The Best Tablets for College 2017

best tablets for college

Here's a fun fact: there are over 52+ companies that make tablets. In fact, a lot more. But at a certain point the quality has gone down so much that I just stopped looking for alternatives. Most tech review sites like CNET, PCMag and what not recommend  only a handful of companies and with good reason.  A lot of tablets (even the unique and cool) aren't simply available in the States or are too gimmicky for the average user. I made this list of the "best" tablets for college by just reflecting on what I would've wanted in my college days.

If you're an artist you might want to check out our list of drawing tablets.

The Perfect Tablet for College

The perfect tablet for college should be cost effective, should support at least 1080 HD resolution and a stylus. Because without a stylus you might as well choose the first one that appeals to you aesthetically. In theory we also want it to be larger than 10 inches to reduce eye strain and make it even easier to take notes with. It should also have back facing camera so we can take pictures of the notes on the blackboard or our friend's notebook. Last but not least, it needs to have the longest battery life we can find.
Our criteria is:

  • Cost effective
  • At least 1920/1080 FULL HD resolution
  • At least 10 inches
  • Back facing camera
  • Long battery life
  • Pen enabled/stylus included
  • Top 7 College Tablets

    samsung-galaxy-tab-10-1-review

    The Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 Inch with S Pen is nearly perfect. Not only is it on the cheap side while maintaining quality, it checks all the boxes I set out at the start of this article. It supports a FULL HD display of 1080p. And although it's not the biggest tablet on the market with expensive Surface or Ipad Pros touting 12-13 or more inches, it also doesn't suffer from the price bloat. It's also not the most powerful tablet on the market but we don't want a college tablet because it's powerful, we want the best tablet for college that allows us to do our work unhindered, while also allowing for the occasional entertainment (game or movie) and web browsing. The Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 is the best tablet for college if price is an issue and you don't want to sacrifice any meaningful functionality.

    samsung s3

    Although roughly an inch smaller than the Ipad Pro at 9.7, it's cheaper, includes a stylus , lacks a keyboard which you might want to buy too. The resolution is a stunning 2048 x 1536 pixels on a beautiful AMOLED display. So, this is definitely already better than the Ipad Pro. It too features an audiophiles quad speaker dream. The only downside is the android software ( if you don't like it ) or the slightly smaller surface. On the up side android has at least 10x the user base of Apple and thus will probably allow more interesting apps. But maybe you don't like Android or Apple.  

    What are the strengths of the Microsoft's Surface series? Or are you simply a Windows fan and want a tablet that allows you to continue in their ecosystem? And their weaknesses?

    surface pro 4

    The latest Surface Pro was a disappointment.  Extremely powerful, yes. Beautifully designed and definitely feels high end. But overpriced and costs more than the Ipad Pro while being able to do more than you'd want to do with it. All that power is somewhat needless on a tablet and more appropriate for a laptop. None of the accessories are included and the accessories don't come cheap either. The pen itself sets you back by roughly a 100.

    What about the series 4? They are cheaper nowadays and the n-trig technology stylus is included and although it's not a perfect tool for drawing, it will definitely suffice for college work and note taking. On the downside the older models might heat up and you wouldn't want it on your lap. Cooling system could be better, which it is in the 5 but not in the 4. The Surface Pro series has always stood out for it's raw computational power. Unfortunately, the power comes at a cost of price and well louder processing. On the bright side the Surface Pro has always been quite large with almost every Surface being at least 12 inches.

    ipad pro

    Unlike the Apple Ipad (9.7 inch) the Ipad Pro (10.5 inch) has stylus support. Which allows you take notes lightning fast. It also has a buttery smooth quad sound system on top of a crystal clear IPS screen that will melt your eyes. But it's pricey, you have to pay for the keyboard and the stylus extra and with those we're nearing laptop level costs.  Frankly, Apple products are always overpriced and the consumer is stuck paying for the brand/marketing and not actual value. So what is the alternative? Does it have to be android? 

