Changing technology puts tablet computers in hands of students

August 23, 2011 4:37:03 AM PDT
If you were fast on your feet this weekend, you could have scored one sweet deal on a tablet computer. HP announced this weekend it was discontinuing its HP Touchpad tablet and cutting the price to just $99.

The price cut brought out the buyers. We checked several stores around Houston and could not find a single HP Touchpad. They are all sold out online as well.

These devices were only on store shelves for a couple of months -- now they are gone. If you did not grab one, there are still several others on the market and as your students head back to school there are a few things to consider before buying one.

There are all kinds of tablets on the market right now and students are eager to take them off to school.

Gary Kidney with Rice University said, "As I helped freshmen move in last Sunday at Rice, there were more people moving in with tablets and pads than there were with desktops or laptops, so that is a big change we are seeing."

Kidney is the Director of Academic and Research Computing at Rice. He says when it comes to tablets on campus, some features are a bigger deal than others.

"On a tablet or a pad, you don't really need the cell phone 4G or 3G capability. It is the wi-fi ability that is important," Kidney said.

Kidney also suggests getting a tablet with a screen size that is comfortable for a lot of reading and be sure to pick out a Bluetooth-enabled keyboard for typing.

But can the tablet replace the laptop or desktop?

Technology Bytes host Jay Lee explained, "In my experience, using a tablet computer does not replace the need for a laptop, unless your needs are just reading and browsing the web. But a lot of students are having to compose documents and so forth, and the tablets just are not there yet."

Lee says if students only want to download textbooks, a Kindle and a traditional laptop may be best.

He said, "Amazon has reduced the price of their Kindle significantly so that has come way down so if you are looking to save money and you know for sure that the only thing you need a tablet for is textbooks, then certainly the Kindle device would be a good supplement to have to a laptop rather than say an expensive iPad."

Textbooks that are available on tablets can also be downloaded to laptops, but the tablet devices are certainly easier to carry around.

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