Today I had an email from a parent asking if they should buy an iPad for their pupil to replace their last one that is struggling with the demands of online learning. I though it might be handy for others to see my reply. Remember, these are just my thoughts and opinions. Others may have a different take on this. Also, as a school, we receive no income or incentive for recommending one option over another. Opting to buy a new device is only one option. You might want to check out our general guide (click here) on devices before considering a purchase.
Whilst iPads are great, they are not always the most cost effective option. In my opinion you would be better with an android tablet. We have found that when an iPad is at the end of it’s life then that’s it done. However, there are often ways to reboot an old android tablet, giving them a longer shelf life. The other up side of an Android device is Android allows you to have multiple users with separate accounts. Handy if you have different people accessing the device. You can then keep your shopping accounts/apps away from prying fingers and accidental purchases. Increasing storage with an Android device by adding an SD card is usually also an option. If you are looking at purchasing a new device, here are a few options:
- Buy the iPad, they start at about £350 for the new generation and you are familiar with the layout and will already have an account. Apple also has a well-established app store with oodles of options. Down side is you get less for your money and you can only put one account on at a time. Also, iPads do not have options to expand the internal storage by adding an SD card. Most Android tablets WILL allow you to do this up to about 128GB.
- An Amazon Fire HD (10inch) offers immense bang for your buck, as long as you are happy putting up with the Amazon adverts and branding. It runs off a version of Android. Whilst the Amazon App Store doesn’t support the installation of the Office apps directly, there is an easy workaround. (£150-ish for 10 inch and £90-ish for 8inch). Fire HDs outperform most higher specification devices, and blast the price bracket devices out of the water, see below.
- Buy a tablet with a known name. Samsung Tab A 10 inch and Lenovo Tab M10 come in under the price of an iPad and give good bang for buck, at a price that wouldn’t have you reeling if you had to replace it 2-3 years down the line if your pupil outgrows it. Either of these are great devices, but well outperformed by the Fire HD at a similar price.
- Buy laptop/PC. Investing a little bit extra (£500-ish) will get you a laptop running Windows 10 or a Chromebook running Google’s Chromium operating system. When a laptop is getting too slow to run windows, then it can be installed with Linux operating system. This is free and is what we are using to refurbish/revitalise old laptops that we get into the school. This potentially gives a laptop 5-8 years use, as opposed to 3-4 with a tablet. This makes a laptop the more future proof option. However, laptops tend not to be so robust. There are exceptions. We have HP Elitebook x360 laptops at school. They are very robust and the touchscreen can by folded back to create a tablet interface as well.
I would also suggest avoiding the new Huawei devices. These are cracking tablets at cracking prices, but Google has restricted Huawei’s access to the Google Play store recently. There are workarounds, but they are a bit of a hassle and other restrictions may follow in future from Google with fears of the Chinese backed company potentially accessing data.
If you are considering a purchase it is always worth contacting the school first. We may have reconditioned devices that can be handed out for free that would do the job.