Best Tablet for Middle School Student?

Discussion in 'What Tablet PC Should I Buy?' started by tymothy, Dec 2, 2006.

  1. hollylee

    hollylee Pen Pal - Newbie

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    My daughter is in 7th grade and needs a new computer. We just saw a friend's tablet computer for the first time and thought it was great. She is creative, likes to draw, uses the internet and needs it for reports and note-taking. Any recommendations for a younger user -- perhaps something that would take her through high school? She's had her desktop since she was five, so it's time for a new computer.

    Any input / suggestions would be appreciated.


  2. P8RSON

    P8RSON Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Holly, I'm assuming we are talking of something light in weight and not big in carrying around.
    The IBM x60 is very light but doesn't have a built in DVDRW Optical drive.

    If you want a convertible tablet (with built in keyboard) and I would recommend a convertible over a slate, I would recommend the Fujitsu T4210/4215.

    Now I'm not just recommending this simply because I myself own one but having seen my young niece (aged 12) using mine, she finds it simple to use and carry around.

    It has a good solid screen which incidentally is the only tablet that can rotate it's screen both Left & Right (other tablets only rotate to the left).
    The pen is located in the screen making it easy to access and not loose.
    The keyboard is excellent and well laid out.
    Weight is just higher than the IBM x60 but when you consider the T4210/4215 already has the DVDRW built in, this cancels out a lot of the weight penalties.
    Incidentally, the DVDRW is modular, which means if your Daughter does not require the drive at the time, it can be replaced for a second battery ~ thus improving it's already excellent battery and mobile time in use.
  3. Daring

    Daring Moderator

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    Holly, first let me say what a kind mother you are. I had a bit of a time convincing my wife that I needed a tablet, I'm quite certain that I'd have zero success selling her on a tablet for my son (also in 7th grade). I agree with P8RSON, a convertible is your best option. I'm not a huge advocate of built in CD/DVD players, but in your daughters case this may be a good choice as playing CDs or DVDs in off time make the tablet that much more useful.

    You mention lasting her through high school and I'm of the opinion that more frequent upgrading is better. You could spend $3000 for a computer that would last 6 years or spend $1500-$1800 now and another $1500 3 years from now. The cost is about the same, but you get all of the new developments on the new machine.

    If I were buying for my son my top priorities would be:

    1. Price. You don't specify a price, but schools aren't the safest haven for notebooks. You may even want to consider a refurbished (that is what I use) as it will save you as much as $500. Whatever you buy get an accidental damage protection policy as kids are just more accident prone.

    2. Weight. The difference between 4 lbs and 6 lbs may seem small, but sadly most schools aren't getting rid of books. A few extra pounds may be the straw that broke the students back.

    3. Battery life. Few tablets provide true all day life, however run times of 4-6 hours aren't beyond reason. Carrying a cord around adds weight and makes for a school that would be an OSHA nightmare. Cut the cord.

    If price isn't a consideration, the Fujitsu mentioned is a solid choice. I have an HP and am very satisfied, but like the IBM no built in optical drive. The Toshiba M400 may also be something to look at. That said, you may want to give last years model a look and check out refurbs. They look and feel new on everything except the pricetag.
  4. tymothy

    tymothy Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Your daughter is in 7th grade. I hope that she's certainly responsible enough to understand that a tablet PC cannot be slung around like a book of similiar dimensions. I don't actually see her needs for middle/high school extending far beyond any bare bones entry-level desktop/laptop. Tablet PCs always have a slight price premium attached to them (I'd say about $400 difference between a nontablet version of identical specifications), which could easily be twice that of an entry level laptop. If you are planning to spend a solid amount on her next computer (1500-2k+) then such a premium is minor. If you want the most ideal setup, read on:

    I'd suggest my setup for her. I'm currently a freshman in college and have a Scribbler 3100 tablet by Electrovaya. It's extremely light (3.5 lbs) and thin (.75 inches) and has a battery run-time of a *claimed* 9 hours (under normal settings with the wireless on and medium brightness, I get about 5-6 hours). It has a 12 inch screen and is a "slate" tablet, there's no hinged keyboard, it's actually detachable. In this form, it is the ideal note-taking machine, integrated microphones record lectures and Microsoft OneNote syncs the audio with whatever you've written down. During play back, the notes you recorded at that time will light up as the audio gets played back. Handwriting is very good; I have very messy handwriting but it looks much better on the tablet than on paper.

    Now we have some weaknesses: a 12 inch screen is just fine for taking notes (it's the size of notebook paper sans margins) but cramped for writing a full page word document. The detachable keyboard is not full size, again, not key for typing a paper. Also, there is no internal DVD drive.

    Solution? Extras! A nice 20 inch external monitor paired with wireless mouse and keyboard makes typing far better than on any laptop or tablet. Add in an external DVD burner for your movies/burning and you have the best of both worlds- an ultramobile PC with portability when you need it and an "at home" option to let you get a full desktop experience when you don't.

    I think it's silly to make unnecessary sacrifices,either having a "portable pc" made too clunky by unneeded internal devices or an ultra mobile that's too cramped to do anything productive on comfortably.

    I absolutely adore my setup and while the scribbler is not going to be winning any prizes for 3D rendering or anything very heavy, it's just fine at handling the dozen or so standard programs you like to have open at once like AIM,Word,Outlook,IE,DVD playback, iTunes,etc.

    Cost? The base price of the scribbler is $1600 or so I believe. You should get the full 1280 MB RAM option. That, plus all of the extras I mentioned will be around 2k. Again this is a somewhat pricey option for a tablet, but if you want a tablet, get a tablet the right way. Otherwise, stick to a budget laptop/desktop with upgraded memory.

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