One big reason why computers are still relegated to labs and not
part and parcel of a teacher's everyday classroom instruction:
They're bulky. Even laptops can get in the way. Tablet PCs solve that
design flaw. They are mobile computers that teachers and students
can truly integrate with a stylus for input on a touch screen. What
some people call "convertible" or "hybrid" versions also have a keyboard,
for maximum flexibility of input—type on the keyboard, or
"write" on the screen (after swiveling the screen around the keyboard
and laying it flat)—take notes, draw, run programs, all without
using a keyboard. Read what other benefits educators around the
country have discovered about using tablets.
A note about prices quoted in this product guide—as with all PCs,
prices depend on options chosen. We have listed the entry price for
each model on the date this product review was written. Please
check with the manufacturer for the latest prices; in some cases your
state may have negotiated special pricing through a state contract.
HOW TO INCREASE BATTERY LIFE
- Adjust the screen brightness.
Dimmer screen means longer
- Turn off WiFi when not in use. A
wifi system can be constantly looking
for a network, using power.
- Use the power conservation
settings of your tablet/laptop.
This will adjust a number of
settings to increase battery life.
- Save less frequently each save
spins the hard drive, using power.
- Defragment your hard drive. A
fragmented hard drive requires
more drive access, and therefore
more power use.
- Add RAM (memory) to your system.
With additional RAM, less
hard drive access will be needed
by your applications.
- Minimize multitasking—for example,
close your email program
while you work on that spreadsheet.
If not, the email program
will be periodically checking for
email, using more power.
The Gateway E-295C (www.gateway.com; starts at
$1,539) has a 14" WXGA TFT Active Matrix Color Display
and weighs in at 7 pounds. It runs Windows Vista
Business, has integrated WiFi, and a battery life of up to
10.6 hours (depending on choice of battery). James
Sims, IT Support Specialist with Colorado Elpaso County
School District 8, says "the one thing that sets it apart
from other tablets is screen size. It is still one of the
largest and easiest to read in the industry."
The Lenovo ThinkPad X200 (www.lenovo.com; starts at
$1,171) is another lightweight (3.5 pounds), boasting a
battery life of more than 10 hours (depending on specific
model selected). The display is a 12.1" WXGA screen,
and the X200 runs the Windows Vista Business OS. WiFi
is built in, and broadband is optional. In her experience,
Jessica Sepke (St. Mary's School, Raleigh, NC), says
"They hold up very well in the brutal environment of a
boarding school where students change locations
constantly through the day.
The DELL Latitude XT (www.dell.com; starts at $2,351) is
a 3.5 pound convertible tablet PC with a 12.1" LED WXGA
screen. This slim (only 1" thick) tablet has an expected
battery life of 9.5 hours. It runs under either Windows
Vista or XP 2005 tablet edition, and comes with built-in
mobile broadband and WiFi. Bret Foster, CIO of the
Anderson County Schools, KY, says "the Latitude XT
assists a student with severe cerebral palsy. The student
uses her hand to interact with software to communicate
The Toshiba Portege M700 (http://explore.toshiba.com/laptops/portege/M700, starts at $1,599) has a 12.1" WXGA
screen, weighs 4.6 pounds, and sports an optical drive as
well as a built-in Webcam and microphone. It runs the
Windows XP Tablet Edition 2005 OS, and includes WiFi
capability. Battery life ranges from about 3-5 hours. Mike
Welty, director of technology at Brophy College
Preparatory School, AZ, likes that the screen is touch sensitive.
"With the touch sensitivity, students can use the
computer in all its capacities even without the stylus."
The Fujitsu LifeBook U810 (http://www.shopfujitsu.com/; starts at
$999) is the real lightweight of the group, weighing in
at 1.56 pounds. Screen size is only 5.6" (WSVGA), it
runs the Windows Vista Home Premium OS, and
battery life is rated at 5.5 hours. WiFi is included, and
broadband is optional. Maryann Molinari, a 4th/5thgrade
science teacher at PS 6 in Staten Island, NY,
says, "The small size and light weight is perfect for
students because it's like using a Game Boy instead of
The HP EliteBook 2730p (www.hp.com, starts at $1,670)
weighs 3.7 pounds and runs the Windows Vista
Business OS. It has a 12.1-inch WXGA screen and
includes WiFi; battery life can be extended up to about
12 hours with the optional battery accessory. Kenneth
Collura, Director of Communication and Instructional
Technologies for the Office of Catholic
Schools/Department of Education in Columbus, OH,
likes how teachers and students can "view notes
complete with arrows, highlights, and even doodles."