Buyer’™s guide to tablet computers

Campuslife asked three students to test the most popular devices on the market to see how useful they would be to university life

Since Apple launched their first iPad in 2010, tablet computers have found their way into the bags, bedrooms and lives of many students around the world. As other manufacturers have got involved the choice of device grows bigger every month, but are tablets set to be the dominating force for student learning and living over the next few years? Have they evolved enough for our students to ditch their laptops and embrace a touch-screen future or do today’s tablets offer nothing more than an oversized smartphone?

Our testers:

Biomedical Science
Currently owns: iPhone and MacBook

English Literature and Language
Currently owns: Samsung Galaxy and Windows laptop

Business Studies
Currently owns: iPhone and Windows laptop 

Apple iPad

Apple currently offer a variety of iPads ranging in price from the iPad mini at £249 to the 128GB Wi-Fi and cellular iPad Air at a student loan busting £739.

The second-hand market is full of older iPads allowing budget conscious students to pick one up at a reasonable price. Their latest operating system iOS7 brings a new look and feel to this style icon and will run on all iPads from the iPad 2 onwards.

Microsoft Surface

Microsoft’s tablet, the Surface, has faced some criticism since it first ‘surfaced’ in 2012, but with recent updates to Windows 8.1 coupled with the new Surface 2 (from £359) and Surface Pro 2 (from £719), products offered alongside the original Surface tablet (from £297), they have something for everyone. The most noticeable thing about the Surface is its built in ‘kickstand’ and ‘touch cover’ (from £64). Could Microsoft have shushed the biggest critics of tablet computers who will always claim that you can’t do ‘proper’ work on a device that doesn’t have a physical keyboard? Or is it all for show?

Google Nexus 7

The Nexus 7 stands out due to its competitive pricing (from just £199) and large user base thanks to the popularity of the Android operating system on various smartphones over the last few years. With some supermarkets now offering Android tablets for under £100, Google’s Android platform currently poses the biggest threat to Apple’s crown in the mobile device market.

Our three testers, Harriet, Emily and Ali are all current students at different universities and in different years of study. They all lived / have lived in university accommodation. None of them currently own a tablet computer. We asked each of them to spend time using each of the three tablets both individually and as a group. We set them a number of tasks to complete including online research, taking down lecture notes, reading an e-book, and searching for apps in each devices app stores.