    samsung galaxy book 10

    The Samsung Galaxy book has outstanding specs. FULL HD 1080 resolution. 2.6GHz processor, 4GB of RAM. It also includes an S pen and keyboard within the base price. Supporting both wifi and bluetooth, accompanied by a 10.6" inch screen. It's powerful, it's not too costly compared to the other flagships in the tablet or 2in1 space and if you're already a Samsung mobile user it will seamlessly mesh with your smartphone. Up to 11 hours of web browsing while looking like a high end quality gadget. For those of you with with more cash and requirements you can upgrade the storage capacity and even the stylus aesthetic to suit your needs. On downside for the tech savy users who like to boot your OS from a USB bear in mind that the current BIOS does not support that. As usual the battery duration is not the same as advertised. Don't expect it to last for 6 hours just watching video. 

    lenovo yoga book

    The Lenovo Yoga Book looks amazing and feels like a high quality device with it's magnesium chassie. Too bad that the keyboard isn't exactly convenient for long form typing. Due to the nature of the keyboard also doubling as a track pad for your pen you will find it hard to get the same feedback from the keyboard you are used to when typing with mechanical keys. Outside of that annoyance, it's nearly perfect? Full HD resolution, stylus and keyboard included. 4GB of RAM on a processor that you can boost for more performance. An 64GB SSD drive for lightning fast file storage, closing, relocation and saving and booting in just mere seconds in comparison to standard hard drives. It can also double as a drawing pad that you can connect to your home monitor should you wish it. It also promises up to 15 hours of usage but we all know that's not reality. Regardless if you're sure that you won't need the keyboard functionality as much, it might be the best 2 in 1 out there.

    lenovo ideapad

    If you're looking for a bit more oomph but don't want to pay the premium that Apple or Microsoft might ask of you. Then the Lenovo IdeaPad Miix might be the 2 in 1 for you. It checks all our base criteria and although it's a bit more expensive, the expense comes from the extra capacity, size and power it delivers. The battery life isn't amazing and if you're looking for a device that is very independent then you'll be disappointed. Up to 5 hours of battery life which isn't too bad but you got to be wondering is that an exact estimate or the kind of rough estimate companies do when they boldly claim that the device they are selling will last that long? Regardless it's got double the RAM, quadruple the storage space and roughly 20% more screen size than most of the tablets I cover in this article.

    Tablet making Companies

    Most of them did not make the cut because they did not offer a stylus. If a stylus is not important for you then it doesn't really matter what you buy. Just pick one that fits your aesthetic and budget. But I figure from my own university experience the ability to take digital notes is probably the most significant function in a "college tablet". Other reasons why some of these companies did not make the cut were malware for instance asian companies like Acer sure love their bloatware. Alternatively companies like Nokia don't sell in the states although they make beautiful tablets in the Chinese market. Remarkable created an interesting note taking/reading tablet but it lacked basic functionality like email web browsing or color. A lot of these companies also only made small tablets up to 8 inches. I assume you want a tablet that will help you in college, not cause eye strain and just take away from your ability to concentrate.

    1. Asus
    2. Huawei
    3. Samsung
    4. Apple
    5. Microsoft
    6. Kindle
    7. Lenovo
    8. ReMarkable
    9. HP Spectre
    10. Eve V
    11. RCA Voyager
    12. Dell
    13. Acer
    14. Panasonic
    15. Barnes and Noble
    16. Wacom
    17. LG
    18. Google
    19. AT&T
    20. BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition
    21. Toshiba
    22. Alcatel
    23. Xiaomi
    24. Vaio
    25. Archos
    26. Leapfrog
    27. AARP
    28. Nextbook
    29. Jolla
    30. Blackphone
    31. Haier
    32. Nokia
    33. Nvidia Shield
    34. Sharp Mebius Pad
    35. Aspire
    36. Intel Education
    37. Sony
    38. Evga Tegra
    39. Coby Kyros
    40. Motorola
    41. ViewSonic
    42. Kobo Arc
    43. Hisense Sero
    44. Razer Edge
    45. ZTE
    46. Nabi
    47. Velocity
    48. Pandigital
    49. HTC
    50. Vizio
    51. BlackBerry
    52. MayLong
    About the author

    John Thatch

    John Thatcher is a computer science educated artist. He uses technology to solve artist problems. His friends don't like it when he speaks of himself in the third person. But John does it anyway, because he's a rebel.

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