iPad App Buyer’s Guide: Back to School 2010

by Reads (7,396)

The Apple iPad was far and away the number one media tablet in TabletPCReview’s Back To School Buyer’s Guide. But even though it’s ideal for consuming media, it’s also a valuable learning tool thanks to the thousands of student reference, organizer and note taking apps available in the iTunes App Store.

Here are TabletPCReview’s top five:

Apple iPad Apps

iStudiez Pro

iStudiez Pro ($2.99)

This handy organizer app manages homework assignments and handles class schedules and study groups through what TabletPCReview’s Jen Edwards described as a “graphically appealing interface.” In addition, it pushes out notifications for upcoming due dates, offers a grade tracking option and allows students to perform full data backups via email. Simply put, it has everything a student needs to keep organized, and that it only costs $2.99 make it a must have for all iPad-toting students.


The Elements iPad App

The Elements: A Visual Exploration ($9.99)

This is a must-have for any chemistry student, and recommended for anyone at all interested in science. “It’s absolutely brilliant: informative and yet fun for all ages,” raved Jen Edwards in her review. The Elements features a searchable index of each element, including videos showing the element in its natural state along with basic information such as boiling points and density. The app then goes a step further to explain how the element is used in regular consumer products.


Shakespeare Pro

Shakespeare Pro ($9.99)

The Bard has been frustrating students for ages through his use of confounding Old English. Shakespeare Pro cuts through the archaic language to help students better understand and fully enjoy some of history’s greatest literary works. The application includes the complete works of Shakespeare, including all the plays and sonnets, along with fun facts, a biography, glossary, and play/poem info. Shakespeare’s plays are required reading in both high school and college, so this complete reference package.


Thoughts HD

iThoughtsHD ($7.99)

iThoughtsHD is not for everyone, but is ideal for visual thinkers. It enables easy assembly of mind maps, a sort of stream-of-conscience outline and note-taking technique that helps many students retain and organize information. This feature-rich app allows students to export mind maps via email, which accurately retains the mind map in outline form, or WiFi in a variety of formats, including PDF, PNG or OPML among others.



PaperDesk ($1.99)

One function users loved about traditional tablets was note taking with a stylus, a feature that the Apple hasn’t exactly embraced with the iPad. The PaperDesk app looks to fix that with different paper types, ink colors, brightness controls, opacity, and adjustable pen sizes. Also, PaperDesk allows users to combine text with sketches and audio recordings, meaning students can record lectures and take notes at the same time. And as a bonus, there is a free lite version available for a PaperDesk trial.


arrow  Kno knows what students want from their tech.

“Pretty much any product out there is for the general consumer, and then it’s rammed down education’s throat. What we are saying is education is too purposeful, it’s too specific, and it needs a product focused on it.”

Those are the words of Kno co-founder and CEO Osman Rashid. His company aims to develop a tablet with a laser focus on the education market, called the Kno; a tablet Rashid claims is for students, developed with plenty of input from students.Kno

As Rashid revealed in conversation with TabletPC Review, when you are developing a product exclusively for students based on their insights, you learn some things about what the younger consumers need and want from their gadgets.

Screen Color and Size Matter

For example, the Kno sports dual LCD screens, but is designed for eTextbooks that are loaded with text. We asked Rashid why the Kno shuns eInk, which many claim is preferable to LCD for reading. Rashid was quick to answer that the students he observed told him that kids today have been reading off of LCD screens for years, whether it be a laptop or desktop monitor. They are used to it. Also, as Rashid explains, eTextbook content necessitates color.

“Textbooks have rich and beautiful content in extreme high color. If you’re a biology student, how are you going to look at a picture of a cell and in only sixteen shades of gray?”

Related to content is screen size. The Kno screens will be a whopping 14.1 inches. Once again, Rashid claims that particular size is what students need and want.

“The readability of the content, it must, at a minimum, look exactly like the way a physical book appears to you. We did not wake up in the morning and say ‘well let’s make a 14.1-inch screen,” he said. Later, he added, “We looked at 10-inch screen, we looked at 12 we looked at 13.3. We looked at all kinds of screens and at the end of the day, the reason we know that eTextbooks did not work on laptops was that you have to scroll left and right up and down every couple of minutes, which gets annoying after 30 minutes.”

The Kno is currently in beta testing with students at major universities, with plans to expand next year. Check back to see if it makes TabletPCReview’s 2011 Back to School Tablet Buyer’s Guide.

Also, be sure to check out TabletPCReview’s back to school tablet and eReader buyer’s guide as well as the TabletPCReview Reader Survey. Simply answer a few questions for a chance to win a WikiReader.

Finally, check out TechnologyGuide’s back to school center for buying advice from all the TechnologyGuide sites.



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