Five reasons college students should think twice before buying a tablet for college
Five months after purchasing it, I am already selling my Nook Color. It is not that it is not an impressive piece of technology; it is that it is not as functional as an organizer or e-reader to justify the price tag.
According to a recent study by Pearson Foundation, tablet ownership has more than tripled among college students since this time last year. Currently over one-quarter of students now own a standard tablet.
The same study found that most high school and college students believe that e-readers will eventually replace books. Most students also agree that these e-readers make reading “more fun” and enhance their learning experience.
Nevertheless, my personal experience with these devices has led me to believe that tablets are not the ultimate college student tools that advertisers may have you believe. At least not yet.
They do not run the programs students need
Can tablets run full-version Microsoft Office programs, Photoshop, inDesign or programming compilers? Can you create high-quality voice recordings and edit them?
Not yet. You may be able to get some of these programs on your tablet, but they will be watered-down versions of them.
If you are a student who is looking to be more productive, forking up five hundred plus dollars for a device that cannot run the basics is counter-productive.
What tablets are designed for is primarily third-world entertainment, not productivity.
Maybe someday tablets will be able to replace laptops in terms of functionality.
But not today.
Electronic textbooks cannot replace textbooks
For one, electronic textbooks have no resale value. At the end of the semester, many students look forward to cashing in their old textbooks for some extra cash.
But if you bought your textbooks on your e-reader tablet, all your left with is a small digital remnant of a class that you have already taken, taunting you with its uselessness.
Do you keep the textbook on your device? Of course not, you will never read it again.
Do you delete it? Of course not, it was a hundred dollars.
Secondly, electronic textbooks are harder to study. While, they boast highlighting and bookmarking capabilities, that does not come close to actually holding the textbook, marking in it and folding the pages.
It does not do anything that an iPhone already does better and faster (and it is not nearly as portable)
If you do not already own a smart phone, chances are you have considered purchasing one.
And if you have ever held the iPhone up to the iPad to compare, you have probably already dimissed owning both as a socio-economic redundancy.
Tablets (primarily the iPad) are one of those technological devices that have shifted from the “want” category to “need” with too few people questioning it.
The more critically I have analyzed tablets, the more likely I am to categorize them as “neat,” not “necessary.”
Too often have I heard friends and colleagues who own both iPhones and a tablet complain that their tablet is just a larger version of their iPhone or Andriod device.
This may be because, in many ways, tablets are just larger versions of smart phones. The primary difference is still the devices’ portability.
One point for the iPhone. Zero for tablets.
Tablets are gateways to other sources of wasteful spending
Congratulations, you just bought a tablet. The first thing you are going to want to do is purchase applications within the device.
The day I bought my Nook Color, I bought several books, games and other useless tools.
User mentality when you first buy a tablet is not unlike getting your first iPhone. Yes, it is an incredible device. But it does not really feel like your device is reaching its full potential until you load it up with useless applications that you buy on impulse.
And believe me, it adds up.
Ultimately, it is a distraction
Sure, you could make the argument that it is a matter of who owns the device. But ask yourself- how many times have you seen a student in class using their iPad, Nook or Kindle to read their textbook or take notes?
Now ask yourself how many times you’ve seen another student using their device to play Angry Birds or browse 9gag?
Chances are that there are far more in the latter group. Students who are motivated to do their class work and study probably don’t need a fancy piece of electronics to help them do it.
Photo credit: Barnes and Noble Nook/ Andrew Magill (commons.wikimedia.org) This story originally appeared in the Niner Times.