5 Tablets for Back to School

5 Tablets for Back to School

Summary: A tablet may be the perfect gift to send your student packing back to the dorm. ZDNet's James Kendrick shares 5 tablets that will work for students. Your student may sometimes need a keyboard to get the most out of a tablet, and all of these have them available as shown in the photos. These tablets can be found online at major retailers like Amazon, and most of them are also available at major stores like Best Buy. All prices shown are suggested retail prices; discounts are often available online.


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  • The iPad 2 is the tablet that will work for any student wishing to take it out of the box and get busy. There are thousands of apps available in the Apple App Store to round out the user experience, and the long battery life will keep your student working on the iPad all day.

    MSRP (16GB, Wi-Fi) $499

    Don't miss our coverage of the entire tablet world on ZDNet Mobile News.

  • The Logitech case contains a full keyboard that turns the iPad 2 into a laptop once popped into the dock. When closed the case protects the iPad 2 in the gear bag, and when in the dock lots of text entry is as easy to do as with any laptop.

    MSRP $99.99

Topics: Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Tablets

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  • RE: 5 Tablets for Back to School

    Given the slim price difference between one of the tablets plus a keyboard and a budget laptop or higher-end netbook, why would a cash-strapped college student opt for a tablet, when a full-blown computer is about the same price, has WAY more storage, and more capabilities? And with Android emulators available, and a PC version of Angry Birds, there's really no reason to opt for a tablet over a full pc.
    • Amen to your analysis

      For the $650 for a tablet and a keyboard one can get a darn good laptop, an I5 with 6gb ram, a 750 gb drive and a dedicated video card. Plus the ability to run office plus specialist software used for your major. There really is no comparison functionally. A tablet is a convenience for games, tweets, emails and streaming. Good for socializing and leisure and some study/work. But a laptop or desktop can do much more. In fact, a netbook, at half the price of a tablet, plus an inexpensive keyboard can do much more.

      For the adventurous, a small form factor linux laptop is the most cost effective option yet. It can do anything needed for undergraduate school at one-third to one-fourth the price and leave money in the bank for other technology, games or whatever else you need. For those who are insecure, Wine can run office 2003 and Crossover can run office 2007 under linux. A distribution like Ubuntu Ultimate or Mint includes all the drivers and additional programs you need to run, rip and record your media. There is even a bunch of software for running windows games in Linux.
      • RE: 5 Tablets for Back to School


        With that kind of laptop you will be running to class to try and grab one of the few power outlets. Please don't be one of those people. If you want/need a laptop in class get something decent, not a budget laptop that gets 2 hours of battery life on a good day and weighs over 5 pounds.

        And as for netbooks, I used one in class for 2 weeks and was constantly annoyed at its speed and small screen size.
      • RE: 5 Tablets for Back to School

        @jdubow@... I agree. My choice is the Dell Inspiron Duo. It can be a laptop, it can be a multi-touch tablet. It's a tad shy on memory, but it is not my main computer.
      • RE: 5 Tablets for Back to School

        @jdubow@... <br>I run a full Linux distro, Mandriva, on my netbook. I can also dual boot to Android X86 with full hardware support. Touch screen and keyboard with full hardware support, 3G and WiFi all working!
        So I have a portable device with everything my main desktop can do as well as access to the Android market apps for quick tasks when I don't need the full desktop experience. Win win!
        Johan Safari
      • RE: 5 Tablets for Back to School

        @toltz... Then you will be very annoyed by a Tablet's screen size.
      • RE: 5 Tablets for Back to School


        As James stated in the article, a tablet makes an excellent companion to a laptop. Thus you can review and read on the tablet while taking notes on the laptop comfortably and not miss a thing. The annoyance is when you have a 10-14 inch laptop screen and you are trying to follow along with pdf or word documents with the professor while taking notes on a laptop. You have to end up either switching back and forth or doing split screen which makes for tiny type.

