Can I Turn in my Paper with Google Docs?
Of all the rants against tablets I will make in this article, the one that's most important and most applicable to student life is simple - the operating system.
Currently, there are two tablets on the market. The iPad, and everything else. The iPad runs iOS, while everything else runs Android. What you'll immediately notice about both of these operating systems is that they're not called Windows. In fact, they don't even run on the x86 processors that normal computers use.
Because of this, software that runs on a laptop or desktop PC will not run on a tablet. Period. This can be a huge problem because it prevents students from using the most well-known and widely used Office suite, Microsoft Office. While there are many Office compatible productivity apps available for both the iPad and Android tablets, including Apple's own Pages and Numbers, relying on these apps to properly display your documents can be risky business.
Everyone seems to support .doc these days, but the fact that you can save a file as .doc doesn't mean it will be properly formated when a professor opens it with his or her copy of Microsoft Office. The problem is even worse if they're using the newer versions of Office that are optimized for .docx.
That's not to say the productivity app jungle is impossible to navigate. There are certainly ways to create documents on a tablet, and there are ways to make them compatible with a PC and properly display. However, these are extra steps that are both cumbersome and unnecessary.
And heaven help the student who's given software from a profession for a class assignment. I had this happen several times in lab classes, where software was used to simulate and/or demonstrate experiments that aren't practical for undergrads to perform. While most campuses have computer labs readily available, why even purchase a tablet if you'll have to spend time in a lab? Just save the money and spend it on beer groceries. The $500 entry-level price of an iPad will buy a lot of Milwaukee's Best nutritious vegetables.