Which Slate/Tablet PC should I buy for engineering school?

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  1. #1
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    Default Which Slate/Tablet PC should I buy for engineering school?

    I'll be starting at the University of Texas at Tyler next fall to get my core courses out of the way, then plan on transferring to UT Austin after a year. I would like to get a Tablet PC either next fall or after my first year. I'll be using it to take notes containing technical drawings (formulas, diagrams, etc.) and possibly for typing documents on, although I do have a notebook for that. Basically, the tablet needs to have digitizer capabilities, and I prefer a full fledged OS, especially so I can load the Microsoft Home and Student Suite on it. Another thing I would like to be able to do on it is load AutoCAD/Inventor drawings on for purposes of presentation and reference, as well as possibly drawing some basic designs while in class.

    I've been looking at several tablets with Windows 7 (soon 8?):
    - Samsung Series 7 Slate
    - ASUS EP121
    - Lenovo X220

    Besides picking one of the above (or another if anyone suggests one), I also don't know whether to buy one now or wait until Windows 8 - and it's respective tablets - come out later this year and decide then. I do not plan on updating for 3 or 4 years, so I want to make sure I get something that will keep up with the new changes, such as Windows 8, that will come in the near future. Will I be making a mistake by buying one now? If not, what do you suggest based on my situation?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Which Slate/Tablet PC should I buy for engineering school?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaelin View Post
    I've been looking at several tablets with Windows 7 (soon 8?):
    - Samsung Series 7 Slate
    - ASUS EP121
    - Lenovo X220

    Besides picking one of the above (or another if anyone suggests one), I also don't know whether to buy one now or wait until Windows 8 - and it's respective tablets - come out later this year and decide then.[/B]
    I would add the HP 2760p to your current list. It's 16:10 ratio provides more tablet real estate in portrait orientation. Its outdoor viewable display has both multitouch and pen functions.

    That being said, I would not be buying anything yet. With Ivy Bridge, ultrabooks and W8 in the offing, I suspect there will be some really interesting designs, possibly an ultrabook convertible, released by the end of the year. A lot of us are waiting to see what the future will bring.
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    Default Re: Which Slate/Tablet PC should I buy for engineering school?

    Hm... I haven't looked into that Tablet PC yet. I'll definitely do that. Honestly, I am leaning a little more toward waiting, based on what I read. However, I really am a little uneducated on the tablet market and what's coming in the near future, as far as the new Windows 7 and (soon) Windows 8 tablet/slates coming up. ANY information will be helpful.

    Any more suggestions?

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    Default Re: Which Slate/Tablet PC should I buy for engineering school?

    If you are looking to be able to keep your unit for a number of years (and are not into the disposable personal electronics that smartphones and ipads have become) then a top-end processor is a must for you. As a parent of an upcoming senior AE student at GT, I know you'll be spending lots of time with Matlab creating animated graphics, and rendering 3D drawings in Inventor or some other software package can literally take days. My kid's X200T has physically held up very very well with lots of travel time off campus Even with it's now dated processor, every time I ask her or point her to sale on a new laptop she's not interested. She has Win7 ultimate, and we upgraded the unit's memory, and hard drive to the max.

    In every case you can't upgrade the CPU, but you can upgrade memory, storage if need be or even the network card. Inventor can take advantage of some of the GPU's on the market (go to the web site and see which ones).

    IMHO, the Lenovo is only one that is sturdy enough with it's magnesium alloy case, and can be had with a top-end CPU and as the new Intel motherboards are hitting the market soon, older versions should drop in price. Do plan on getting a desktop monitor, keyboard and/or an elevated stand for the unit (or other slate) as bending over the desk to view it's 12" screen 8-15hrs a day is a pain in the back, you'll regret. Please check with your school IT dept or bookstore for discounted 4 yr warranty included versions or go though Lenovo's school portal for a 10-15% discount (which doesn't mean you won't find it cheaper, but means that you'll most likely get the drop/spill warranty in the price).

    Convertibles are expensive however. You may find that most of your fellow students do without them, and simply use T420's or some other 14-15" laptop with a high-end processor and decent screen.

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    Default Re: Which Slate/Tablet PC should I buy for engineering school?

    Lenovo is offering a discount on the convertible X220t for students right now.

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    Default Re: Which Slate/Tablet PC should I buy for engineering school?

