Which Windows device do I buy for students (or recommend for BYOD)?


After writing about the $90 7” Windows tablet two days ago (called the Pendo Pad) being sold by Coles, I thought I should spend a little more time on the range of options available for students/schools this summer, because there’s such a range of different devices, and I really don’t think that there’s a single option that will suit everybody.

As there’s such a wide range of devices, its key to have a list of criteria to allow you (or to help parents) to cancel out some of the options quickly. When I think about different computer options for education, I think about a few key things:

  • What screen size do you need?
    I don’t believe that ‘bigger kids need bigger screens, and smaller kids…’, so I think you should start with the kind of tasks students will be doing, and where they are likely to be using their device.
  • Do you want a keyboard integrated (like a laptop) or convertible (where the screen swivels) or 2 in 1 (a tablet with a detachable keyboard)?
    I believe that almost all students are going to need a keyboard for their work, and that in many cases having a keyboard as part of the device design, rather than a separate option, makes sense
  • Do you need a stylus?
    There are lots of scenarios (like note taking and graphic work) where what they do with a stylus will ensure that a student retains more knowledge, and extends their learning in new directions.
    All the devices below have touch screens.
  • How powerful does it need to be?
    There used to be a time when I would always buy a new laptop with the most powerful processor I could, and the biggest storage option. But now I’d choose the processor speed according to the main job I’m going to use a laptop for, and I’ll use OneDrive cloud storage to avoid having everything on my hard drive anyway.
  • What does it weigh?
    Although it’s the textbooks in my daughters backpack that weigh it down, a 2 kg laptop is going to make things worse, so I do ask myself “What will this feel like in a backpack?”
  • What price do I want to pay?
    I’ve always believed you get what you pay for in most cases, and where a computer is twice the price than another, there will be a clear reason.

So here’s a look at a range of devices that are well suited for Australian education customers, and are available through Australian suppliers. I’ve grouped them by approximate price band based on what they sell for in Australia, and today I’m going to deal with the sub-$600 category.

Ideal devices for schools up to $600

Device

Screen Size

Type

Pen?

Processor

Weight

Price

image
Asus Eeebook X205TA

11.6”

Laptop

No

Atom

<1kg

$349

image
Acer Travelmate B115

11.6”

Laptop

No

Pentium

1.3kg

$359

image
Acer Aspire Switch 10 Pro

10.1”

2 in 1

Yes

Atom

<600g

$549

image
Intel Classmate

10”

Laptop

Yes

Atom

<700g

$549

image
Asus Transformer T100TA

10.1”

2 in 1

No

Atom

<700g

$599

image
Dell Inspiron 11 3000 Series

11.6”

Convertible

No

Celeron

1.4kg

$599

image
HP Pavilion x 360

13.3”

Convertible

No

Celeron
or Pentium

1.4kg

$599

Learn MoreTake a look at the full recommendations for all devices across all price ranges

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