalk


I just bought a Lenovo Yoga 730 laptop. The screen folds over completely so it can be used as a tablet too. So far I love it, gives a lot of use options from desk to couch to sitting in the truck. Plan is to add a GPS unit and let my wife run Nav on it as well as general household use.

Anyway, point is, there are a number of 2-in-1 laptops that bridge the gap. Some are junk, some are great.


Expedition Leader
...Most tablets card storage tops out in GB's using cards that are equivalent or smaller than the ones you would put in the camera itself. ...
Yep. 64Mb in my CanonEOS will hold 1400 pics. And I carry a couple more in my gear as I don't like having everything on a single card.

I've got ~$300 HP Win10 laptop and a 4Tb USB2 external drive that's about the size of a deck of cards. So I can shuffle off / duplicate a huge amount of photos / video, if necessary.
My usual routine on a tourism trip is dupe the images off the camera between the daytime and dinner / evening activities. While folks are cleaning up / changing to go out. That or first thing in the morning.
In the vehicle, I just swap the cards.