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Back to School Guide 2013: Tablets

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The following post is sponsored by Best Buy. Head over to Best Buy for your back to school needs.

No, the leaves aren’t on the ground yet – though before you know it you’ll be back behind a desk day-in and day-out again. Yes, back to school season is upon us, and we’re here to make sure that it’s as enjoyable and productive as possible, especially when it comes to using the best technology. We recently brought you our Back to School Guide for Mini Tablets, and now it’s time to deliver on the big boys: full-sized tablets in a gamut of ranges.

Today, you can easily get by with a tablet that doubles as a laptop, and that’s why you’re going to see a few of these in the roundup. There are great tablets with mobile operating systems, such as the iPad, but also others with full versions of Windows 8 and Office on them, which could be great for use in the classroom. Let’s take a look at some of your best options now.

Fourth Generation Apple iPad with Retina Display

We would be amiss without mentioning Apple’s fourth generation iPad in our back to school list. The catch? Apple is expected to refresh the device later this fall and may offer a new model with a thinner body, updated internals and more. Even still, the iPad is an excellent choice. There are no shortage of accessories for adding a keyboard to create documents, there are more than 250,000 iPad apps available, and classrooms across the country already support the device. The iPad packs a dual-core A6X processor, a large 9.7-inch display with a super sharp 2,048 x 1,536-pixel resolution,  a 5-megapixel iSight camera and a 1.2-megapixel FaceTime HD camera for staying in touch with the folks back home, and much more.

Samsung ATIV Q

The Samsung ATIV Q is a bit of a wild card because it isn’t out yet, but we expect it to hit the market right around the time school starts. It’s noteworthy because it runs both a full version of Windows 8 and Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. You can switch between the two operating systems on the fly, which makes it the best tablet for those who like both options. Other features include an amazing 13.3-inch 3,200 x 1,800-pixel display, a unique keyboard that slides out from behind the device, a microSD card slot for adding storage on top of the 128GB already available, an Intel Core i5 processor, a USB 2.0 port, a USB 3.0 port, microHDMI, an Ethernet jack and more. Oh, and an S Pen stylus for taking notes! Yes, this thing is fully loaded.

Nexus 10

Google already confirmed that it will refresh the Nexus 10, but it hasn’t yet. Even still, it’s one of our favorite full-sized Android tablets available and it’s being updated to the latest Android 4.3 operating system release. That means you can control different profiles – should you want to share it with your roommate for example – and it still offers great specs. It packs a high-end 10-inch display with a 2,560 x 1,600-pixel resolution, a dual-core A15 processor, a 5-megapixel camera, a 1.9-megapixel front-facing camera, 16GB or 32GB of storage, 2GB of RAM, NFC, microUSB, microHDMI and a massive 9,000mAh battery. If you want the latest and greatest from Android, look no further than the Nexus 10.

Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2

The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 is still one of our favorite Windows 8 tablets. It’s equipped with a 10.1-inch display with a 1,366 x 768-pixel resolution, an Intel Atom Z2760 processor, 64GB of expandable storage, 2GB of RAM, a USB 2.0 port, a mini HDMI port, a microSD card slot, GPS, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and more. Its optional Bluetooth keyboard is amazing, too, and offers a nub mouse control so that you don’t need to add an external mouse. The full version of Windows 8 means you can run x86 applications instead of mobile apps, too. Toss in a full version of Microsoft Office 365 and you have yourself an amazing machine for both work and play.

Asus VivoTab Smart

The Asus VivoTab Smart is a good option if the ThinkPad Tablet 2 doesn’t fit your fancy. It offers a 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor, 2GB of RAM, a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, an 8-megapixel rear camera, 64GB of expandable storage, a 10.1-inch display with a 1,366 x 768-pixel resolution, a USB 2.0 port, HDMI-out, a full version of Windows 8 for running x86-based applications, GPS and more. Even better, it comes in at $450 from Best Buy, which is cheaper than a lot of competitors. If you want to get some serious typing done, consider the optional TransSleeve Keyboard, which serves as a stand, a keyboard and a cover for your tablet.


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Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...


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