By Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Will you be packing a laptop or a tablet in that bookbag when you’re heading back to school or going off to college? It can be a tough choice between performance and portability.

If you’re looking for one device to cover all the bases — “Social networking, e-mail, watching videos, and playing games,” and don’t forget writing papers and working on projects – then Senior Editor Dan Ackerman says, all things considered, you’re likely better served at school with a laptop, rather than a tablet like Apple’s iPad (pictured) or Samsung’s Galaxy Tab.

“People want to see if they can use those to replace the laptop because they’re definitely easier to carry around to class.  But it’s not really a standalone computing device on its own yet.”

Tablets are great for note-taking and social media, he says, but more advanced coursework will require more horsepower and features.

There are add-ons, like a keyboard accessory, that make your tablet function more like a traditional laptop, but they add weight and bulk (not to mention price).

So for those term papers on your syllabus — or if you need to run specialty software for, say, a graphic design or video production class — Ackerman says you’ll be better served by a more robust machine.

“You can get a decent 13″ laptop, which is probably the best middle-ground size for carrying around a lot and also using full-time in your dorm room or at home, for $700 — maybe a little bit less. You don’t have to spend all that much.”

Though if your summer job lets you reach a little deeper, or if you can convince your parents that you really, really need it… “I certainly like the idea of having a more upscale laptop you keep at home, and then having an iPad with you to take to class.”

Reported by Ian Bush, KYW Newsradio 1060

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