Why cheap tablets are the best gadgets for students

If you’re a student looking to buy a new gadget, you’ve probably seen lots of people trying to talk you into buying the newest super-expensive laptop or tablet for work.

And if you’ve just won the lottery, maybe those are good suggestions. But otherwise, you don’t need to buy the MacBook Pro M2 or Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra – no, if you’re on your way to uni, you only really need to buy a cheap tablet.

Usually, ‘best X for students’ guides list all the priciest products – but I got through my degree with the cheapest thing I could find, and I’m here to tell you that you can do the same too.

What you need for your education

I should preface this advice by saying that, while it applies to most people, there are always exceptions to the rule. Some people, particularly ones in tech or engineering-focused courses, may actually need a powerful slate. Others might not need a gadget at all. But for the vast majority of us, you’ll need anything that works fine.

The key function that unites all students’ needs is word processing – you need to be able to type notes in lectures, and write out essays in the library (or, more realistically, student bar). The ability to free-draw is important for many too, in case you need to take hand-written notes or sketch for your courses.

The device needs to be okay for watching movies in bed and playing music in your room, too. It’s got to be good not just for work, but for play as well.

But for those functions, literally any device with a screen works fine – maybe you’ll want to buy a keyboard or stylus too, but that’s optional. You don’t need to spend $1,000+ when a $100+ does the trick.

That brings us to the other key feature that’s on most students’ top features list: a low price.

Cheap is the most important adjective

Unless things have changed massively in the three years since I graduated, money is the first thing on any student’s mind (far ahead of ‘the degree’, and just beyond ‘where shall we go out tonight’).

You’re always planning to go out to the cheapest bar, planning evenings where you can spend as little money as possible, trying to finagle the cheapest home-cooked meals (no matter how weird it’d sound to a non-student – I became a fan of baked beans and spaghetti for a while).

iPad 2018

(Image credit: Future)

Most students are living with their bank accounts sitting perilously close to ‘zero’, and even when student finance payments come in, that usually quickly goes towards rent, bills and the essentials for class. This is the case even for students like me, who worked a job while studying.

With that in mind, how many students have enough money to buy expensive laptops or tablets? Who can afford devices with ‘Pro’ in the name, or a fancy MacBook, as well as all the accessories necessary?

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From burgers to gadgets, stressed consumers buy cheap

NEW YORK/LONDON, July 26 (Reuters) – Some global consumers are showing signs of cracking, as shoppers stressed by record inflation stick to buying basics like food, bleach and cheap burgers, while those with bigger bank accounts are snapping up $3,000 Louis Vuitton handbags.

Investors are closely watching second quarter corporate results for signs economies are headed toward a recession. But so far consumers are sending mixed signals. There is weakness seen in those that have been hit hardest by record fuel and food prices. Meanwhile, credit card and other data shows some are still spending on travel and other high-end pursuits. read more

Walmart (WMT.N) sounded a warning shot on Monday, issuing a rare profit warning. Its US customers, who tend to come from lower-income households, are buying food and other essentials while skipping aisles filled with clothes and sporting goods. read more

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“The results overnight indicate that the US consumer is now much more focused on the staples element of shopping where we’ve got double-digit food inflation coming through in some of these retailers,” said Nicola Morgan-Brownsell, fund manager at Legal & General Investment Management.

US consumer confidence fell for a third straight month in July amid persistent worries about higher inflation and rising interest rates. read more

Sales at luxury group LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE (LVMH.PA) climbed 19% in the second quarter, slightly lower than earlier this year. Handbag and high-end liquor sales in Europe and the United States helped offset slowdowns stemming from COVID-19 lockdowns in China. read more

And payment processor Visa (VN) said cross-border volume jumped 40% reflecting a summer travel boom and some consumer resilience. read more

But softer consumer demand hits video gaming revenue at Xbox maker Microsoft (MSFT.O), which posted a 7% drop in Xbox-related revenue and expects a further contraction this quarter. Microchip maker Texas Instruments (TXN.O) saw weaker demand from consumers for personal electronics.


Consumer giants Coca Cola Co (KO.N), McDonald’s Corp (MCD.N) and Unilever Plc (ULVR.L) all said on Tuesday that their products are still selling, even at higher prices.

Unilever, which has 400 brands including Hellmann’s mayonnaise, Knorr stock cubes and Domestos bleach, raised its full-year sales guidance after beating first-half underlying sales forecasts as it hiked prices. read more

So far consumers are buying, but there is a question around how long that can last.

“We see price increases when we go out to do a weekly shop. The question is: how much more accepting can the consumer be on those price increases?” said Ashish Sinha, portfolio manager at Unilever and Reckitt (RKT.L) shareholder Gabelli.

McDonald’s which operates nearly 40,000 restaurants, said its global same-store sales jumped almost 10%, much better than the expectation for an increase of 6.5%. read more

Even so, the Chicago-based company said it is considering whether to add more discounted menu options because soaring inflation, particularly in Europe, is leading some lower-income consumers to “trade-down” to

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