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Looking for the best tablet (or other device) for high school (and my needs)

Last response: in Tablets
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September 10, 2013 2:35:09 PM

I'm a junior in high school and am in need of a new device for productivity, among other things. Crucially, it needs to be in the $200-300 range.

Originally I was going to go for a Chromebook, but now I'm not so sure. I wanted to explore the other possibilities.

At school, I'll be using it mainly to type up assignments, take notes, and use various web apps. Thus, it needs to at least have support for a keyboard with physical keys (none of that flat keyboard nonsense), if such is not already part of the device. It also needs to play nicely with HTML5 and Flash, and good support for java applets is a plus.

At home, I'll be doing the same thing, as well as occasionally playing games (something I TOTALLY won't be doing at school), and just using it in general as a mobile device.

Since the Wifi at school is spotty at best, it still needs to be useful offline.

Our school is heavily integrated with Google Docs, so Microsoft Office support is not necessary.

Obviously I want a good app ecosystem to bring out the full functionality of the device

In one of my classes we are creating Android apps, and while we are allowed to borrow old Nexus 7's (the Tegra 3 variant), I would like my own device, so it being an Android device would be a plus.

Finally, I am a desktop enthusiast, and I want a device that meets that personality to some degree. I want it to be customizable, and obviously not a wimp when it comes to raw power.

Through it all, it should have enough battery life to last me through one day of school (8:40 to 3:20) on a single charge, even with constant use.

I hope all this info helps, and isn't too overwhelming, and thank you for reading, if you have. I put this under the Tablets section because I figured that would be the device most likely to accommodate all these needs in the price range. If you know of anything else, though, feel free to mention it.

So far I have my eye on the Nexus 7. The Snapdragon S4 Po looks a powerful SOC, and it seems like it would meet just about all these needs.
a b Ë Android
September 11, 2013 12:42:28 PM

With what you want, you want a laptop not a tablet. Although the battery life you will be stuck with a low power netbook with an extended battery.

Java and other web apps are an issue, so is Flash. If you want those things, you are looking at Windows.
September 12, 2013 3:48:30 PM

hang-the-9 said:
With what you want, you want a laptop not a tablet. Although the battery life you will be stuck with a low power netbook with an extended battery.

Java and other web apps are an issue, so is Flash. If you want those things, you are looking at Windows.


Thanks.

Now I'm wondering about the Surface RT.

If it's well-built and decently speedy, then for the price (especially since it comes with Microsoft Office), it could be a really good buy for the money, and worth the extra bucks.

Of course, it's Microsoft, so I can't assume any of those things. And while the touch keyboard looks like something I could get used to, I was wondering if you can really get the same WPM as on a mechanical keyboard

Or, I could get a net book like you suggested and buy Microsoft Office for it.
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a b Ë Android
September 13, 2013 6:51:44 AM

Don't even need MS Office, OpenOffice works as well and it's free.

I would not get a netbook though, those are slow and the whole segment is not doing well. Once people got over the whole "oo cute it's so little and cheap!" thing, they start to realize they don't run much and start trying to sell them to buy a real laptop.

Windows RT is also looking to be a dead end, it does not run Windows programs, and could be killed off by Microsoft due to poor sales and reviews.

If you are OK with just running "apps" instead of real programs, a tablet is OK, but I'd get an Android or iOS one. Since you want it to run real web sites with no issues, a laptop is best. For $2-300 you are probably looking at something used, you can find a decent i3 or Core 2 Duo laptop for that much, just make sure you run a stress test on it like Prime95 to make sure it does not crash when it heats up.

If you really need hours and hours of battery life, then you'll have to give up some flexibility and get a tablet.
September 18, 2013 6:55:15 AM

I would highly recommend purchasing a Laptop over a Tablet. Tablets have their uses but for what you're asking, a laptop is the way to go, especially for Flash and Java Applet support.

Now, if you're dead set on a tablet, at that budget, I'd go with the 2013 Nexus 7 (Snapdragon S4 version). It's cheap and still very powerful. Flash support is spotty but HTML5 is there on certain browsers. Google Apps apps are well designed so no problems there if you use Google Docs (like I do).

Unfortunately, you wont get much out of it in the way of gaming. There are some good looking games you can find but gaming on a touchscreen is tolerable at best. You'd be doing yourself a favor if you could possibly save up for and/or use a laptop at school.
September 20, 2013 6:30:55 PM

Long story short, I ended up getting a Samsung Chromebook.

Overall, count me impressed by it. Despite having a meager 2 A15 cores, it can do quite a bit of multitasking, and the quad-core Mali graphics allow for a pretty slick OS.

More importantly, Google leaves the whole thing wide open. I'm running in dev mode, which gives me full access to the Linux shell, and the ability to boot self-signed OS's (a.k.a. stuff that's not ChromeOS).

It's got a pretty good HTML5 engine (not as good as Firefox, though), which is good in a web of HTML5. Unfortunately, the ARM innards, while they allow for passive cooling and a longer battery life, don't have many native binaries written for them, leading to a lack of truly efficient and streamlined apps.

I'm talking with my Computer Science teacher about the possibility of getting an Android OS on it. My desktop meets the minimum requirements for building an Android OS from source, and there are already plenty of kernels compiled for Samsung's Exynos SOC. A bit of tweaking and you could get it to boot Android. The only real issue would be the touch pad and keyboard. If they're internally wired as USB devices, then they should work automatically with Android's built-in drivers. But if they've got a custom connection to the SOC, then that's another story entirely.

Thanks for all the help anyways. I'm giving hang-the-9 the best answer, because he was the first to respond, and both of you have said pretty much the same thing.

UPDATE
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