Tablet or Notebook? Which do you choose?

I love reading on my tablets. I’ve a Kindle, an iPad, a Nexus 7 and a few smartphones. (Yes, I’m a gadget tragic.) When I manage to pry it out of my wife’s hands, I prefer our Nexus 7, but in a classroom I’d go with an iPad because of the wider range of educational apps. That’s if I had to choose a tablet, but I’d prefer to not to have to choose one. A tablet would be a handy second device if my school could afford it.

I’ve been wavering on this lately because I see children doing wonderful things with iPads in classrooms. I’ve come to realise that middle-aged teachers like me love their iPads. In some cases it’s the first time they’ve felt comfortable with technology. That’s a big thing, and it means that children are getting to use technology more often because their teachers are no longer afraid of it. For infants especially, the intuitiveness of touch screens makes for short learning curves. (Interestingly touch screens are rapidly appearing on Windows 8 notebooks, and they recently arrived on Google’s amazing new Chromebook Pixel.)

Despite the great things being done with iPads in schools, I find myself on the same page as Gary Stager in his piece ‘In Praise of Laptops’. (Thanks to @ricahrdolsen for sharing it on Twitter.) I feel restricted by Apple’s closed philosophy. I don’t like having to go to Safari and Apple Maps by default on my iPhone and iPad instead of my preferred Chrome and Google Maps. It’s restrictions like these that send me to my Nexus phone and tablet first. Relative to iOS, I prefer Android’s more flexible operating system and superior Google integration, but I’d still much prefer a notebook in a classroom.

Steve Jobs famously compared computers to trucks and tablets to cars. Like many people, I’m lucky enough to have both. I like to relax with my car, but when I’ve got work to do, I use my truck. I think students need trucks. What about you?

2 thoughts on “Tablet or Notebook? Which do you choose?

  1. Dear John,
    I think that laptops/notebooks are a dying breed even though I still see them as having a place in a classroom. In the past year tablets have improved so much. I don’t like Apple, I’m an Android fan and Android is just getting better and better.

  2. I think you’re right Alida, that notebooks are a dying breed, but I suspect tablets in their current form are too. I expect the two to morph into each other and become more powerful touchscreen devices with optional bluetooth keyboards as part of their carry case. With touch and voice input, the keyboard will be less important, but still useful. Tablets already have the form factor I’ve described, but they don’t yet match the power of a notebook. I’ll be interested to see what the new Microsoft Surface Pro is like. It might be the first tablet to equal notebook performance by running a fully-fledged desktop operating system on a modern touchscreen device.

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