The time has come to start working on those back-to-school shopping lists, and if technology's on that list, the NY1 Tech Report will help you decide whether a student in your life should head back to class packing a laptop or a tablet. NY1's Adam Balkin filed the following report.
Believe it or not, there was a time when pencils comprised the bulk of back to school shopping. Now, of course, the focus has shifted to electronic devices.
But only if it was that simple. As a parent or student today, there are so many choices. The primary one is over which form factor to get. Is a laptop still the go-to workhorse, or will one of the growing number of sophisticated tablets do?
"I do think that students need a full-fledged laptop or a full-fledged computer," says K.T. Bradford of digitaltrends.com. Tablets are great, and Windows 8 tablets are even better, say, than the iPad or something with Android on it because they do give you a full-fledged operating system. But the thing is, if you buy a Windows 8 tablet and you buy a keyboard to go with it and you buy a mouse, and suddenly, you've already spent what you need to spend on a laptop."
For younger students, tablets, especially one you may already own, will do just fine. But some industry watchers say that the feel of those tablet keyboards just isn't quite there yet for big-time high school or college projects.
"They're good keyboard accessories, but they're not as good as the tried-and-true keyboard experience, touchpad experience that you're going to get from a laptop," says Sherri Smith of Laptop Magazine.
If you're really stuck, there are also those relatively new so-called "convertibles" that easily change from a laptop into a tablet.
If you're a parent, at this point, you could be excused for experiencing some severe sticker shock. But on the bright side, all this technology might not cost quite as much as you think it will.
For starters, most manufacturers do offer student discounts, so hunt those down. And Microsoft is helping you enlist help from friends and relatives.
"If you want to, you can crowdsource your PC," says Kristina Libby of Microsoft. "So we've set up this website, it's called windowschipin.com. Students go in, they sign in, they select a PC, sign in to your Facebook account, and then you send it out to your friends and family to ask them to chip in as well."
To make sure no one cheats the system, all those student discount programs will require some sort of proof that the person buying it is, in fact, currently enrolled in school.