Tablets and E-Readers: What to do, what to do…

Whenever people start buzzing about tech products, especially Apple products, I’m curious why folks immediately jump on the bandwagon to buy these pricey gadgets. I waited to buy a Kindle until they came out with a smaller, less expensive version.  I tested it in a store beforehand and began reading books on it immediately after purchase.

Now, tablets that do more than standard e-readers are all the rage.  The iPad is in its second generation and other companies are trying to come up with competitive substitutes. I’ve seen the Samsung Galaxy Tab in action, and while impressive, I’m still not sure why I’d pay the high price tag for one unless I had a money tree in the backyard. Ditto for the iPad. They are fun and pretty gadgets to be sure, but I dislike virtual keyboards and I’m not particularly fond of the interface for either the iPad or the Galaxy Tab. Those are minor issues though.  What really prevents me from throwing down a credit card is determining how I would use a tablet on a regular basis.

Working in education also forces the question: How can iPads or other tablets be utilized in the classroom?  Are we paying for expensive e-readers or are there legitimate educational uses for tablets?  (See my iPad Users Group blog.)

Take a look at a recent article on The State of the Tablet and E-Reader Market.  While the data here is compiled from questions about basic use of tablets, it is interesting to note that reading has become popular once again.  Campus Technology’s 2011 conference is underway at the time of this writing and here’s some insight into their discussions on using tablets in the classroom.  A link to educator Jenna Linskens’ website was posted with her list of iPad applications for use in education.

Another question rolling around in my head is: is the iPad the only option? Will other tablets work in the classroom or elsewhere? Or is quantity of applications the deciding factor when purchasing a tablet?

Let me know what you think.

Update: /9.7.11:     I am seeing more and more commentaries on which type of tablet to buy. Based on the pricing alone of these devices I think you should spend as much time figuring which tablet to buy as you would when opting to buy a computer; it shouldn’t be about popularity, but needs.  Here are some interesting links:

Tablets forum: Is a tablet right for me?  If so, which one?

The right tablet for e-learning: Del Duo

Tablet or netbook?

Update: 11/29/11 So I let price and compatibility do the talking for me and picked up a BlackBerry Playbook for $200 (regularly $500) on Black Friday at Staples. I like the smaller size and it works with my BlackBerry phone so that’s a plus. (Truth be told, if we could all afford an iPad, we probably would start there, but they’re way out of my price range!  As I’ve said before when discussing tablets, you really should justify the price of the more expensive ones.  Heck, you can get a new computer for the price of an iPad.)

Update: 8/14/12  Yep, the times and tablets, they are a changing.  See what the site Make Use Of now suggests for What You Need to Know Before Buying a Tablet.  (Obviously from the omission of the Blackberry OS, they already consider the Playbook obsolete even though it recently came out with a 4G LTE version. Of course, that may simply have to do with Research in Motion’s downward spiral in the whole arena.)

About Karen Homan

Karen Homan is a 13 year veteran at Bard College where she writes and edits end-user documentation to educate faculty and staff in computer software. She has been involved with software training for over 15 years, is experienced in producing training videos, blogs about technology, and is now delving into WordPress.
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