        My personal issue is trying to multitask on a smaller laptop screen is not an enjoyable experience for me. The tablet allows me to carry that lighter smaller laptop and not miss the screen real estate
    • RE: 5 Tablets for Back to School

      @julie.holmes@... I agree that in most cases, a laptop will be more useful to most college students than a tablet - if they can only have one device. However, while a notebook does many things that a tablet doesn't do (or doesn't do well), there are also multiple things that a tablet does that a notebook doesn't do well - even with an Android emulator: more portable, better ebook reader, easier affordable 3G access, etc.
      • RE: 5 Tablets for Back to School

        Mo way is a tablet an acceptable e reader. I have an IPad and it is a waste of space, No power to do anything useful, not very useful for taking notes. I use an Iphone and laptop with a dedicated e reader. The backlit screens are hard on the eyes
    • RE: 5 Tablets for Back to School


      Agreed. You want your child to be productive not limited by a touch interface that lacks the full functionality of a laptop computer.

      Here's my list of 5.
      1) Laptop
      2) Laptop
      3) Laptop
      4) Laptop
      5) Laptop
    • RE: 5 Tablets for Back to School

      I am in need of three netbooks/laptops for myself at Uni and my sons at High School and am grateful for your advice as I was interested in the tablests but not now. Thanks.
  • That's a surprise -

    I though I was going to see the iPad2 five times. :)
    William Pharaoh
    • Actually that's not a bad idea:)

      @William Pharaoh Just saying....

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
    • RE: 5 Tablets for Back to School

      @William Pharaoh the iproducts are not the only or the best game in town for all needs. I find that the ASUS Transformer to be a better solution for those who need both a tablet and the functionality of a laptop, at times. All in one portable unit when docked. I get 12-16 hours of use on mine, when using the keyboard dock periodically.
      • I agree...


        My ipad sits in work. I bought the transformer to plop films in, attach USB, attach HDMI easily and to be honest rarely detach the keyboard. I'd rather have the screen for display and touch than a virtual keyboard.

        I'll bet you one thing. If Apple made it there would be a whole raft of zealots who'd do a u-turn and like it.

        ps Wouldn't it be funny if Apple added a keyboard option; except they'd probably claim a patent on it. Its a funny old world.
      • I agree too

        The ASUS transformer is quite good and at a price which is the lowest of all available tabs in the market. I like this device so much that I have almost stopped using my laptop as most of the tasks are done on it. With the keyboard dock it is amazing. The battery life is so good that I dont need to charge for 2 days. :)
        It is good if one is a avid reader as you dont need to hold those heavy books anymore :)
        I have never been a fan of an Apple iPAD though it is a good device.
  • RE: 5 Tablets for Back to School

    Maybe it is good for viewing things, but for typing, no way ...
    • RE: 5 Tablets for Back to School

      Get a Motion Computing CL900. It runs all your Office apps (typing papers anyone?), any other Windows app (QuickBooks Pro you accountants? PhotoShop anyone?) and it's RUGGED because it will be dropped. Yet for note-taking, you'll use OneNote and a pen. Been a match-made-in-heaven for me (though I have an older LE model with a bigger original price tag, and only semi-rugged).
    • RE: 5 Tablets for Back to School

      @AdnanPirota Yep...I was about to say "Tablets for students? Hahahaha."

      Until tablets get some sort of comprehensive handwriting application, there's no reason not to get a laptop. Except for the "cool" factor, of course. I see kids in my classes with tablets, and they're using them to have a handheld version of the powerpoint lecture in their laps. Redundant, imo. The students with the laptops also have the lecture up, but they're taking notes, because they have an input device (keyboard).
  • RE: 5 Tablets for Back to School

    While these may look nice for the school perspective, you need three things:
    1. Keyboard for typing more than a short paper
    2. Find out what software you need for your classes - odds are it won't exist in tablet app form
    3. Ability to print (and don't give me the lame a$$ iOS print function - btdtmo)

    All in all, I suspect a good low end notebook is a better option at this stage.

    Now if you can get your textbooks on a tablet.....