Although PDAs and tablet computers have been around for more than 20 years, it was only following Apple’s debut of the iPad in 2010 that tablets truly came into their own. Today, tablets are one of the most popular forms of mobile computers.
Larger than mobile phones designed to be carried in a pocket or purse, tablet computers often have more powerful processors, better graphics, and dedicates operating systems ideal for students and other people who need a powerful mobile computing device. Today, tablets are vital educational tools, used to display digital versions of textbooks as well as run other software such as online collaborative tools, videos, and supplementary reading material.
Buyer’s Guide for The Best Tablets for College Students
With so many tablets on the market today, it can be difficult to find a tablet that’s right for college life. Before shopping for a tablet ideal for college students, be sure to consider all of the following:
Ruggedness – College life can be four (or more) years of changing dorm rooms/apartments, carrying tablets to/from class in often overstuffed backpacks, and other situations where it is essential that the tablet be resistant to dust, shocks, cracks, and being dropped. Although it is unlikely that you’ll need military grade ruggedness in a tablet for college students, it is essential that you choose a durable model.
Operating System – Today’s tablets primarily use one of four different operating systems: Apple’s iOS, Microsoft Windows, Amazon, and Google’s Android. All three of these systems have pros and cons, but what matters most to college students is that their tablet can run all of the apps required for their coursework.
Keyboard/Input – Regardless of operating system, tablets either employ a virtual keyboard for input or else can be paired with a physical keyboard. And some of today’s newer models of tablets have the option of being used with a stylus or pen to draw directly on the screen.
Some college majors require more writing than others, so carefully consider how much time will be spent on typing. Other majors like graphic design or art may require the use of a stylus/digital pen for input. If you’re not sure about your input needs, remember that all modern tablets can be paired with separately sold physical keyboards and styluses/digital pens.
Wow Factor – If you’re purchasing a tablet for a college student as a gift, you may initially overlook how the device looks in favor of its operating system, specs, and accessories. But it is important to remember that tablets are now also considered to be fashion items, so spend a few extra moments to ensure that you pick a model that has the right cachet of cool.
Screen Size – Today’s modern tablets range from small 7-inch screens not much larger than some mobile phones to monster tablets with screens measuring 10 inches or larger. Bigger screens are essential for videos (such as university lectures) but may be more frequently used to watch movies than do homework, so always carefully consider just how much screen “real estate” the college student really needs.
Specifications – The numbers can sometimes be confusing, but it’s worth doing your homework when researching the right tablet for your needs. Be sure to consider the type of chip that powers the tablet, screen resolution, storage, RAM, camera resolution, and ports to ensure that the tablet can easily do everything that you will need it to do.
Best Tablet For Students Comparison Guide
Our Review of The Best Tablets for College Students
After sorting through hundreds of different makes and models, we have carefully narrowed down the field to create our list of the best tablets for college students on the market today.
Toshiba Satellite Click 10 LX0W-C64 – An Awesome 2 in 1 Touchscreen Laptop ideal for students
A truly mobile full-powered computer, the Satellite Click 10 LX0W-C64 is probably closer to a laptop than it is a tablet. It runs on Windows 10 operating system and comes with a large 10.1-inch touchscreen tablet. Best of all, the Satellite Click 10 can be detached from the included physical keyboard, making it super easy to switch between laptop and tablet modes. This is a very handy feature for students as sometimes you may require the power of a laptop when it comes to essay writing and producing detailed digital course work. The Toshiba Satellite Click 10 LX0W-C64 comes with 64 GB of solid state memory and runs on an Intel Atom Z8300 1.6 GHz processor using 2 GB of DDR3 RAM.
Pros & Cons of the Toshiba Satellite Click 10 LX0W-C64
- Runs on Windows 10.
- Detachable 10.1-inch touchscreen
- Works perfectly as a laptop or tablet
- Only comes with 64 GB of storage
Apple iPad Mini 2 with Retina Display – Comes with a 7.9 inch touchscreen and 16 GB of storage
One of the best-selling tablets on the market, the iPad Mini 2 comes in a variety of different choices, including both Wi-Fi and cell phone connectivity options. The Apple iPad Mini 2 uses the latest-generation Retina Display for ultra-sharp rendering and graphics while running the latest version of Apple’s operating system. Weighing just 0.73 pounds and easy to grip with just one hand, there’s no doubt as to why the Apple iPad Mini 2 is such a popular choice for college students.
Pros & Cons of the Apple iPad Mini 2
- Very stylish and chic
- 10-hour battery life
- Ultra crisp Retina 2048 x 1536 pixel display
- Base model only comes with 16 GB of storage
Lenovo Yoga Book- FHD 10.1″ Android Tablet – Impressive 2 in 1 Tablet that makes it the perfect choice for art students.
One of the most versatile tablets to make our list, the Lenovo Yoga Book comes with a stylus and input area that functions much like a physical keyboard. With a large 10-inch display and two powerful built-in speakers, the Lenovo Yoga Book is perfect for watching educational videos. The Lenovo Yoga Book is powered by 4 GB of RAM and can last up to 15 hours on a single charge. The Lenovo Yoga Book comes in two models, giving you the option of choosing Android or the Windows operating system. Perhaps best of all, the Lenovo Yoga Book comes with a 360-degree rotating hinge that allows you to put the tablet in the right mode for your needs.
