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Best tablet for college (etextbook/note taking)?

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Initial post: Nov 19, 2012 6:09:46 PM PST
A. Seeling says:
Hello, this is my first post in amazon, and i come to you with a question that is stated above.

I want a tablet to use for etextbook reading (as well as normal ebook), and for taking notes. A minor thing would be it can entertain me when i want to waste time between classes.

my budget is capped at a microsoft surface(w/ keyboard) / vivo tab rt.

I was really looking into the rt models of tablets because of the microsoft office being including, but the rest of the info on them seems mediocre. Is there another tablet that can fill my needs of comparable office -esque abilities or is the surface/ vivo tab the right choice?

others may include the transformer series, nexus 10, galaxy 2 etc

thanks in advance

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012 9:04:16 PM PST
The Android tablets have a LOT more apps available. If Windows RT succeeds, and my guess is that it will, there'll also be a lot of apps for it down the road, and maybe not that far down the road. But that's a bit of a risk. There's no guarantee that it will succeed. Personally I'd like a Windows 8 tablet and I expect to buy one and I'd rather have an RT tablet once some of my favorite programs are available for it. So I'm waiting to see.

Other than that either one will do what you want. If you decide on an Android tablet I'd look closely at the Transformers. That keyboard dock makes it pretty ideal for school. Of course that's available on some of the Windows tablets as well.


Posted on Dec 25, 2012 8:24:05 PM PST
Arxos says:
If you want to do handwritten notes, then DO NOT get an RT or Android tablet. Windows 8 RT does not support active digitizer input (Wacom pens), and will only work with horribly inaccurate capacitive pens (same ones that work on iPads and Android tablets. I would highly recommend getting something like a Lenovo Thinkpad 2 tablet with Windows 8 Pro/Active Digitizer pen. It the model you'd want is $700. Other options are the Samsung Ativ 700T, and the Microsoft Surface Pro. Those cost more, but I would definitely consider the Surface Pro (starts at $900, but much, much more powerful).

Posted on Dec 26, 2012 12:38:16 PM PST
Noppadon says:
I am on the same boat. I just checked out Frank's link: the thinkpad tablet 2, and it seems like an interesting choice. Its price is a bit steep though. Nexus and Galaxy tab are cheaper. Many ebooks are in pdf, and you can use some apps and get a stylus to annotate pdfs for classes.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2012 4:21:28 PM PST
Windows tablets are always going to be more expensive than Android tablets, unless they run Windows RT. Full Windows tablets are faster and more powerful and can run any Windows programs. Of course they're also heavier and get poorer battery life.


Posted on Dec 26, 2012 9:37:37 PM PST
I have been doing some personal research and figured that a tablet over a laptop could help me be more mobile and productive on those 10-12 hour long days (and some nights) on campus. Quick note taking and organizing folders for classes and calendars and all that all on one tablet were my main goals for reducing my backpack weight. Long story short: i went with the Galaxy Note 10.1 because of these reasons: 1. the wacom active-digitizer pen is responsive and precise like a real pen, unlike the other capacitive styluses. 2. the SNote application is very nice and with its widget, is very clean and easy to create class notebooks. 3. it has true multitasking, but its limited to just a few handy functions so far. Beyond that is had a quad core processor and a long battery life. Again the thing that sold me is the usefulness of that accurate stylus.

Posted on Dec 29, 2012 8:20:02 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 29, 2012 8:24:07 AM PST
A. Davis says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 31, 2012 12:08:27 PM PST
So far, have you been pleased with the Galaxy Note 10? How goes the note taking? I am concerned about my hand resting on the tablet while I'm taking notes. Is this a problem?

Posted on Dec 31, 2012 4:58:17 PM PST
I am looking for something similar and have similar questions. I am looking at the tab2 7.0 ( I like the smaller size), but am needing a responsive stylis capability so that I can do digital drawings for a vinyl cutter at work. I have a hard time with laptops for a "lazy hand" with the silly mouse location. Do NOT want this issue with a tablet too. Have done research with the Tab2 and the Google - am leaning towards the Tab2 - any info/suggestions welcomed!

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 31, 2012 6:49:21 PM PST
I have a 7" Tab 2 and I like it a lot. But there's no stylus. It works okay with a capacitive stylus but I'm not sure that's what you want. They're only a slight improvement over using a fingertip.


Posted on Jan 1, 2013 10:31:19 AM PST
cheri says:
I love my galaxy note 10.1, i tied ipad 4 and returned it. So glad k went with the note 10.1 pen works great writes exactly like me.

