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?