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).
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?