Posted on Jan 20, 2013 5:51:05 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 20, 2013 5:52:13 AM PST
V. Le says:
As of Jan 2013, the only tablet capable of running the latest version of Adobe Flash is the BlackBerry Playbook because they have their own team that updates the tablet each time a new version of flash is available.

What this means for a student (since Google has announced that they will no longer support Flash on the Android platform and Apple never has/never will) is that this is the ONLY tablet that will be able to display eBook content from the browser correctly. It also means that the Playbook is the ONLY one that you can use for Flash homework sites like McGraw-Hill Connect, Pearson Mastering Chemistry, Mastering Biology, Mastering Anatomy, MyMathLab...etc. Which are ALL Adobe Flash based and required by almost all professors of sciences and some math profs.

Best of all, the playbook is selling for... $130 New! (search Google and see) it's even cheaper on eBay.

Here's a good article to read :

Posted on Jan 21, 2013 3:01:27 PM PST
Lalalal says:
I am a business grad student and I am looking for a tablet or convertible pc mainly for note taking in class and some Office works. I am unsure of the following(listed below). I hope someone here can help me understand and decide the best option for my needs. My price range is below $1000.
I have looked through Samsung ATIV 500, Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, Lenovo X convertible and Lenovo Tablet. So, things I am not sure about:
1) Android or Windows 8 or Windows RT? I want the one that can edit/create office documents and view PDFs
2) Tablet or convertible PC? I have a macpro and an Ipad, so I am not sure if I should go with Tablet or PC
3) Wait or buy? I saw some coming soon products such as the Surface Pro, Lenovo Helix and Samsung ATIV tablet.. Do you think I should wait or buy now or it doesn't make any difference?

Thank you so much,


In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2013 3:27:30 PM PST
Most any of the devices you've mentioned will do what you want to do. The issue is probably just which do you prefer.

If you already have a laptop and an Ipad you can use them to decide which you prefer. Either one should be fine for school.

If you really want to get something else I'd look over the various options and make a choice.

Your question seems to be more about "what do I want?" than about the capabilities of the various devices. You can get help here about the devices but you have to be the one to decide what you want.


Posted on Jan 21, 2013 5:38:12 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 21, 2013 6:24:21 PM PST
V. Le says:
In response to Lily:

Wow, I wish I had your budget. If I had $1000, to spend and your requirements, I would wait for the Microsoft Surface Pro ($899) or buy the Lenovo Thinkpad tablet 2 ($649).

They both run the full version of Windows 8 which means you can run any software packages that you can on a desktop, including the full version of Office (with OneNote), Adobe Acrobat (for PDFs), photoshop... etc.

The main reason I would choose these is because of the active digitizer pens. As you know, taking notes on a tablet with your fingers is nearly impossible since touch-typing is too slow. On a laptop keyboard, it's fast... but you already have a laptop...

With the pen, you can use it to take quick notes. Search on youTube for videos about Microsoft OneNote and Surface Pro. You'll see how powerful this combo is. (don't forget: Active digitizer pens are different from capacitative pens. Active pen = good. Capacitative pens (stylus) = not accurate = not good)

The Lenovo is hundreds cheaper and its battery will last longer, but it is not as fast as the Surface Pro. The Galaxy Note has an active pen, but it does not run on Windows 8.

I hope to one day purchase the Surface Pro for school. Actually, Amazon sometimes offers 6-month or 12-month no-interest financing so I might buy it from Amazon once it's available in a few weeks.

Let us know what you decide on.

Posted on Jan 21, 2013 9:01:20 PM PST
MissMayhemm says:
Check out the Galaxy Note. You can operate is split screen - on one half you can view your textbook and on the other half you can be taking notes at the same time. It's a slick setup.

Posted on Jan 29, 2013 11:09:40 PM PST
rrajesva says:
Hi, I purchased a HP Slate 500 over a year ago and sold it last Christmas to upgrade to a 10 inch 4th gen iPad. I have also owned a Polaroid tablet running Android 4.0 before. I would like to give some advice to people looking towards buying a Windows based tablet and state my reasons for chosing to go with an iPad instead. Before I begin, let me first state that I'm a college student and my main considerations in buying any tablets include reading books, taking notes, portability.

