Top tablets for students

Today´s tablet market features a dizzying array of kit. Which is best for students?

27 Aug 2013


With the start of the university academic year just around the corner, new students up and down the land will be gearing up for the start of a whole new life. Heading off to university is lots of things: exciting, yes, definitely, but a little scary too…in fact, we doubt there's any student who hasn't geared up for their uni lives in a heady mixture of anticipation and trepidation.

But before this turns into an agony aunt column, let's cut to the chase. You're off to university - so you're going to need some tech kit to help you through those lectures, seminars, library sessions and essay-deadline-all-nighters, not to mention watching the finale of Breaking Bad and meeting new mates on Facebook.

Thankfully, you're about to go to uni in an age of near technological marvel. The sheer number of laptops, notebooks, ultrabooks, tablets and plain old desktops on the market today is staggering, and the things they can do even more impressive. But today's blog is all about tablets. From email access, internet, video chat, images, sound recording, media content, games, books, magazines, apps - today's tablets offer all sorts.

So here's our guide to the best tablets for students in 2013 - for what could well be the best years of your life.

First off - do you even need a tablet for university?

We think so. They complement nicely a laptop or PC. Way we'd do it (but we're not telling you what to do!) is to use your laptop or desktop as your 'home' computer (in your halls or shared house) and use a tablet for when you're out and about.

They're designed with this in mind, so are great for stuff like attending lectures (to make notes with, not go on Twitter) or reading a book on the bus into town. Also, given the prevalence of public Wi-Fi these days, they're pretty nifty for checking train times when you head home for the weekend or between terms.

Our top tablets for students:

Nexus 7 Black

Google Nexus 7

Google's seven-inch Nexus tablet makes for a great university choice. For one thing, they're affordable: you can get hold of a new Nexus 7 for around £199.99, which is some way under the cost of its other rivals.

And the Nexus is budget only in price. This is a real humdinger of a machine, and is regularly named among the best tablets on the market. The smaller size of the Nexus 7 means you can take it anywhere, it's not cumbersome and easily slips into a handbag or rucksack.

The Nexus is a great device if you're looking to combine business with pleasure. The versatility of the Android system means a great number of apps (many of them free) are available for you to try out and use. So if you don't like that keyboard app or to-do list, bin it and try something new.

One thing it's worth pointing out about the Nexus is that its keyboard isn't quite as versatile as, say, an iPad.

Depending on what you want to use it for, this might not matter. But one thing you can do is plug-in a standard keyboard to the Nexus via a USB adaptor. That way you can type away to your heart's content from the old keyboard that's been stuck in the loft for years.




Microsoft Surface

We think the Surface doesn't really get the attention it deserves. Because you could look at Microsoft's flagship tablet as something pretty ground-breaking. Pretty and practical, this thoughtfully designed device has the look and feel of a laptop and has a great, grab-hold-of-it keyboard.

The Surface's distinctive design boasts a 10.6-inch display and it runs the Windows 8 OS. So what's also pretty nifty about the Surface is that it comes with touch-optimised versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint - so if you're used to using these from your time at college or sixth form then this will really suit you when it comes to doing uni essays and presentations.

What's more, the Surface comes complete with a USB port (which many tablets don't have), so you can upload files from a flash drive or charge your smartphone - handy if you're dashing about campus trying to get that essay in on time and you need to ring your mum.

One (possible) downside is that the Surface doesn't have many apps - but if you're not bothered about playing Angry Birds then you've nothing to worry about.

Note1 Samsung Galaxy Note

The Samsung 8-inch Galaxy Note, powered by the Android OS, features the company's distinctive S-Pen style for accurate writing and drawing. This comes in real handy during lectures, and is also great for annotating course literature on the bus or train.

The tablet's 'MultiWindow' facility is also great for multi-tasking - something you'll probably be doing an awful lot of during your first months at university. Need to juggle notes, directions, a to-do list, that shopping you need and the location of the nearest launderette, all at the same time? You can with the Note.

We reckon the Note is a great choice for students taking creative courses like design and art thanks to its range of expressive tools. Paper Artist, for example, allows users to use brushes to create drawings, paintings and illustrations. Perfect for when you get that spark of an idea and need to jot something down.

Keep an eye on TechTalk for more tablet reviews & news to come!

Do you already have a tablet for uni? What's the best feature and would you recommend it for other students? Comment below...