Choosing the Right Technology Device for School Use

Choosing the right technology for school

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“Can you put that date in my phone calendar please?”  I asked my daughter who was sitting in the car passenger seat across from me.  We were already on our way to the next stop and I knew if I didn’t put the appointment in, I would be liable to forget.  I continued on to give some general instructions, when she interrupted me, “Mum, it’s okay: I know how to do this.  I use it at school every day.”

Sometimes I forget my high-school daughter is as technologically savvy as I am, and not just talking about the ability to use a computer or smart phone but utilising technology as a tool. 

Technology is increasingly becoming intertwined with modern life, and this includes education.   My husband and I had a conversation recently about buying a new computer for our family, specifically for schooling as one of our daughters is now in high school, and another is approaching middle school. We do have a desktop computer for our four children to share, however, as the children move into the higher grades, more of their education relies on a portable computer for assignments and storage; research and lessons; organisation and homework.

When I began to look into buying another computer, I found there were many complex choices and factors to consider – tablet, ultrabook, notebook and chromebook (I didn’t even know what a chromebook was!); Windows or Mac; Android and iOS; and then there’s performance to think about too – so I found researching on a suitable device for school a lot tricker than purchasing a computer for myself.

1. Research important factors

That brings me to this post and the research I’ve done with the help of Intel.  I’m working with Intel, because as the brains of most computing devices, their knowledge can be applied to many different devices and brands, depending on needs, and I like that.  The information helped me to recognise important and specific factors I may not have thought of, for example:

 Choosing the right technology for school

Battery Life: It needs to easily last at school all day

Weight: Kids have to carry it around with books and other things in their bag so the device should weigh less than 2kg

Durability: Sturdy on the inside too so SSD storage is ideal

Performance: What sort of performance is necessary for what types of tasks? What would be ideal for high school vs primary school? 

2. Make an informed list

After using Intel research tools, I wrote a list of informed key factors I’m looking for in a device for school.  This helped me feel confident about what I wanted, and I sound like I know what I’m talking about (when, really, it’s like another language to me – ha). Most of the comprehensive consolidation is already done and I created this list for myself by applying the information to my family’s needs: 

  • Laptop (preferable)
  • Touch screen (preferred but not imperative)
  • Screen size: at least 10”
  • Weight: Under 2 Kilograms
  • Battery life: needs to last more than 7 hours
  • Performance: Either Intel® Core™ i3, Core™ i5 or Core™ i7. Ideally Core i5 (packs the power needed for everyday work and play; good for mainstream productivity apps)
  • Wireless & Networking capabilities (to tap into the school Wi-Fi)
  • Storage: At Least 128 GB
  • SSD Storage (preferable, not imperative)
  • Budget: under $1,000 ($1,300 at a stretch)

3. Shop Smart 

I then moved away from the information page into the shop section where there are search tools so you can narrow down and filter results across various brands and devices.

Choosing the right technology for school

The Intel Back to School website also covers many other helpful topics — for example RAM; processors and the difference between Windows and Mac – in an easy to understand way. It comes highly recommended for anyone looking for a device for school, and especially if, like me, you’re not all that computer tech savvy.   I see this sort of research to be imperative because the best way to choose the correct device for your child’s schooling needs is to be informed.

ASUS Transformer Book T100T Review

ASUS Transformer Book T100T Review

I’m using the information I learned in my research to do a review of a popular and affordable device: the ASUS T100T Transformer book.   This is not my device to keep, I borrowed it for a few weeks for this review and my eldest daughter and I have been putting it through its paces to see how it fares.

What is it?

The ASUS T100T Transformer book is a 2-in-1 device with a keyboard dock and detachable touch screen tablet so it acts as both a tablet and a laptop.

Price

$599

Specs

Processor 

  Quad core Intel® Atom™ processor

Operating System

  Window 8.1 with MS Office Home & Student 2013

Main Memory

  2GB

Storage

  32G/64G eMMC with ASUS WebStorage

Display

  10.1″ HD (1366*768) IPS with multi-touch

Graphics

  Intel HD Graphics

Camera

  1.2Mp camera

Battery

  31Whr (11 hrs)

Dimensions

  Tablet: 263 x 171 x 10.5 mm (WxDxH)  Dock: 263 x 171 x13mm (WxDxH)

Weight

  Tablet: 550g  Dock: 520g

Home Screen

The home screen can be tailored.  This makes it quick and easy to find popular programs and features.  This screen can be changed into a desktop mode (more of what you would see on a regular laptop) if preferred so there’s flexibility there

ASUS Transformer Book T100T Review

The screen comes off the keyboard dock so it can be used as a tablet.