1) Reading PDFs: At the moment, I think that the iPad is the best tablet to read pdfs and it has a huge lead over other tablets in this aspect. Most of my ebooks are in pdf format as I usually scan some pages out of my course textbooks into pdf files and then read them on a computer. I tried doing this on my HP Slate 500 but it did not have very fluid zoom functionality like iBooks does. You will probably have to read pdfs in some sort of pdf reader like Adobe on a Windows based device which is not very tablet friendly as it was primarily designed for computers. Reading a pdf that has two pages of a book on one page is very difficult to do on a Windows based tablet as you will find that you cannot zoom in very easily. Even turning to the next page is not as fluid as that of an iPad.

2) Keyboard: One of the most annoying thing that you will notice in a Windows based tablet is that he keyboard does not pop-up automatically. If you are used to any iOS device, you will feel severely let down by this as it is something that you would pretty much expect every tablet to come with this feature. When you want to type on a Windows based tablet, the onscreen keyboard does not always pop-up automatically even when you select a field that requires text input. This will require you to bring up the keyboard your self which isn't always so easy to do since you often have to touch a tiny icon or press a small button. Furthermore, when the keyboard is up, it is not always sized appropriately and you will have to resize it yourself. Often, I also find that the keyboard on a Windows based tablet takes up a lot of screen real estate, which makes you note be able to see everything you type. This is probably due to the fact that most Windows based tablets are taller but narrower.

3) Pen input: I have been trying to find a tablet that allows me to take notes like I normally do on ruled notepad paper for over 3 semesters in college now. However, I would go as far as to say that there is no standalone tablet that can do this in the market at the moment. You see, most tablets are often not very large in size and are often have displays less than 11 inches. This does not give you the same writing experience as using a regular piece of paper as the display sizes are in reality much smaller than 11 inches. Take the iPad for instance, although its display is 9.7 inches, how much of that do you actually get to use? You would probably just get about 8 inches since you cannot write on the border of the iPad. So writing on any tablet would not be ideal or even close to the experience of using paper. If you really want to take notes you should try to get a latop/tablet convertible that has a 13 inch display or something close to it. I can suggest things like the Lenovo Think Pad Helix or Lenovo Lynx but they are not without their own flaws.

I hope this helps

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 30, 2013 7:31:25 AM PST
I think the difficulty zooming PDF's must be a problem with the particular tablet you used. I have the Acer W510 and I just put a couple of PDF files on it and tried it and it's easier to read, zoom and move around than on my Ipad. I'm using the stock Adobe reader.

This is good to find out since I just got this tablet. It might become my go to device for PDF files now.

I do agree about the problem of the keyboard not popping up when you need it. It's usually (but not always) trivial to make the keyboard appear but I don't have to do that on either Android or IOS. I'm hopeful this is a problem Microsoft will fix.

I got this with the keyboard dock and I'm finding that I use it with the dock more than as a tablet. With my Asus Transformer I rarely use the keyboard dock.


Posted on Feb 2, 2013 4:19:28 AM PST
I Am Me says:
Just to add my two cents...

First, no offense to this person but, disregard rrajesva's comments about Windows tablets. 1) The HP500 is a piece of under powered consumer grade junk running a very old atom which is why it performed sluggishly. Basically it's a cheap netbook version of a windows tablet and not representative of current hardware. The newer Z2XXX atoms (although still "netbooks" of the tablet PC world) are much more capable and you will get smooth zooming performance in pdfs. 2) In windows 7, by default all you do is swipe the keyboard in from the edge. Simple. There's no tiny button you have to push (although one exists). In win 8 the keyboard automatically comes up if you don't have a physical keyboard connected. 3) You can't compare writing on an iPad with finger or capacative stylus (aka. finger extension) to a pen digitizer. When I let people use my convertibles they're shocked at how it's just like writing with paper, and then they become jealous, especially iPad users because they THOUGHT they were being productive (playing angry birds and facebooking).

My tips on selecting a tablet for school/work.

1. Always buy business/enterprise grade hardware. Dell -> Latitude or Precision; Lenovo -> ThinkPad; Asus -> BXXX or PXXX; HP... err.. don't buy an HP, even their enterprise solutions are junk. You normally have to get enterprise hardware online since retailers normally only stock consumer products.

2. Get a SSD hard drive. You don't need a large one, just large enough for the OS and core productivity software. Then just get a small inexpensive external USB 3.0 hard drive for music, movies, games, etc if you want.

3. If you are primarily interested in productivity, then you will want a full Windows 7/8 tablet or convertible tablet with pen digitizer. Nothing beats the combo of a pen digitizer and OneNote syncing over SkyDrive. I recommend no less than a 12" screen. The problem with the Android Note tablets is that there is no efficient/easy way to transfer, convert, or print the notes. At best most android (or iOS) note apps have a rudimentary save to pdf or save to image. And of course you can't compare those mobile OS office apps to full blown MS Office.

