Tablets vs NotebooksThe trend of late has been for educators to favor tablet devices over laptops and netbooks. For whatever reason, the number of one to one programs opting for iPads over Macbook Air or other laptops is increasing.

While I’m not ready to say that tablets are the best choice of device for a school’s one to one program, there are some clear benefits that tablets provide over laptops or netbooks. I’ve summarized them in the Slideshare presentation below, and you can keep reading for the wordy, text version.


Three Reasons to Choose Tablets For Your School’s One to One Initiatve from Brian Rock

Ultimately, I see three areas where tablets excel: convenience, suitability for reading, and touch screens.

Tablets Are More Convenient

We’re on the go, all the time. The awesome thing about a tablet is that it is extremely convenient. A 7″ tablet can fit in anyone’s purse or backpack, and it’s easy to get out.

Standing in line at the mall? Whip out your tablet. Looking for directions in the car? Fire up the tab. Sitting at the dentist’s office? Read something on your tablet.

You see the pattern. Laptops are big and bulky, even small netbooks. You need something to rest it on – either your lap or a desk. This requires you to set up a workspace. A tablet, on the other hand, can be held in one hand and manipulated with the other.

It is very awkward to try and hold a laptop in one hand while you type or do something with it. If you can do that, more power to you.

This convenience could lead to greater use. There is a lot of short downtime in our lives that we can whip out a phone or tablet to fill, but in which we wouldn’t naturally pull out a laptop. I regularly pull out my phone to check my RSS feeds or the newspaper while I’m walking around school; I never walk around with my laptop in my hands doing the same.

If you want to maximize the usage of your device and minimize downtime, then a tablet might be for you.

Tablets Are Better Suited for Reading

Tablets look like a page of a book. It’s natural, it’s comfortable. You want to hold a tablet and read on it. There’s a reason that eReaders (i.e. Kindle, Nook) are made in a portrait orientation like tablets and not in a landscape orientation like laptops.

You can also hold a tablet close to your face and still comfortably read it. This is great for lying on the couch or in a chair reading. In a lot of ways, it’s just like holding a book. People complained when eReaders first came out, but I find reading a book on my phone or tablet to be very comfortable and natural. I never liked reading eBooks on my laptop though; the only thing I read at great length on my laptop is the web.

If one of the main goals of your initiative is to replace textbooks, and if you have access to good eTexts that utilize mobile formats, then tablets are definitely for you. Given the right file format, they are so much more suited for reading than are laptops or netbooks.

Tablets Have Touchscreens. Cool!

I mean, really. Isn’t that cool?

You can sketch with your finger. You can draw a letter and literally write something. You can drag and drop in an intuitive way.

Laptops, keyboards, touchpads, and mice are great for people who are very tech savvy. I can type at an extraordinary rate, and a mouse is like second nature to me. But I’ve been using these things for 25 years.

A kid, especially a younger kid who is just learning to read, isn’t going to be so fluent with a computer. Mice are clunky, even for adept users, and keyboards aren’t great if you’re not a touch typer.

A touchscreen interface is simply more intuitive and more approachable. If you’re aiming at younger crowds, like elementary school, or if you plan on using apps that can take advantage of the touch screen interface, then tablets might just be the best choice.

What Do You Think?

This isn’t an exhaustive list. I’m sure there are other advantages that tablets have over netbooks. So leave a comment below, and let me know what you’re thinking.

And don’t worry if you’re a netbook or laptop fan. I’ll be posting about those tomorrow, and I definitely think that in some cases a laptop will be a better choice for a device.