All-day battery life is perfect for a long day of class, studying, homework, and music. Features 128 GB of storage, and a 12.9-inch screen makes every pixel pop. M1 chip keeps the iPad running through heavy use. Pairs with Apple Pencil for next-level digital note-taking.
Keyboard and mouse sold separately.
Integrates with Alexa and can connect with other Amazon devices. Has a headphone jack and USB-C charging port. Expandable storage via an SD card and an ad-displaying lock screen further reduce its cost.
Works for reading, note-taking, and entertainment, but doesn't have the same breadth of features as competitors.
Gets 12 hours of use on a single charge. Works well with Samsung’s wide selection of accessories, from styluses to keyboards and a mouse. The 11-inch screen and thin body make the device easy to transport. Great option for Android users.
This model does not have an audio jack and will need to be paired with Bluetooth devices.
The 8-inch Liquid Retina Explain with True Tone colors is perfect for graphic assignments and remote learning. Touch ID helps keep the iPad secure. Has 12MP cameras on the front and back. Several color options. Stereo speakers with impressive sound.
Additional accessories will cost extra.
Sharp display and integrated pen enhance the media viewing and creating experience. Little lag while pulling up apps and remains cool even when running more intense applications. Has a headphone jack and expandable storage via an SD card.
Cannot connect to a keypad like higher-end Samsung devices.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Small size and portability are both big pluses with a tablet, especially when choosing a tablet for a college student. Tablets excel at web surfing, e-books, app usage, and streaming. A keyboard or stylus peripheral adds functionality and can be particularly good for note taking as well as art disciplines.
Tablets offer a great replacement for textbooks since downloadig is instant and often cheaper. In some cases, a tablet may offer all the technology a student needs, although some college programs insist on a laptop. Even then, a tablet is also a good bet as a supplemental tool for additional uses including social media and connectivity, like video chat. Look for a tablet with long battery life, a decent display size, and good storage space.
Before you start looking, think about how you’ll be using your tablet and what kind of tablet you want. Start by answering these questions.
Think about some of the typical tasks you’ll be doing on your tablet. If you intend to use your tablet full time as your primary device, you can do that; you’ll just need to look at the most powerful and most expensive models. If you’re getting a tablet for use as a secondary device, you can save a lot of money by looking at models with smaller screens and fewer bells and whistles.
Tablet screen sizes range anywhere from 7 to 13 inches, and the user experience can be entirely different based on what size you get. Bigger screens are also more expensive, so consider how you might want to balance price point with screen real estate. Our best advice: if you’re getting a tablet as a secondary device to your laptop, a 7- or 9.7-inch screen will work well, but if you’re getting a tablet as your primary device, a 10.5- or 12.9-inch screen is a better choice.
When you’re ready to start comparing models, start with these features to see how they stack up against one another.
While the screen size definitely determines how big your tablet is, screen resolution controls how sharp the image quality is. Some tablets with larger screens compromise on resolution, so compare the numbers when looking at different models. We recommend a minimum screen resolution of 1200 x 1800. Some premium tablets have screens with resolutions of up to 2732 x 2048.
Every tablet has a central processing unit (CPU) on board, which controls how fast it is. The problem is that tablets all use different CPUs that are hard to compare. The bottom line: pay attention to how different tablets are marketed. If you see a tablet that’s shown doing simple or passive tasks, like streaming movies or basic mobile games, it will be moderately fast. If you see a tablet that’s marketed for completing active tasks (like editing photos, creating video content, or working with spreadsheets), it will likely have a CPU on board that’s fast enough to keep up.
Consider how much space you’ll need for your apps and personal files. If you mostly use web-based services or small files, you don’t need a lot of onboard storage. On the other hand, if you want to keep a lot of your personal media on hand, or your schoolwork involves a lot of larger files, you’re going to need a lot of space. Check to see if the model you’re considering has expandable storage, and if it doesn’t, make sure to get one with enough room by default. We typically recommend starting with a minimum of 64 GB.
There are a lot of unique add-ons for tablets out there, and a lot of them are proprietary, so spend some time browsing peripherals first. Check to see if there are any official matching keyboards, styluses, or cases with unique functionality. It can add a lot of convenience.
Inexpensive: Between $50 and $200, you’ll find entry-level and mid-range Android tablets. Screen sizes tend to be smaller, although there are a few ten-inch options that are worthwhile. When it comes to tablets, inexpensive doesn’t mean cheap, so if you’re looking for a moderately powerful tablet that’s good as a secondary device, you don’t have to spend a lot.
Mid-range: Between $200 and $500, you’ll see tablets that are plenty fast and have big, beautiful screens. Models in this price range are a little fancier and come with nicer finishes. Some models even include LTE connectivity, so you can get web access without WiFi (although you’ll need a data plan from a wireless provider to do that). If you’re looking for a tablet that will last several years and has a high-quality screen, this is the price range to keep in mind.
Expensive: Between $500 and $1,400 are the tablets that strive to be laptop replacements. Models in this price range pull out all the stops: tons of onboard storage, enormous 13-inch screens, and ten-hour battery life all cost at least this much. If you’re looking for a tablet that can act as your main machine for your entire college career, this is how much you’ll need to spend.
Q. Can I use Microsoft Word on a tablet?
A. Yes! Microsoft Office apps like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint all have mobile versions that you can download to your tablet for viewing and creating work files. You’ll need to subscribe to their online service, Microsoft Office 365, to edit documents and take advantage of cloud storage, but viewing documents is typically free (and there are dozens of good third-party apps that can view files made with Office).
Q. Can I add file storage space to my tablet after I get it?
A. It depends. Android tablets usually include microSD card slots so you can add storage. Apple’s iPads cannot be upgraded beyond the storage included, although both platforms work well with cloud services that can help relieve some of the burden of local storage. If you plan on keeping your large collections of photos, music, or movies on your tablet, get one with as much built-in storage as you can just to be safe.
Q. Do tablets typically include headphones?
A. Not usually. Most tablet manufacturers expect you to bring your own headphones to the party, and some tablets don’t have headphone jacks, so you’ll need to make sure you’ve got a pair of Bluetooth headphones. It’s actually a good thing that headphones aren’t included. There are so many affordable options in different form factors, colors, and features that we recommend picking out the perfect pair separately.