4. For the inexpensive atom based tablets with pen digitizer, I would recommend the new Latitude 10. It has a swappable battery and is getting rave reviews from both consumers and media. Plus it's a little cheaper than the Thinkpad Tablet 2. If price is no object then I would recommend getting the ThinkPad Helix when it's released sometime this month. Lenovo (and Fujitsu) have been doing enterprise tablet PCs for more than a decade so they're going to be done properly (yes folks, tablets existed way before Apple introduced that consumer toy iPad, they were just super expensive and advertised for enterprise use)

5. I tried using an Android tablet in the same manner. Even with the almighty Evernote, it's just not good. Evernote can't come close to OneNote.

As a side note, I use a convertible tablet for taking notes and doing homework on my Dell XT3 (upgraded to Win8 Pro). Since I turn in homework electronically I don't use paper for class anymore. You can save directly to PDF using OneNote, share you notebook directly via SkyDrive (cloud) or Sharepoint (secure network enterprise method), or email it. The key to use it as a paper replacement is to fix the OneNote page size to letter so if you need to print or send as pdf it will be as if you wrote on normal paper with ink. I also use a convertible tablet for work (Fujitsu T902) and sync OneNote notebooks using MS Sharepoint to all my PCs (and soon Windows Phone 8). The Fujitsu T902 and Dell XT3 are the only two 13" convertibles currently available which is why I chose them. You can get a refurbished XT3 direct from Dell for <$1000, some even as low as $600 depending on what you get in it.

Posted on Feb 4, 2013 5:18:38 PM PST
Lalalal says:
Thank you guys !!!!!! All your responses were extremely helpful!!!!! I think I am going to go with the Lenovo helix for its business grade hardware and its convertible setups.


In reply to an earlier post on Feb 7, 2013 6:45:12 AM PST
ASUS Google Nexus 7

Posted on Feb 14, 2013 8:03:56 AM PST
Ummm....I dont know what that first responder is talking about . Samsung galaxy note 10.1 is an android tablet using wacom tech . It's perfect for note taking . just get the lecture notes app and you're set.

Posted on Feb 15, 2013 2:48:08 PM PST
I am an old man who loves to read things I cannot understand. *(Heidegger, Gadamer,Bloom).I like to make sure I get some meaning. I am tired of walking from the living room to the bedroom where my computer. I want a light tablet with excellent connectivity on WI-Fi. Price is an object but not insurmountable. Recommendations?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 15, 2013 8:21:37 PM PST
I'm another old man (72) and I tend to read things I do understand. :)

I can read for a while on an LCD screen but my eyes start watering in about 15 minutes and after 20 or so minutes I have to stop. This isn't a problem when I'm using a computer. I'm a retired programmer and I've spent most of my life staring into LCD or CRT screens and I still do a lot of that. But with reading the staring is more constant and the eyestrain gets to me.

I've found that the solution, at least for me, is to use a Kindle with an e-ink screen. I have a Kindle Paperwhite and it seems to me the perfect way to read.

I also have a Kindle Fire HD and a couple of other tablets. I have a lot of fun with them but they just don't work for me for extended reading sessions. They're good for watching videos and playing games and browsing the web.

Not everyone has the problem I do with LCD screen reading. Some people do a lot of it with ease, so this might not turn out to be a problem for you, but it is something you might want to consider.

If you decide to get an e-ink reader I can wholeheartedly recommend the Kindle Paperwhite. I haven't seen the Nook with Glowlight or the Kobo Glo but from the video reviews of them I've seen I suspect they might be as good for reading. However, the Kindle has Amazon behind it with their large selection and great customer service and that can be important.

If you decide to go with an LCD ereader the Kindle Fire or Kindle Fire HD are good choices. Also any 7" tablet with a good screen is worth looking at. The Nexus 7 or the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7" are both likely candidates. 10" tablets are a bit heavy and in my opinion a bit large for reading and holding up while you read, but they are probably worth considering as well. They also cost more.

I have a Fire HD and the Samsung I mentioned and both have excellent screens. The Fire HD has the better screen with higher pixel density but both are so good you won't mind either of them.


Posted on Feb 21, 2013 5:25:13 AM PST
E. Coelho says:
Surface Pro because it has a pressure sensitive pen and the full version of Windows. You will be good for at least 4 years.
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Discussion in:  Tablet forum
Participants:  40
Total posts:  62
Initial post:  Nov 19, 2012
Latest post:  Feb 10, 2014

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