Usability

Once I worked out a few function features, I found the tablet easy to use. For example, to close a program, swipe from the top to the base and you can access menu bars from the right side and base.

 ASUS Transformer Book T100T Review

ASUS Transformer Book T100T Review

I gave the laptop to my daughter (aged twelve going on thirteen) to try out.  With no prior instruction, she was able to navigate the computer right away so the usability factor is easy.  These are her thoughts in under 40 seconds: 

Value

The device comes with MS Office already installed at no extra cost and this is especially attractive for a school device.

Parental Controls

Windows provides the option to set up a login account for the child to help assist with monitoring screen time with Family Safety.

Screen & Sound

The screen is lovely, and worth a special mention, with gorgeous clarity and bright colour. Sound is great too.  This makes the tablet great fun for entertainment purposes.   

ASUS Transformer Book T100T Review

As a Laptop

How does it perform as a laptop?

I regularly use both a laptop and a tablet and in my opinion, the ASUS T100T can function in both capacities.  It does perform as an everyday laptop with the added benefit of a touch screen.

Pros & Cons

Below is a list of Pros & Cons my daughter and I noted:

Pros

  • Lightweight and small
  • Great screen clarity and definition
  • MS Office included
  • Long battery life – 11 hours
  • Affordable
  • Responsive touch screen
  • Laptop/tablet interchangeable
  • Runs Windows 8.1
  • USB Port for external storage options
  • Good performance capabilities respective to an inexpensive price

Cons

  • The keyboard is small so typing is tricky. However, with some practice, I believe it would become easier.
  • Charge time is long (needs a good 4 hours) but once charged, the battery lasts up to 11 hours
  • Outer top casing is plastic so I would consider a sturdy protection case
  • From what I could see, there were not many free games available to download on the Windows system, so there would be extra cost there if game variety was an interest

Observations

  • The screen doesn’t open up and tilt back as wide a regular laptop (goes to a right angle)
  • The mouse is a little stiff to click

Conclusion

The ASUS T100T Transformer Book is a handy little unit with surprisingly sophisticated features and solid performance for the budget price. What is great about this device in terms of schooling is the size, versatility of an interchangeable unit and the added bonus of MS Office included (a sizeable money saver).  There are a few drawbacks, like a small keyboard and a lack of refinement in the overall design, but again, for the low price tag, it appears to offer a good measure of both worlds: tablet and laptop.

Would I buy one?

I often get asked this question when I do these types of reviews.  This device does tick many of my boxes, and after seeing my daughter use it with such finesse and ease, and having it all set up with MS Office, it would be one I would consider, especially for middle school age group (and it’s so affordable).  However, going back to my research, a regular laptop with the specific capabilities I jotted down (above) is still on the top of my list for my eldest child.  There are two main reasons for this: Firstly, my first preference of a processor in a device is an Intel® Core™ i5.  The ASUS T100 has an Intel® Atom™ processor which, although does run full programs, the type of school work my daughter will be doing, plus some of the design and photo editing programs she’s interested in, will require something with a little more oomph. Secondly, although the ability to convert the T100 into a table is useful, it’s not something we require at the moment.

After wading through all this myself, I see three key steps in deciding on a device for school:

1. Research the important factors to consider for a device for school (The Intel information is relevant and comprehensive -I found it excellent)

2. Apply the information to your child’s/family’s needs

3. Make an informed choice you’re confident about

I’m a seasoned technology user, however, I haven’t taken the time to learn more about the integral parts that make up a device before now…and you know what? It feels good to write about things like different processors, and have a general idea what I’m talking about. Ha!

Helpful Link

Head over to the Intel website for more comprehensive information and explanation of terms:

Intel – choosing a device for school

Does your school have a bring your own device programme? 

