Aug 02, 2013

Would a tablet or laptop be a better choice for a college freshman?

My son is starting college in about a month, and wants an iPad to use “for school.” I think a laptop would make more sense, but maybe I’m just basing that on my own college experience from the 90s. Don’t get me wrong, I love iPads, and use mine all the time, but I also have a desktop and laptop. Can an iPad really do the things needed in college... research, sure, but writing papers and putting together presentations...I’m not convinced.

Both if you can afford it. The iPad is lighter and easier to carry around, but it lacks a keyboard, and doesn't run desktop apps. If you can only afford one, go with the laptop. Make sure it's a lightweight laptop though for easy carrying.

I’d say the laptop would be better, mainly because of the keyboard and screen size. A significant part of college is writing papers, and while you certainly can do that on a tablet, it isn’t the ideal tool. You can add an accessory keyboard, and if you son really, really wants to go the iPad route I would consider that a mandatory purchase. It’s also a lot more pleasant doing work on a larger screen, which is why you don’t see a lot of 10” displays when you go into an office. 

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