Best tablets for use in online classes

March 27, 2019

For some students, a laptop isn’t portable enough for their learning needs.

As technologies improve and online classes continue to increase in popularity nationwide, a good mobile device, like a smartphone or tablet, has become a very useful tool for students who like to learn on-the-go.

Students who need this flexibility should consider a device that is well suited for their coursework. Basic capabilities to look for include powerful processors, software flexibility, visually appealing displays, and high quality keyboards, cameras, and microphones.

Here’s a “best of” list of tablets for online learning.

Apple iPad Pro 11”

Apple’s 11” iPad Pro features a larger screen with enhanced resolution that’s brighter and less reflective than ever. With outstanding CPU performance and a powerful A10X Fusion chip, the iPad Pro 11” can handle video processing and multitasking between apps as quickly and easily as most laptops. An “all day” 10-hour battery life, the ability to use a smart keyboard or Apple Pencil, and the option to add cellular service can greatly increase your productivity as you do coursework.

Hardware specifications:

  • Processor: Apple A10X Fusion
  • Display: 11-inch retina display with 2224 x 1668 resolution and 120Hz refresh rate
  • Storage: 64GB, 256GB, 512GB options
  • GPU: PowerVR Series 7 (12-core graphics)
  • Camera: Rear 12 MP, front 7 MP
  • Operating System: iOS 11.2
  • Battery Life: up to 10 hours
  • Weight: 1 lb

App availability: Apple’s iOS mobile operating system. [Capella University has a mobile app for students with Apple devices.]

Pricing: iPad Pro 11” starts at $799.

Apple iPad 2018

If the iPad Pro sounds like too much device for you, Apple’s “regular” iPad is a smaller and more affordable option with similar benefits. Its 9.7-inch retina display comes with a resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels, which is plenty for bright and vivid viewing of video conferences and other media. It can also handle multitasking and app use with its A10 Fusion chip and 2GB of RAM. Like the Pro version, you can add a smart keyboard, Apple Pencil, and cellular service for ease of use anywhere you choose to study. The regular iPad also comes with a 10-hour battery for all-day usage.

Hardware specifications:

  • Processor: Apple A10 Fusion
  • Display: 9.7-inch retina display with 2048 x 1536 resolution
  • Storage: 32GB, 128GB options
  • RAM: 2 GB RAM
  • Camera: Rear 8 MP, front 1.2 MP
  • Operating System: iOS 12
  • Battery Life: up to10 hours
  • Weight: 0.99 lbs

App availability: As mentioned above, apps are plentiful from the App Store. [Capella University has an Apple mobile app.]

Pricing: iPad 2018 10.2” starts at $329.

Microsoft Surface Pro (5th Gen)

The Surface Pro (5th Gen) can act as a tablet but has all of the functionality of a lightweight laptop. Running all the Microsoft desktop software you’re used to relying on, this 1.7-pound tablet offers performance and flexibility on-the-go. It has a large 12.3-inch screen compacted into a slim device. You can easily adjust from a laptop to tablet with the kickstand and keyboard. Take class notes with Surface Pen and improved Type Cover, sold separately. Surface Pro (5th Gen) has advanced wireless capabilities and 4G/LTE connectivity, so you never need to worry about Wi-Fi availability. All of these factors combine to make it a great option for students in online classes.

Hardware specifications:

  • Processor: Intel 10th Gen Core m3, i5, or i7
  • Display: Screen: 12.3″ PixelSense display with 2736 x 1824 resolution
  • Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB options
  • RAM: 4GB, 8GB or 16GB LPDDR4x RAM
  • Camera: Rear 8 MP, front 5 MP
  • Operating System: Windows 10 Pro
  • Battery Life: up to 10.5 hours
  • Weight: 1.7 lbs

App availability: The number of big-name brands offering apps on Windows 10 Mobile is growing, but many would say their store still falls short compared to what’s available in the Apple or Android stores. [While there is not yet a specific Windows 10 mobile app from Capella, the mobile website works extremely well on the Surface Pro.]

Pricing: Microsoft Surface Pro (5th Gen) starts at $749.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S4

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 is another tablet that converts easily to a laptop with impressive features all around. The 10.5” screen with a 2560 x 1600-pixel resolution is ideal for viewing cinematic details on the small screen. With a powerful processor and 4GB of RAM, the Galaxy Tab S4 can handle intense apps and massive multitasking. The 16-hour battery life is perfect for busy students who may not have access to charging stations throughout the day. As a bonus, this tablet excels at photography with a 13-megapixel primary rear camera and an 8-megapixel front camera.

Hardware specifications:

  • Processor: 2.3 GHz Snapdragon 835 Octa-Core Chipset
  • Display: Screen: 10.5-inch Super AMOLED with 2560 x 1600 resolution
  • Storage: 64GB, 256GB options
  • RAM: 4GB, 8GB or 16GB RAM
  • Camera: Rear 13 MP, front 8 MP
  • Operating System: Android O
  • Battery Life: up to 16 hours
  • Weight: 1.7 lbs

App availability: There is no shortage of app options. [Capella’s Android App is optimal for Samsung products.]

Pricing: The Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 starts at $649.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

Competing with the iPad Mini, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7” and 8” offer plentiful storage, a sleek design, and an HD screen. With a lower price and high functionality, this device is a front-runner as a tablet for students. The 4:3 aspect ratio screen allows reading that’s easy on students’ eyes. The MS Office solutions and OneDrive cloud storage features allow for easy creation and editing of documents and coursework. The device comes with 32GB of storage, a microSD card expansion slot, fingerprint scanner, and long battery life.

Hardware specifications:

  • Processor: Octa-core Exynos processor with a 1.9GHz quad-core chip plus a 1.3GHz quad-core chip
  • Display: 8- or 9.7-inch with 1536 x 2048 resolution
  • Storage: 32GB
  • RAM: 3GB
  • Camera: Rear 8 MP, front 2.1 MP
  • Operating System: Android 6.0
  • Battery Life: up to 14 hours
  • Weight: 9.35 oz

App availability: There is no shortage of app options. [Capella’s Android App is optimal for Samsung products.]

Pricing: The Galaxy Tab S2 9.7” starts at $399 and the Galaxy Tab S2 8” starts at $349.

Purchasing a tablet for educational purposes is an important decision. Different online classes may have different requirements, from video needs to requiring the use of Microsoft Office products. Be sure to check with your school before deciding on a device.

Capella’sonline classesare simplified with the Mobile Courseroom and Campus Support, connecting students to resources like the course dashboard, degree plan, discussion boards, and faculty and classmate contacts.

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