Back-to-school season typically brings about one desire for most students: an upgrade in technology. Since technology is an ever-changing market, it is hard to find the best value and the best price. The most expensive item college students have to purchase is typically a laptop, but with new technological advances, tablets seem to be the new craze for students.
But is that really the best option for college students? Tablets may seem initially cheaper, more portable and all-around more appealing, but if students sit down and actually compare tablets to laptops, they will find laptops outshine tablets for the following four reasons.
Laptops may seem expensive since the least-expensive models start at $350, and tablets like Google’s Nexus 7 cost as little as $199. Many critics report that the iPad tablet is the best decision for the price. The iPad costs $399 for a quality processor and 16 MB of storage, but that was last year’s model.
Want the newest version with the retina display and faster processor? That will cost $499. With the purchase of a tablet comes the desire to purchase the 3G data plan. These plans run monthly and can cost upwards of $45.
Still think laptops are more expensive? Do not forget about all of the programs you will need. Microsoft Office Home and Student cost a one-time payment of $99 for one license for a laptop. For a tablet, students are often forced to download the knock-off version of Microsoft Word and Excel.
Another argument that can be made for the tablet is its portability. Most tablets only weigh a few ounces at most, whereas laptops can weigh as much as seven pounds. With portability comes the attractiveness of theft. The smaller the object, the easier it is for thieves to pick it up and take it.
With portability also comes the possibility of dropping the tablet. Dropping tablets often results in expensive cracks and dents. IPads, which are currently considered the best tablet on the market, have glass screens prone to cracks and chips that can cost upwards of $100 for a new screen. Laptops may seem like they are incredibly heavy when comparing them side-by-side to tablets; however, most laptops are not that heavy in actuality. Laptops are generally as heavy as a two-inch binder full of notes and handouts. The convenience and utility of a laptop outshines the weight of any binder.
Tablets are great for watching videos, playing games and typing out simple messages on email. Anything more than that gets complicated. Tablets do not have word-processing software, so the note-taking apps tend to be newly constructed apps that have numerous kinks yet to be revised.
The iPad and other tablets have keyboards that are difficult to adjust to due to the small size and spacing of the keys. Editing is also a hassle on a tablet.
Trying to use your finger as a cursor is frustrating and often ends up with the cursor in a completely different area of the page than was wanted. With laptops comes the ease of having a standard-sized keyboard as well as a mouse. Although a laptop is not considered as high-tech as a tablet, it often is easier to use than a touchscreen tablet.
Lastly, textbooks tend to cost almost twice what students pay to rent them from websites such as CollegeBookRenter.com and Chegg. com. These eBook prices may initially seem cheaper, but most textbooks can be bought used for half the price on websites such as Amazon and can be sold back at the end of the semester.
E-textbooks are such a new market, there are not many places from which to purchase books, so the price seen is usually the price students have to pay.
In the end, if a tablet is what students end up purchasing, after a few months and a paper or two, they will be regretting their decision and craving a laptop with a real keyboard, mouse and what will seem like an immense amount of internal storage space.
Even though it may seem like tablets are the next big thing for college students, they are not. Price, portability and usability are far better for a laptop than a tablet when it comes down to it.