The Apple iPad has become an innovative and popular tool used in more and more classrooms throughout the country. However, not all schools can afford the high per-unit costs of iPads for their students. Even though Apple has over 90 percent of the classroom tablet market, according to the Hechinger Report, there are still quite a few efficient alternatives available for a fraction of the cost.
Samsung Galaxy Note
Perhaps the closest competitor available to the Apple iPad in today’s tablet market is the Samsung Galaxy Note. In addition to its lightweight design and 10-inch screen, the Samsung Galaxy also matches the iPad when it comes to the 16 gigabytes (GB) of internal storage. An added bonus is that, with the use of microSD cards, students can expand the memory of the Galaxy Note far beyond the boundaries of the Apple iPad.
In addition, the Samsung Galaxy Note comes with a wide variety of applications, such as S Educate, that make it easy to create an environment of interactive teaching and instruction between teachers and their students. To keep the core of the traditional notebook experience, students can use the provided stylus pens to record notes and access various programs.
Microsoft Surface Tablet
Even though the Samsung Galaxy Note is a top competitor to the Apple iPad, the Microsoft Surface tablet is quickly racing towards the front of the line as well. Microsoft developed the Surface tablet more like a miniature computer instead of a standard tablet. It comes with their leading productivity suite software, Microsoft Home and Student, as well as provides students with direct access to their standard operating system and applications.
The Microsoft Surface tablet is still able to match its competitors in such areas as internal storage and screen size. However, its lightweight design also comes with a HD video out port, a microSD slot and a top-notch processor used in many Windows laptops.
Samsung Nook Tablet
The Samsung Nook Tablet is an excellent alternative to the iPad. Available for a base price of $179.99, the tablet gives you $200 worth of content free. The Samsung Nook Tablet Boasts of a crisp 7-inch LCD display, which beautifully renders movies, eBooks and games alike.
The tablet is excellent for anyone looking for an affordable yet quality tablet and is best suited for students and avid readers. Nook has an extensive collection of eBooks, movies and games to suit all needs. Students will specifically find the 32GB expandable memory very helpful and the 10 hours of battery backup should be good for an entire day at school.
Dell Latitude Tablet
Another iPad alternative used within the classroom efficiently programmed and designed to function more like a laptop is the Dell Latitude tablet. Dell developers took the same quality performance and internal components of their Dell Latitude laptops and used those to create the Latitude tablet.
Even though the Dell Latitude tablet does not come with its own educational suite, students and teachers receive direct access to Windows software packages and applications. Along with its dual-core processor and lightweight design, the internal storage of 64 GB makes this a solid investment. However, its associated price tag is relatively close to the average price of most comparable iPad tablets.
Unlike many other tablets on the market, including the iPad, the Amplify Tablet was designed specifically for educational purposes. The complete Amplify suite comes with a wide variety of assessment and curriculum tools for students and teachers alike to use easily, according to the New York Times.
Parents will not have to worry about leaving their children exposed to the adult websites through the tablet due to the web filtering system built within the tablet. With over 16 gigabytes of internal memory and a host of Android-powered applications, the Amplify tablet is a competitive option to consider for students of all ages and grade levels.
Another tablet specifically designed for classroom instruction is the LearnPad tablet. This particular solution comes fully equipped with a cloud-based management portal and content store, which makes it relatively simple for teachers to deliver instruction and curriculum standards to their students digitally.
Instead of paying recurring charges and other ongoing expenses associated with long-term use, according to TeachThought, schools interested in using LearnPad tablets will only need to focus on the initial, upfront
cost of each tablet. Like the Samsung Galaxy Note, the LearnPad tablet can also have its memory expanded simply by inserting a microSD card into the provided slot.
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX
One of the most affordable iPad alternatives available for use in the classroom is the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX tablet. In the standard consumer market, the Amazon Kindle Fire is not very competitive when compared to the Apple iPad due to its limited capabilities.
However, within the classroom, it is a solid investment choice and an efficient yet affordable tool. Amazon has developed the Whispercast program specifically for schools to stay connected safely to the Internet for their students, according to their official website.
In addition to blocking unauthorized content easily, this program allows students to easily access digital books and customized Android applications. Neither of the Kindle Fire HDX models comes with a 10-inch screen. However, for educational purposes, the seven or nine-inch models should work just fine.
The Bottom Line
When shopping for tablets for classroom use, it is important to pay close attention to the studies that apply to all tablets – not just the Apple iPad. More than 60 percent of high school seniors and college students are able to increase the efficiency of their studying habits and classroom performance by using tablets as learning tools, according to the Pearson Foundation.