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Back to School: the best tablet for every student

Back to School: the best tablet for every student


Before the school year starts, make sure the tablet in your bag is the right one for you.

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Yes, you probably need a laptop more than you need a tablet for school this year. But a tablet can also be an indispensable tool whether you're reading for class, writing papers, drawing when inspiration strikes, or (because this really is required for school sometimes) watching Netflix. Tablets are a great, easily-accessed hub for your reading, your schedule, your notes, and your to-do list; they're also a great way to force yourself to focus on a single task when you've got real work to do.

Most tablets may look the same, but they're not all good at the same things. So here's the best one for each of a variety of school-related tasks, or for when you just don't feel like dealing with school anymore.

One quick note before we get going: buying a full-Android tablet or an iPad is much smarter for a student than buying a single-ecosystem device like a Nook Tablet or a Kindle Fire. There are Android apps for both Nook and Kindle, plus dozens of other ways to track down your reading material and get it onto your tablet. Whether you're reading texbooks, novels, articles, or studies, more options and sources is just a good idea — plus you'll get full access to their respective app stores.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1


For drawing

Sure, there are plenty of issues with the Galaxy Note 10.1, but if you need a tablet for drawing, doodling, scribbling, or just hand-writing notes, you can't beat Samsung's latest tablet. Thanks to integrated Wacom technology, the Note's S Pen has 1,024 levels of sensitivity, so it can tell the difference between a slight press and a hard press or even between a slight press and a slightly-less-slight press. Whether you're sketching blueprints or making charts, there's no better way to do it.

The Note's multitasking is also really useful, actually letting you use two apps side-by-side. The feature's a bit limited and has some performance issues, but the ability to have a browser window and your notes side by side is pretty key for any student.

Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700


For work — and play

Maybe you don't want a tablet for schoolwork — you just want something you can lie in bed with after a long day. For that, you'll want the Transformer Pad Infinity's gorgeous 10.1-inch, 1080p display. The Infinity is great for watching TV and movies, and thanks to its fast Tegra 3 processor is also a solid gaming machine.

If you do decide to do some schoolwork, the Infinity's also a pretty great productivity machine. It has an optional keyboard dock — it'll run you about another $150 — and when you attach the two pieces you've basically got yourself an ultra-light netbook with all-day battery life and an awesome 1080p display. It's a great, focused writing machine for when you have a big paper due tomorrow or just need to take notes in class without tap-tap-tapping on the on-screen keyboard.

Nexus 7


For reading

Google's first tablet got nearly everything right: it's well-built, powerful, and best of all it starts at just $199. Any 7-inch tablet is better for reading things than watching them, though the Nexus 7's 1280 x 800 screen does that job better than you might think. Since it runs Google's latest OS, Android 4.1, it's also the fastest and smoothest Android tablet we've seen yet, and it ships with Jelly Bean-exclusive features like Google Now. If you're in the market for an Android tablet, and don't want the extra screen real estate (or the extra expense) of a 10-inch tablet, there's really no reason not to buy the Nexus 7.

Apple iPad


For everything

It's all about the apps. The iPad has tens of thousands of device-specific apps that let you do anything and everything you can think of; the tablet selection on iOS continues to simply wipe the floor with Android. From productivity tools to reading apps to games, there's basically nothing you can't find a way to do on an iPad. Apple's plan to revolutionize textbooks may not have caught on just yet, but it's still a remarkable device for students.

That's all not to mention the device's incredible Retina display, or its thin body and long-lasting battery. The iPad's not quite as pocket-friendly as the Nexus 7, but it'll certainly slide unnoticed into your backpack. Unless the price is too steep (and it might be), there's really no reason to recommend against the iPad for a student — or anyone, for that matter.

Compare all our tablet picks in The Verge Database!