Student Guide - How to Buy the Right Tablet PC

Discussion in 'News Headlines' started by Barry J. Doyle, Jul 18, 2006.

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  1. Barry J. Doyle

    Barry J. Doyle Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    The month of July is halfway over.Students all over the worldhave begun to preparefor another busy school year this fall.In addition tothe "kids" headed to universities for undergraduate work (outside ofpartying, chasing co-eds).There aregraduate students, medical students, law students andeventhose preparing to go abroad for schooling.

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    Summer is coming to an end. It's time to get serious! (well for some)

    At the top of many students'"to do lists"is to purchase a piece of technology to serve as the primary tool to organize, connect, take and store class notes and produce written work to be handed in to demanding professors.

    Some students will choose a desktop computer. Many are seeking a notebook computer. Chances are if you are reading this piece, right here at TabletPCReviewSpot.com, then you are one of the best computing devices for the academic community at large - the Tablet PC!


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    Who knows how far the Tablet PC will take you?

    The Tablet PC is a very exciting and powerful platform, however Tablet PCs vary greatlyin designs, features, capabilities and price. Making the right choicecan bea daunting and confusingtask.To help makethe process easy, we have outlinedsomestepstoguide you through the confusion and hype.Read on toassure that you make the right choicein your Tablet PC purchase!Weare hereto help you with our specialtips on "How to Buy the Right Tablet PC".


    Step One - Decide What "Kind" of Tablet PC You Need

    The best place to start is by deciding what kind of computer you plan to carry around. Or is it going to stay on your desk?. Perhaps you aren't the type to take it with you. Will your Tablet PC sit on your desk 90% of the time? Will your Tablet PC go with you to class every day? Knowing how, when and where you will be using your Tablet PC is an essiential first step in deciding which models to consider for purchase. Once you answer these questions, you will want to choose between three majorclasses:


      ultraportables

      thin-and-lights

      desktop replacements</L>

      The "ultraportable" Tablet PC will allow moderate battery life andadd practically no weight to your bag. These models offercompromised processing power and stick to the basicfeatures you need to connect wirelessly on the go.ultraportables perform the majority of typical daily computing tasks, but often offer a small screen of 10" or less.

      note: We are including "slate"Tablet PCs (no keyboard) here, since slates aregenerally very light, but limited in overallprocessing power.

      In this category, you would consider models such as the Fujitsu LifeBook P1500, Samsung Q1 UMPCand the Motion ComputingLE1600. Remember that the "ultraportable" class of devices are really not the best choice for your "only" computer. Having a full desktop back atyour dorm or apartment will complement this option perfectly.


      "Thin-and-light" Tablet PCs are a perfect compromise for most users and in my opinion an excellentoption for students. These models typically offer several hours of battery life, a palatable screen size (12" or more) and handle daily computing tasks with ease. Extended battery options, wireless connectivity and a variety of external ports are the types of features you will find in this class of Tablet PCs. Models in the thin-and-light category include the Toshiba Portege M400, HP Compaq TC4400, Fujitsu LifeBook T4210and the IMB/Lenovo ThinkPad X41.


      For those users who want to have a large and/or widescreendisplay, a full-sized keyboard, and perhaps play games the "desktop replacement" category of Tablet PCs may be the right type for you. Although you geta large display, extra power, optical drives standard(note: some "ultraportables" do have an optical drive) and generally better graphics performance, a desktop replacement can be too heavy to carry around comfortably. It is a larger machine that will take up more space in your bag and on yourclassroom desk.The extra power requirements for the bigger screen willleave you with hardly more than an hour or soof battery life.However,if you don't care to carry your Tablet PC with you on the go, adesktop replacement makes a perfect "only" computer and will handle just about any demanding computing task you throw at it. Some models in this class to consider are the Toshiba Satellite R20/R25, Gateway M285, Toshiba Tecra M7 and Acer TravelMate C310.



