If you’re looking to get online there are basically two options: a personal computer or a tablet. But which one should you choose?

Personal computers

A personal computer (or laptop) is the more traditional choice. However, if you’re not familiar with a computer it may take you some time to master it. Unlike other home appliances, even basic things like starting and turning off PCs can be challenging with login questions and passwords. Also, some of the keyboard combinations are counter intuitive, especially if you use two fingers to type. Double clicking on a mouse can also prove problematic for some people as it requires specific fine motor skills.

The main benefit of choosing a computer is that there is lots of instructional material and support out there. Most local councils offer free computer training. There are also national initiatives run by charities to help get you started.


Whilst a relatively new invention, tablets such as the IPad are increasingly popular. The touch-screen interfaces are often easier to learn to use and you can browse the news, read emails or video chat within a couple of touches.

The touchscreen is also the main downside as the icons can be too small or too close to each. However, if this causes a problem you can buy a sponge tip stylus pen which will help. If you find typing on the on-screen keyboard difficult, you could consider using speech recognition which comes as standard on more recent tablets.


Price-wise, both computers and tablets range from anywhere between £150 up to over £1000. Many of the more expensive models have features that may not be relevant to you so it’s a good idea to start off with a more affordable model and upgrade over time.

While cheaper can often be just as good

It’s best to start off by testing

When deciding which one is better, another good idea is to test both ahead of time. Ask a family member or carer to bring along their own devices for you to try.

A computer or a tablet?