Laptop vs tablet: which one is worth it?


Faculty: Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care
Course: BSc (Hons) Healthcare Science
Category: Allied and public health

4 January 2018

As Digital Ambassadors, we often get asked which device is more suitable for university life. It goes without saying that it depends on the subject or individual preference (I have to admit, I’m still a paper and pen kind of girl!) but there are benefits to using both, particularly for those studying health-related degrees.


Tablet with locked screen

I have been using a tablet as a lecture aid since my first year of university and have got on quite well with it. I primarily use it to access lecture slides via the virtual learning environment, CANVAS, or on campus so I can go along at my own pace and write down important notes. I’ve found it useful for quick reference of concepts I need more information on, and also to access poll websites that we sometimes use in lectures. It takes the burden off my phone battery (although I do have to charge my tablet every night which is not that helpful!).

I am not a huge fan of using my tablet to type notes, in all honesty, as I feel that the touchscreen cannot match my typing pace and the autocorrect function causes havoc in my notes. On the other hand, I have friends on my course who have produced amazing digital notes on their tablets that they are able to export online – you wouldn’t believe the market for this on the internet!


Laptop with presentation on the screen

I recently purchased a new laptop with the view that I would use it more during university in my final year, when you have to make the most of every spare moment you have.

I tried it out in a lecture earlier this semester, as I was traveling abroad after the lecture and didn’t wish to bring my notepad; I found it quite useful. I like the way that I am able to write notes faster in lectures and print them out to go into my notes.

There are similarities with laptops and tablets of course: they are both good for researching concepts in lectures that you don’t understand and accessing your lecture slides. However I find that laptops are not as discreet as a tablet and can get some opposition from lecturers (and I feel a little bit rude for using it myself). That being said, you are unlikely to have this experience, but it is something to bear in mind.

2-in-1 laptop

Handwritten student note about ECG

Convertible laptops are really the best of both worlds for the fickle minded. I happen to own one and I’m getting along well with it. I like the fact that it is touchscreen, so easy to use and also good for drawing diagrams (very useful for anatomy!). I am able to draw diagrams to complement my lecture notes.

Surprisingly, they seem to be a more budget-friendly option compared to most of the leading tablets on the market, and sometimes a lot lighter than a laptop.

Personally, for me, you can’t beat pen and paper but I incorporate both my tablet and laptop in university life for very different purposes. A laptop is invaluable for assignments and library sessions (particularly in peak times of year – you’ll appreciate it SO MUCH); whereas a tablet is a great companion for everyday lectures where you just need a resource for your lecture slides and quick research.

I definitely recommend purchasing both if it is within your budget, or a hybrid of the two. Many ARU students are lucky enough to receive funds from Books Plus to spend in the campus shop, which can be a great help with affording your university gadgets!


The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.