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Comments

  1. Sharron Peacock says

    I have a 15 yr old, 13 yr old and a 8 yr old. They
    Are all different and they are all at different schools
    Too so their needs are different also. My two
    Teenagers were given a laptop as part of their
    Fees so we were told in a special parent conference
    About the safety issues and safety programs
    That are put on each computer. Having said that,
    They can still have Facebook or Instagram etc
    And as they are under the school program as
    A whole, you as a parent have to go to the school
    And ask for their pu code to remove those options
    If you want to. With our 8 yr old, he is part of
    A reading and math program and he needs to
    Work on that at home. We have a security program
    On the iPad at home and he uses it for this
    Program. All in all, I was scared about the devises
    And how we could manage it. My husband and
    I will always keep a close eye on what’s happening
    And we know their passwords and do spot
    Checks randomly. Great to do a post on this
    Kelly, thanks :)

  2. Bonnie says

    I am a staunch MAC convert and wouldn’t touch an ASUS or any other intel product with a ten foot pole! However, I feel the spirit of this post is more about technology in childrens’ lives.

    I am what you may call a tech head. I love technology. Have since I was young (with our first IBM)! two of my children (13 & 15) have a computer, which they use for school. I have put NetNanny on our computers to protect our children from the nasties.

    Our youngest (10.5), uses our family iMac for her school related assignments. She also enjoys the computer for child related games.

    My children mostly take after me with regards to the computer. My hubby provides a wonderful balance for our tech-ness!

    Great post Kelly (would be better if it were about an apple ;-))

  3. Nae peters says

    I totally agree with your point regarding research. Knowledge is power and if you research a product you can make an informed choice which will mean it’s going to be exactly what your after.
    My sons not school age yet but I have a few appropriate apps on the iPad that he plays every now & again.

  4. says

    Great post on the laptop…. I have an IT man in the house, but when I read it I was like ‘that’s really useful I’ll flick it to Mum’…..

    P.S. My Mum is a repeat black thumb technology offender, she is the ONLY person I know who can completely wipe a laptop twice in a 5 day period (oh yes, she did)…

  5. says

    I like a good, balanced, informative review post and this was just that. I think it’s so cool that the screen comes off to make a tablet! Ahh, technology these days huh? Crazy! Lots of great info here. Thanks :)

  6. says

    I have been eyeing off something like this for myself a while so thank you for this great review… love that you included any drawbacks you found as well as all the positives.

    Our school currently has laptop program for 5/6 and is considering changing to an ipad program… I am hoping they don’t because I will have twins in 5/6 next year and the thought of having to buy two ipads scares my budget conscious mind! But they do run a rental program for laptops currently which is very reasonable so maybe it will be similar if they go to ipads… I hope so!

  7. says

    My Miss M is nearly 16 and now having a part time job she has been able to save up and purchase a new mac book air. They were given school issue computers in year 9, three years later and these computers are just struggling. She much prefers to use her own. So many websites are blocked, that when it comes to dong homework and assignments it’s often hard to look up information. She will probably use her own more often than her school one for year 11 and 12.

  8. says

    Technology has played such a large part in my kids lives. The youngest one (Miss 15) does have access to a large range of technological devises at school but does prefer to take her own Macbook Air to school everyday.

  9. says

    Just a thought from me. My son aged 14 and in Year 9 had to get a device and the school got some good deals. We got him a laptop through school… but now I have some issues… it’s a PC and I’m a Mac girl and find it very frustrating to get my head around. Also it’s too heavy… his bag is ridiculously heavy with books as it is. So if doing it again I might get him a Macbook Air (more expensive though) or a tablet.

    Bring back the chalkboard, I say.

  10. says

    I was going to be lazy about buying a computer for Miss Possum. She’ll really need a better one soon. The one she uses is SOOOO old. Your post has totally given me food for thought. I’m going to do a little more investigating to see what will be right for her.

  11. says

    I love your post. we have two kids at high school working on the school’s ASUS computers, supplementing their use with home computers and an iPad. The eldest has had his for four years and he’s about to finish year 12, no problems yet – but our kids have been brought up around electronics so are very careful with them.
    I used to joke that No1 son was born from the matrix, as a baby I used to feed him and lay him in my lap while I worked on the computer 17 years ago and he was tapping away on the ABC Kids site before his first birthday. We’ve never stopped them from getting on when they liked, but they’ve been brilliant at regulating their usage. We have taught them about what to do when they get their own emails/Facebook pages etc and come across adult content and I’m relieved to say they have been sensible about the whole thing, and even shared their strategies with their friends.
    Until we moved into this house though – computers where always out in the living areas, even laptops. Now they have their own spaces, the desktop is in the eldest’s room, but all the other computers tend to be in communal spaces simply our four kids like being around someone.

  12. says

    Children are so incredibly tech savvy these days and they are growing up in a world that really does require them to use technology. I really enjoyed reading this honest review of the Transformer Book. A fabulous help to any parent looking to purchase one for their child. :)

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