A comparison between desktops, notebooks, and convertibles


Written By Benjamin Cheong & Amanda Kimberly Tan Hui Ting 

First published on 8 February 2018


Work today has become increasingly convenient with the use of mobile devices such as notebooks, laptops, tablets and convertibles. As law firms consider whether to jump on the bandwagon of working on the go, it would be useful for them to weigh the benefits of notebooks against that of desktops. Tablets and convertibles could be other devices that law firms may want to explore in coming up with their mobile working strategy for the present digital age.


Notebooks are a viable option for law firms to consider as they can bring great convenience to lawyers. Being portable, notebooks save lawyers valuable time as they can work while on the move. Working on the move means being able to respond to clients anytime, anywhere, thus allowing lawyers to be more accessible to their clients. Moreover, notebooks facilitate a seamless transition between office and home, allowing lawyers to go home and continue their work on their notebooks right where they left off in the office.

Separately, this portability makes notebooks very useful for client meetings, as lawyers can use notebooks to take contemporaneous notes of these meetings and immediately access softcopies of documents or even websites during these meetings to show clients whenever necessary.


Desktops, however, do have certain advantages over notebooks for law firms. Compared to notebooks, desktops have higher computing power and capacity, allowing easy handling of large volumes of documents, such as for due diligence exercises. Desktops are also built to be able to accommodate more Random Access Memory (“RAM”) than most notebooks. More RAM allows lawyers to access more applications on the desktop at one go and thus work more efficiently.

Another advantage that desktops have over notebooks is in terms of pricing. Desktops are often significantly cheaper than notebooks of similar specifications.

Desktops may also be more suitable for law firms for their ease of upgrading, customising, repairing and maintaining. Desktops may be upgraded and customised by simply replacing its individual components for one of the user’s choice. This would allow law firms to add or remove specific components according to their lawyers’ needs. Such ease in changing of components enables easy and convenient repair and maintenance of desktops as the faulty components may simply be replaced when necessary.

In contrast, due to the complex and integrated design of notebooks, some of its components cannot be easily accessed, making these components difficult to replace. Moreover, most notebooks, unlike desktops, often consist of components which are specific to its model. This makes customisation tricky and maintenance costly as the specific components for replacement have to be specially sourced. In addition, due to their complicated design, repairing notebooks require some expertise and requires professional to be hired for the repair. All the above factors will result in added costs for the law firm.


If law firms decide to introduce notebooks into their offices, there are certain baseline specifications that they should look out for.

Firstly, law firms should choose notebooks with a screen size of 14 inches as this screen size allows for documents to be viewed easily when opened side-by-side without compromising on the portability of the device.

Secondly, law firms should choose notebooks with a Core i5 CPU, 8 GB of RAM and an SSD as these specifications would ensure that the notebook has high responsiveness and sufficient processing capabilities for the high computing performance necessary for lawyers to carry out their work effectively.


Other than notebooks, law firms may wish to consider tablets and convertibles as these mobile devices also offer the same portability and convenience as notebooks.

While tablets are mainly devices with a touch-screen interface, convertibles can function both as a tablet and when attached with a slim keyboard, function as a notebook.

The touch-screen interface is one of the major benefits of these devices. Such an interface allows lawyers to efficiently peruse their work by scrolling through their documents even while they are on the move. A convertible adds to the touch screen function of a tablet by allowing lawyers to move from scrolling through documents to typing notes with the use of the attached keyboard.

The touch-screen interface also makes these devices ideal for presentations as it allows lawyers to move through presentation slides with a flick of their finger or scroll through their presentation notes as they present. The screen on these tablets and convertibles can be rotated as well, allowing lawyers to quickly show their clients what is on their devices’ screen even from across the meeting table.

The compatibility of these devices with styluses is another advantage of these devices. Styluses can be used to write on the device’s touch-screen surface. This allows the lawyer to annotate on documents or quickly sketch diagrams to aid in the visualisation and explanation of certain issues to clients eg, in construction matters.

Being equipped with network capabilities for network connectivity is yet another benefit of these devices. Network connectivity facilitates lawyers in storing their documents in the cloud, allowing the lawyers to access the most updated copy of their work anytime, anywhere. Such network connectivity also makes it easy for lawyers to carry out research online immediately if an idea strikes them while on the go. Network connectivity is usually offered as part of the package deal when these devices are purchased from a local network service provider.


In conclusion, mobile devices can bring great convenience to lawyers, allowing lawyers to become more accessible to clients and raise their efficiency leading to costs savings that they can pass onto their clients. Thus, law firms should definitely look to integrating these mobile devices into their office infrastructure. In doing so, law firms should ideally choose devices with the same operating systems, eg, iOS or Android to avoid any potential compatibility issues between the different operating systems across the devices.

Profile of Author(s):