5 questions to ask before buying a tablet for university

Will you be working on it? Is it for watching Netflix? Do you need to get online when you are out and about? We´ll answer these and other questions...

22 Jun 2015


A tablet can be a great option for taking notes and researching topics online or reading PDFs. They tend to be thinner and lighter than many laptops, which make them ideal for portability, and the touchscreen offers a simple-to-use interface that lets you get things done quickly.

1) Where will you use the tablet?


Will you be making notes in lectures? Doing some research in the library? Surfing the internet back at your halls or checking emails on the train? Tablets come in different sizes, with the 2 most common size ranges being 7-8 inches and 9-10.5 inches. Think about how you will use the tablet to select the right size for you.

Out and about - smaller tablet

Smaller tablets are perfect for travel. They're small and lightweight. Great for web browsing and reading e-books, but not so great for watching movies and working for longer periods of time.

What makes a smaller tablet great?

  • Small and light enough to carry around all day
  • Long battery life to last your journey
  • Get online anywhere with 3G mobile broadband

Weighing just 341g and offering 10 hours battery along with a much sharper screen than many other small tablets, the iPad Mini 3 is a great small tablet.

At home - larger tablet

If you're mainly going to use the tablet at home, look at larger devices. These are perfect for watching movies and TV, looking at more detailed PDFs or for gaming, thanks to larger, sharper screens and more powerful processors.

What makes a larger tablet great?

  • High-resolution screen - some are sharper than Full HD TVs
  • Faster processor - particularly for gaming and multitasking

With a sharp screen and fast processor, Google Nexus 9 is a great full-size tablet

2) Should you choose Apple, or Android or Windows?

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There are three major operating systems for tablets – Apple iOS, Google Android or Microsoft Windows. If you have other devices that use the same operating system you’ll find it much easier to synchronise and transfer data between them. In addition, you may already have some accessories, such as speakers, designed to connect to devices with specific operating systems. Many people find they get the best value from choosing a tablet that matches up with their other devices.


Apple iPads and iPhones are powered by iOS. It's simple to understand, intuitive and easy to use. You can sync all your Apple devices to share movies, music, calendars and contacts between them. Choose from over 1 million apps, and download music, TV shows and films from iTunes.


Android runs on Google-branded tablets as well as those from Samsung, Asus and more. You can customise your home screen with notifications and widgets for weather, music and news. Download apps, music and movies from the Google Play Store. And you can sync your tablet and Android phone to share calendars, settings and apps.


Windows tablets are great for working. They're compatible with Microsoft Office, and the new Windows 10 platform, so you can run Word, Excel and PowerPoint. You can also sync with Windows phones and laptops to share calendars and email.

3) Do you want to watch movies and TV?

Tablet Watching

Streaming TV shows and movies from services like Netflix and BBC iPlayer is becoming more and more popular. Many of these services have apps for tablets that make viewing easy. If this is going to be a major feature for you, look at models with high-resolution screens.

Screen resolution describes how many pixels are on the screen - more pixels mean a clearer, sharper and more defined picture. Full HD resolution is 1920x1080p. Here are 2 tablets with better-than-Full-HD screens:

Samsung Galaxy Tab S:  Expect a picture that's vibrant and colourful. The Super AMOLED display covers 94 per cent of the colour range - landscapes, objects and people seem more lifelike.

Apple iPad Air 2: The picture is sharp and rich in detail with Apple's Retina display. You shouldn't be able to discern individual pixels, and blacks are blacker and whites brighter. Reading in the sun is improved by the screen's anti-glare coating.

4) Is it powerful enough for your needs?

Tablet Multitask

Not all tablets are the same, and some will be able to handle demanding tasks better than others. Key things to look at are:

  • the amount of memory the tablet has
  • how powerful the processor is

A processor is your tablet's brain. It handles how fast it can run and how well it can multi-task. If you’re going to be using the tablet for things like photo editing, music creation, gaming or just need to multi-task with lots of apps at once you should choose a tablet with a powerful processor.

For more standard tasks such as taking notes, web browsing, updating social media and streaming movies, you shouldn’t need such a powerful tablet.

2 tablets with superfast processors:

Apple iPad Air 2: Great for high-end gaming and photo and graphic editing thanks to the A8X chip - a processor as fast and as powerful as many desktop computers. Switching between apps, or running multiple apps is smooth too.

Google Nexus 9: The most demanding games are smooth and responsive thanks to the NVIDIA Tegra K1 - a processor designed to run proper PC games, as well as switching between multiple apps without delay.

5) Do you need internet access when out and about?

Tablet Out And About

If you plan on using your tablet mainly at home and have access to a wireless network, then a Wi-Fi model may be fine.

If you need to access the internet when out and about – accessing coursework you’ve saved online, or doing some research in the library - then opt for a 3G or 4G model. 3G and 4G mobile broadband lets you get online when out and about, but you will need to pay for a monthly data plan to use it. 

Want to keep connected on the go? Check out our tips for staying connected whilst you are out and about around campus.

Whatever tablet you choose to take to university with you we're here to help. Discover everything you need for your studies at Currys.

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