    @Stan S. - That was a very helpful post! You're right, I guess I can always upgrade the memory, HD, and such. I'll make sure I get the most top-end processor I can. It's good to know that the Lenovo X series stands well for using Matlab and Inventor.

    @pepper john - Thanks so much for noting that! I had looked at the prices for the X220's before, but I didn't think about looking under "Education" to see if they had student discounts. They are indeed offering great discounts for them right now!

    So, I'm looking into the X220's now and seriously considering them. Another question... Say I do like to play a couple high end games every now and then. :P Assuming I get the i7 processor and 8G of memory (an option when I went to customize one of the X220's), does anyone know if it would handle high end games well?

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    Default Re: Which Slate/Tablet PC should I buy for engineering school?

    Things to do when configuring a computer: NEVER get it with more than the lowest amount of ram they offer it with (prices of ram from elsewhere [like Newegg] are always WAAAY cheaper, and besides you'd be able to upgrade to 16GB DDR3 for ~$160 and it will work great without issue; or just stick to 8GB for ~$40 or so for 2x 4GB); next, get the lowest end HDD and upgrade ityourself later (you can pick-up a Crucial M4 7mm SSD for good prices these days, they are fast reliable drives and last I checked you could get the 7mm 256GB drive for $300 on Newegg; only look at SSD's from Intel, Crucial, or Samsung; I guess you could go for a traditional HDD if you really wanted, but they are only just reaching the 500GB sizes in the 7mm height drives; the X220t does have the option to have a mPCI SSD in addition to a main drive, and you may want to consider that + a aftermarket SSD in the main bay to have plenty of solid state storage space); and buying the 'best' processor is not a very smart move because you get maybe 5-10% difference in synthetic benchmarks and in real use there would be essentially zero difference (get a low to mid i5 like the 2540M and you will be set, the 'i7' is a waste of money)

    For games the processor will not matter much at all, and the ram will matter almost not at all (as long as you have 'enough' for the system, around 4GB is the typical minimum these days), the GPU [Intel 3000] is where every game is going to be limited, and aside from doing a eGPU setup you are stuck with the Intel 3000 (a eGPU is not portable, and not that great, on top of being expensive)


    ... personally I wouldn't recommend the X220t because of the dumb 16:9 aspect ratio screen which really limits your usable real estate(vs the 16:10 aspect ratio of the other Tablet PC's), but to each their own I guess
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    Default Re: Which Slate/Tablet PC should I buy for engineering school?

    The HD 3000 igpu is not great running 3d games. You'll get really poor framerates and choppy performance in any modern games (except StarcraftII - or so I hear). I agree about the 16:10 display. I also agree about the I5-2540M. Matlab loves the last gen I5-540 arrandale in my Acer 3820TG, which I run oc'd a bit.

    If you really want some power though ... the 35 watt Ivy Bridge has made its appearance in HP's 14" Elitebook. It would be really interesting to have a 2760p with a quad I7 CPU and HD 4000 graphics.

    Does the 2760p have a PGA socket?
    Last edited by Bronsky; 04-16-2012 at 02:30 PM.
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    Default Re: Which Slate/Tablet PC should I buy for engineering school?

    "Real Use" -- in engineering real use will be full blast to render some of the stuff and run some of the processor intensive stuff they do without a GPU's assistance, small as 5-10% may be, it will be handy. Remember I'm also suggesting this for 4 years and the school work only gets harder each year and if they do research, etc. For normal stuff, I would certainly go with a i5.

    None of these units are gaming machines, unless the game is HTML5 based. Again, as I mentioned, most students don't go with a convertible but depending on philosophy, a decent laptop they can junk in two years or a more powerful laptop that's gaming capable that they can keep, such as T520's or W520 both of which are heavier to really heavy depending on options. Convertibles (IMHO) are only really good in school if you stick to and learn MS's OneNote (a great program).

    Just sign up for a continuous cloud backup service, make sure your Office is configured to backup your docs as you work every couple of minutes.

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    Default Re: Which Slate/Tablet PC should I buy for engineering school?

    The difference between a laptop and a tablet in a mathematics course is the difference between something that you use every day and something you use to check facebook. Besides onenote, having mip.exe is pretty fantastic too; with no training you can input equations about as quickly as someone who's really good at linear input can, and if you don't like mathML there's inlage to convert mip output to LaTeX.
    Last edited by Cads; 04-17-2012 at 09:09 AM.

 

 

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