Check out our guide on the best drawing tablets if you’re looking for a tablet more suited to creating digital art.
Pros & Cons of the Lenovo Yoga Book- FHD 10.1″
- Weighs less than 2 pounds
- Special hinge with four display modes
- Two built-in cameras
- No full-size USB ports
Fire HD 10 Tablet -Comes with Alexa and a 10.1″ HD Display – An Ideal Tablet for students that want to use it to do more than just study.
Simultaneously the biggest and yet also the thinnest tablet ever designed by Amazon, the Fire HD 10 has a large 10.1-inch display with an all-metal housing to ensure greater ruggedness. Useful for far more than just shopping online, the Fire HD 10 has a 1.5 GHz quad-core processor and comes with two cameras. Fantastic for consuming media including watching movies, listening to streaming music, and reading books (via Amazon’s Kindle service), the Fire HD 10 has integrated on-device tech support for quickly resolving any unforeseen issues.
Comes with Alexa built-in
Rugged metal housing in three different color choices
Built-in stereo speakers and microphone
App store more limited than Google Play, Apple, and Windows stores
Asus Zenpad S 8 Z580C-B1-BK – An 8 inches tablet that comes with 32GB of storage
A solid entry level budget tablet, the Asus Zenpad comes in either solid black or solid white. Running the verstaile Android operating system, the Asus Zenpad is powered by a quad-core 1.3 GHz processor with 2 GB of RAM. The Asus Zenpad comes with two built-in cameras and one microSD Card slot for enhanced connectivity. The Asus Zenpad comes with the propriterary TruVivid blue light filter to reduce eye strain at night and has a generous 8-inch 2K 2048 x 1536 pixel IPS display.
Sleek black/white design
Runs all Android apps
8-inch display with 178-degree viewing angles and blue light filter
Battery needs frequent recharging with heavy use
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5-Inch Tablet – Comes in 16 GB version with Titanium Bronze color.
From one of the leading manufacturers of mobile devices, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S is powered by the Android operating system and a generous 3 GB RAM. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S has a large 10.5-inch display with a crisp 2560 x 1600 WQXGA resolution. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S has a number of built-in features, including a fingerprint scanner, 2.1 MP front camera, 8 MP rear camera, and microSD slot for adding up to 128 GB of extra memory (microSD card not included.
Giant 10.5-inch screen
Multi Window feature allows you to have two apps open side-by-side
Rugged all-metal housing
Tablet is generally too heavy for one-hand use
ASUS Transformer Book T100HA-C4-GR – One of the best 10.1-Inch 2 in 1 Touchscreen Laptop / Tablets for Students
Another strong entry in the budget mobile computing space, the Asus Transformer Book comes with a large 10-inch touchscreen tablet that can be detached from the included physical keyboard. Available in sleek gray or colorful pink, the Asus is ultra thin at just 0.72 inches. It runs Windows 10 op system (already installed) and has 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. This model has both a USB Type-C port and standard USB 2.0 port (on the keyboard section) for added connectivity and is powered by a 1.44 GHz quad-core Intel chip.
Battery lasts up to 12 hours and can be fast-charged in just 2 hours
Works as both a tablet and a laptop
4GB of RAM ideal for multi-tasking
Weighs 2.28 pounds (tablet + keyboard)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 – 128 GB of Storage and 4 GB RAM – Powerful Intel Core i5 Processor
A challenger to Apple’s popular iPad line, the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is one of the most powerful mobile computing devices on the market today. The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 runs on an Intel Core i5 sixth generation chip and comes with at least 4 GB of RAM (other models have up to 16 GB of RAM) along with at least 4 GB of storage (other models have up to 1 TB). The big 12.3-inch screen gives you plenty of viewing real estate while the built-in PixelSense technology automatically adjusts to reduce eye strain.
Aesthetically beautiful design
Complete versatility between touchscreen tablet and laptop use
Powerful battery lasts up to 9 hours on a single charge
Physical keyboard (which doubles as a case) and stylus are sold separately
Google Nexus 9 Tablet – Comes in 8.9-Inch screen with 32GB Storage – WiFi
With one of the most recognizable names in the mobile space, the Google Nexus 9 comes in either matte black or cool white design. The Google Nexus 9 has a powerful NVIDIA Tegra 2.3 GHz processor, 32 GB of flash memory, and 2 GB of RAM. The Google Nexus 9 comes with two built-in cameras and runs on the popular Android operating system.
Big 8.9-inch display
Built-in 1.6 MP front camera and 8 MP rear camera
Micro USB 2.0 port for added connectivity
Cannot be used as a phone
Sony Xperia Z SGP311U1/B – This 10.1-Inch 16GB Tablet Does Not Disappoint!
Shipped with the Android operating system pre-installed, the Sony Xperia Z is a solid all-around tablet. The Sony Xperia Z is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 1.5 GHz chip and comes with 16 GB of flash memory (other models have up to 32 GB) and 2 GB of RAM. The rugged battery is designed to last up to nine hours on a single charge and has a large 10.1-inch screen.
Powerful enough to easily multi-task
Has both Micro SD and Micro USB ports for enhanced connectivity
Comes with SONY brand apps pre-installed