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The Best Back-to-School Tablets for the Coming Year

students working on a tablet

Back in the ‘90s, back-to-school shopping meant choosing which color Five Star binder best matched your angsty personal brand. Today, high school kids are ditching the spiral-spined binders for far more useful and versatile notebooks and tablets—and there are a lot to choose from.

So where to start?

The Toshiba Excite Go is a fine front-runner for best back-to-school solution for younger students. It’s durable, economic and capable of email, gaming, web browsing, reading and more. At just over 12 ounces in weight and packed with the Intel Atom processor, this tablet is small but mighty.

The Asus Memo Pad 8, meanwhile, is one of the most feature-rich tablet options for students. It runs on the Android 4.4 operating system and Intel’s Atom 3745 processor, and comes in a variety of colors, including white, purple and gold. Boasting features often found in higher-end tablets, such as PixelMaster, it also offers more than nine hours of battery life, which is more than enough for the typical school day.

students doing an experiment

The Dell Venue 11 Pro Tablet has one of the largest screens of any tablet (10.8 inches) and comes packed with Intel-designed graphics and an Intel Atom Z3775 processor. Performance-wise, the Venue surpassed all previous Intel Atom tablets with a battery life in the double digits, all the while offering up business-grade power and durability in one classroom-ready device.

For a feature-rich and fast tablet with a nice price tag, the Asus VivoTab comes equipped with the full Microsoft Office Home & Student Edition suite and is ready for class right out of the box. With a built-in Wacom pressure-sensitive stylus and over nine hours of battery life, this tablet is ready to work and will stay powered throughout the school day. It comes with access to Microsoft OneDrive to easily store documents in the cloud, as well as a unique microSD card slot.

Regardless of the software your tablet comes with, there are other ways to make it an even more powerful classroom companion. The hardest math classes can become a cinch with great tablet apps from the mighty Wolfram|Alpha. Instead of committing long and confusing formulas to memory, Wolfram|Alpha becomes a personal tutor, providing formula details, graphic representations and step-by-step explanations of methods for solving.

girl reading on a tablet

For all your other classes, Scribd is hands down one of the best free apps. It offers the world’s largest online library of articles, documents and books. Easily research, reference and organize source material for any given term paper. And of course, there’s the app version of the classic SparkNotes for access to all the study guides that have helped students navigate classic lit like “War and Peace” since before Y2K.

The newest wave of tablet devices offers the benefits and convenience of mobile operating systems, and the power of a traditional laptop. It’s now easier than ever for high-school and college-age students to get their hands on portable and powerful devices that are compatible with technology-rich class assignments and won’t break the bank. Looks like the race for the highest performing tablet at a great value is anyone’s game.

Michael C. Powell keeps his spear sharp in all sorts of creative endeavors, freelancing as a writer, designer, and photographer for outlets like Consequence of Sound and IMPOSE Magazine. He’s also an alum of The Guardian, Tiny Mix Tapes, Pitchfork’s hypnagogic sister site Altered Zones, his home’s alt newsweekly LEO Weekly and others. When not making the most of his journalism degree, you can find him developing websites for a wide variety of clients, spinning records and putzing about on his two-wheeler. His breadth of interests in technology, art, and culture makes iQ by Intel an ideal home. Michael, who sometimes authors under the nom de plume Kenny Bloggins, loves Twitter and tries to make creative use of the platform at @kbloggins.

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