      StepTwo - Decide What Features You Require

      It is a good idea to create a list of features that you must have on your Tablet PC before you begin to shop. It can be overwhelming to look at all of the bells and whistles a particular model offers all at once. The point of sale is when you may get sidetracked andoverlook animportant feature. We recommend that you jot down a list ahead of timeand be prepared to check it over before finalizing a purchase.

      Here is our list of recommended features to consider for your needs. You can use this as a starting point for your own list:


        Optical Drive - Does it offer DVD playback, DVD burning, CD Burning?


        RAM - You will need 512MB of RAM minimum. Do you require more for video editing orother demanding tasks such as CAD or rendering with Photoshop filters?


        Hard Drive - We recommend a hard drive that spins at 5400RPM (or faster)and no less than 4200RPM. Will your drive be big enough to store all of your music, school files and programs? These days 60GB or more usuallydoes the trick. You may require 80GB or more if you need to work with video or store large files.


        Keyboard -Do you need a keyboard built-in (convertible Tablet PC)? Is the keyboard large enough for typing long papers?


        Wireless - Does the Tablet PChave Wi-Fi built in? Do you need Bluetooth to connect to amobile phone or BT modem?


        Expansion/Ports - Can you install your current EVDO (wireless LAN card)? Does this model have a built-in smart card reader? Does it read the cards from your digital camera? Are there enough USB ports for your needs, etc.




        StepThree -Plan Your Budget/ Research Discounts

        You probably already know how much youhave tospend on your new Tablet PC. But did you also consider the cost for the software you will need to buy also? Be sure to calculate the total cost of everything you will need so that you don't find yourself with a Tablet PC and no money to buy any required software.

        Be sure to check your eligablility for student discounts on any software titles you will need. You can save hundreds of dollars by going this route. Look into your campus store or better yet visit sites like Academic Superstore to save 30%-70% on everyday sofware titles delivered right to your door! You would be amazed at how much less you will spend on your software with the full-featured "academic versions".



        Final Words

        Read reviews and opinions on specificTablet PC modelsright hereon TabletPCReviewSpot.com. Read the forums and feel free to ask questions before you buy your tablet so that youare informed and feel confident in the model you decide to purchase. If you have just read this article, then you are already prepared to make a good decision for theright Tablet PC for you!


        Barry J. Doyle
        Editior in Chief
        TabletPCReviewSpot.com



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    Last edited by a moderator: May 18, 2015
  2. jadam

    jadam Pen Pal - Newbie

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    No mention of the Acer c204? Probally falls somewhere inbetween "thin and light" and "desktop replacement"

    Its a great little powerful tablet =]
     
  3. Barry J. Doyle

    Barry J. Doyle Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    You are exactly right. The C204 could make a nice compromise on that end, especially with the dedicated graphics option (custom ordered).
     
  4. {NOC}MONK

    {NOC}MONK Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Barry,
    Thanks for the guide. It was very informative.:)
     
  5. Barry J. Doyle

    Barry J. Doyle Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    I am really glad to hear that you found it helpful! I am hoping that it helps a lot of people who might be in the crunch to buy a tablet right now.
     
  6. Brian

    Brian Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    With all the tv commercials lately for "convertible notebooks" I'm sure students will look at the Tablet PC platform more this year than any other to date.
     
  7. BenjaminRies

    BenjaminRies Scribbler - Standard Member

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    "An hour or so"??! As a student I thank you for putting this piece together, but I'm not sure where you got this particular estimate of battery life (based on the "desktop replacement" models you've listed). In general, don't desktop replacements tend to have larger batteries to make up for the larger power requirements, which is why they weigh so much?

    Actually, based on the most recent models, it seems like "desktop replacements" are edging out "thin and light" tablets in terms of standard battery life. Witness the R25's user-reported 3.5 hour runtime vs. your own tests of the T4210 and user reports on the M400.
     
  8. Abtakha

    Abtakha Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Well, I know my brother's desktop replacement is dead in no more than an hour or two once the discrete graphics get going. The computer is probably about a year old.
     
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