What Is a True Tablet and Why Should Students Care? Readers Respond

by Reads (10,348)

Most students have settled into class routines by now, although the controversy and discussion over what computer is best for academic excellence continues.

A recent article exploring student options in regards to laptops and tablets, particularly in the learning environment sparked debate in the forums concerning what the term “tablet” truly embodies and why students need to understand the differences between a tablet, tablet PC, and notebook before they gear up for school

As a number of TabletPCReview readers suggested, the word “tablet” is misemployed when used to refer to the iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 or any other device with an ARM processor (the type typically found in smartphones and tablets) and mobile operating system. One common knock against these devices is that they are used for consuming entertainment, and not built for serious production.

Apple iPad

As forum member dceggert noted, “When you say ‘students reject tablets’ you mean media devices. My son uses and adores my 2730P TabletPC.”

Semantics aside, on at least one point, the students TabletPCReview spoke with agree, with the vast majority claiming they were not looking at an iPad as a back-to-school purchase. They instead preferred a laptop, which is more practical for their needs.

Still, many TabletPCReview readers took issue with the fact that the article and students failed to mention convertible tablet PCs, or Windows 7 tablets such as the HP Slate 500, as an option. As forum member Steve B wrote, “A convertible would do everything they need. Fun and functional.”

Devices like the HP EliteBook 2760P, the Fujitsu LifeBook T580 and the Lenovo ThinkPad X220 Tablet are three current convertible options available to students, though are mostly targeted at enterprise customers. These devices, which feature swivel displays and can function as both a notebook and a tablet, typically cost more than a laptop with comparative specs (dual digitizer and pen not included). However, students in particular fields often find them extremely useful.

Lenovo X220Tablet PC fans will note that pen input is preferable to a QWERTY keyboard for quickly jotting down notes, and certainly better for complex math equations, as students with a match or engineering focus may already know. As forum member Liberty pointed out, “Some cutting edge universities want their students to have convertible tablet pcs. At Virginia Tech, they encourage engineering students to get the tablet pc.”

In addition, TabletPCReview super moderator Agent 9 wrote that older tablet PCs can be acquired for the cost of a netbook. Whenever I explain to people (usually fellow college students) my 2730p is one of many like it that you can get for around $300 or less, they are completely flabbergasted”

Still, with notebooks having more inputs (including USB 3.0 and coming soon, Thunderbolt) and becoming thinner, lighter, and more powerful, it may be a hard for students to decide between a Windows 7 slate (iPad form factor, Windows operating system), convertible tablet PC, and a notebook.

“It’s kind of a tough choice for many, I would think. I personally want to get a tablet, like the Samsung Series 7 tablet for when I go back to school, but then specs of devices like the 14in Samsung Series 7 have me thinking about staying with notebooks,” stated bloodycape in the discussion. 

So what do you think? Express your opinions and join the debate between tablets, tablet PCs and notebooks in the forum.

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