Laptop vs Tablet: Which One Is Better For Students?

In classrooms throughout the nation, the pencil and paper are rapidly becoming archaic tools of the past, giving way to the electronic device. While many educators agree that the computer has an important place in education, a great debate has begun regarding which form it should take–the laptop or the tablet.

Laptop vs.  Tablet for students

While the laptop remains the favored contender, the tablet has accumulated a legion of loyal fans. Here are some of the strengths and weakness associated with each choice.

The Laptop

The laptop has proven its usefulness in schools throughout the United States and beyond thanks to a multitude of positive attributes.

  • Sheer Power. Simply put, the laptop is a much more capable taskmaster. With more powerful processors and a superior ability to multi-task, laptops can accomplish a broader range of duties than their smaller tablet counterparts.
  • Storage. As far as storage capabilities go, the laptop is a spacious walk-in closet while the tablet is one shelf in a kitchen cupboard. In fact, some laptops now measure their storage space in terabytes–making even the roomy 128GB Surface Pro tablet hide in embarrassment.
  • Built-in Keyboards. Have you ever tried to type a large block of text on a touch screen? If so, you were likely tempted to bash your head on the nearest wall. Nothing beats a built-in, traditional keyboard like the ones found on laptops. While some tablets now come with an attachable keyboard, they tend to be very pricey.
  • Special Offers. It seems like there is always a flyer boasting astounding laptop deals with massive savings. Furthermore, you can often find student-priced software at dramatically slashed rates that are not available for tablets.
  • Add-ons. Laptops enable a vast array of extras including optical drives for CDs and DVDs, SD card slots, and multiple USB ports. While some tablets, like the Microsoft Surface, offer a micro SD card slot, the laptop still reigns supreme in the breadth of add-ons accommodated.
  • Larger screens. If a program you are running or a task you are tackling requires a high resolution picture, you will benefit from the large screen and superior graphics capability of a laptop. There are, after all, many laptops that possess 17-inch screens or larger. Even a notebook like the 11.6 inch Acer C720 Chromebook boasts a larger viewing area than the largest tablets at 10 inches.
  • While there are loads of new apps introduced to the marketplace every day, the fact remains that many programs are only available for computers–including many of the tools used in the classroom.


A relative newcomer compared to the laptop, the tablet does have several characteristics that make it an attractive option.

  • Portability. The extremely lightweight and easy-to-transport tablet can go wherever you go with ease. The comparatively bulky laptop is heavy and awkward to transport. And forget about using your laptop as an e-reader.
  • Battery life. Tablets have small appetites, giving them a much longer battery life than their laptop counterparts. You will no longer have to scour the school cafeteria for the table by the outlet. The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX, for instance, boasts a battery life of 13 hours and 42 minutes between charges.
  • Note-taking abilities. If your typing skills are less than…um…awe-inspiring, you may benefit from the tablet’s ability to let you take handwritten notes with a stylus. And forget having to scramble to make hand-drawn facsimiles of diagrams. With the tablet you can take a picture and add it to your notes. One great note-taking app is Notability for the iPad.
  • Intuitive touch screens. Many people find the swiping motion used on a touch screen much more natural and user-friendly than using a keyboard and mouse. The touch screen is also more conducive to drawing.

As you can see, both the laptop and the tablet boast unique benefits. While the laptop continues to rule the educational roost, many school boards have adopted the tablet. Weigh the pros and cons of each and choose the option that suits you best. And enjoy your new device!

Which device do you think is better for students?

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I am a freelance writer, avid blogger, illustrator, and aspiring novelist who thinks the world is a terribly funny place filled with bizarre things to observe--and, of course, comment on. You can follow her somewhat neurotic and OCD ramblings at The Embiggens Project and at Searching for Barry Weiss.

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