College Students Should Consider Tablets Instead of Laptops

by Reads (86,556)

Most colleges and universities require computers, and many students assume they need to buy laptops during back to school season. This is a mistake because a tablet is often the superior option.Back To School 2014

Laptops used to be the best choice for people who needed a computer that could be used in a dorm room, the library, the classroom, and the lab. But times have changed – tablets are now more portable and more flexible without sacrificing functionality.

Plenty of Power

When the iPad was first released, some dismissed it as a toy. Even many fans called it a consumption device: something handy for reading websites, watching video, or playing games, but useless for actual work. The justification for these beliefs was shaky at the time, and Apple’s slate has only become more capable in the years since, transforming into a worthy laptop replacement for many students.

The release of Microsoft Office for the iPad completed this shift. Students who need to work in the widely-used file formats like .docx, .xlsx, and .pptx can do so on an Apple iPad Air.

Although the Android version of Office is still in development, quite a few people use the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 and other high-end models to take the place of a laptop.

The collections of useful and inexpensive productivity apps for iOS and Android go well beyond Office – the iPad is very popular in education, and there’s a corresponding array of available software.

The situation is even more clear cut when talking about Windows tablets. Models like the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 are as capable as any laptop running Windows, and come in designs that better fit the college lifestyle.

Every Tablet Is a 2-In-1

Logitech Ultrathin for iPad Air (2014)A traditional laptop is essentially a clamshell that’s half screen and half keyboard. When you want to enter a lot of text, a keyboard is a great thing to have, but it’s in the way for almost everything else you use a computer for.

You can’t rip the keyboard off a laptop when you want to draw or sketch on it, or take handwritten notes. There’s no way to take the keyboard off when you want to lighten the load in your bag, or when you need to lean back and read a few hundred pages of an eBook by tomorrow morning.

These are all reasons why tablets have become so popular. You can add a keyboard to an iPad Air or Surface Pro 3 when it’s time to write a term paper, but leave the accessory in your dorm when you want to handwrite your class notes.

A keyboard can be added to ANY tablet, and many are sold with them. Companies like Logitech and Belkin make add-on ones for Apple models, while Samsung and Microsoft make keyboards for their own devices.

Think Outside the Laptop Bag

Sometimes people make the mistake of buying a cheap laptop on the assumption that all computers are pretty much the same. Nothing could be further from the truth – bargain-basement laptops are often underpowered. Underpowered Windows computers are generally sluggish and can be prone to a range of problems.

Even more important, though, is making a smart decision.  A computer is going to be the single most important item in a student’s life, and it’s going to play a real role in how successful you are at university. Getting the right device that truly meets your needs is much more important than saving a little money.

AnalysisThe most important thing is not to fall into the trap of thinking “I’m going to college, therefore I need a laptop.” There are better alternatives.

And let’s not forget the fringe benefits: No one is impressed when you pull a laptop out of your bag, but a slim and powerful tablet … that will get you some envious glances.

If you’ve been persuaded, don’t miss our list of  Best Tablets for College  Students.


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  1. walter

    One factor not mentioned at all is cost. Buying a tablet and keyboard is often more expensive than buying a laptop. The article doesn’t even touch on Chromebooks.

  2. collegeguy

    I am guessing you are not a student. I got an when my laptop broke at the beginning of the year, i got an Ipad …. worst mistake ever. during the holidays…. sure it was OK for streaming movies… the quality was worse then my laptop from two years ago that cost about the same. by this point i was disappointed in my purchase but not enough to get shitty about it. But by about 1 month into college i has sold my iPad as it was F***ing hopeless for school work luckily i managed to get $400 for it which bought me a Chromebook with a little left over. which is still not as good as my old pc but for half 1/3 of the price it is better for both educational and entertainment purposes…. and my ex used a transformer book, paid like $1000 for it and i never seen her use it as a tablet. If you need a purely entertainment device and you’re strapped for cash get a cheap tablet, otherwise you’re way better off with a Chromebook or PC.