Today WCET Frontiers welcomes Dr. Robbie Melton, Associate Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs, with the Tennessee Board of Regents, eLearning Initiative, as a guest blogger.  In the following post she shares with us the research she conducted on the top educational mobile devices.  The following is not an endorsement but rather information to help you, our members and readers, determine which mobile device is right for your needs. 

Happy Holidays. This is the season for purchasing mobile devices.

overwhelmed by devices by lukew on flickr cropped
Feeling overwhelmed by the choices for mobile devices for learning?

To assist you in purchasing a mobile device I have researched and outlined the top two – three ranking mobile devices for iOS-Apple, Androids, Windows8.1 and eReaders.

Best Tablets of 2013 Holiday Season Tested by Consumer Reports: (video)

*Apple iPadAir and Mini
Consumer Reports’ highest score for any tablet ever (2013). Consumer Reports just completed testing it and found plenty to like. Weighing in at just a pound, and with a super slender profile, the iPad Air is the lightest full-sized tablet tested. That makes it easy to hold for reading or watching movies. “Even though Apple made the iPad Air thinner and lighter, they didn’t sacrifice screen quality at all. This screen looks just as good as the screen on the iPad 4,” said Donna Tapellini with Consumer Reports. The Mini with the new retina display starts at $399. The iPad Air with 4G earned starts at $629 and at $500 for Wi-Fi only.
**Note: Apple devices (iPads, iPodTouches, iPhones) have the largest collection of educational and workforce mobile apps from preschool to college to the world of work.

*The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 Tablet is one of the best tablets according to CNET thanks to its brilliant display and ultra-sharp 2560 x 1600 resolution (339 PPI) display that’s been winning raves as the current best-in-class display for a tablet. The Amazon tablet itself is also compact and very light — weighing less than Apple’s iPad Air — but still performs well thanks to a quad-core processor. Plus, for those who are new to tablets, Amazon has included a unique ‘Mayday’ button. Tap it and within 15 seconds, an Amazon support rep will appear in a small video chat window to help out. The service is available 24/7, 365 days of the year. And it’s free, making this the best tablet to buy for beginners. Starts at $379.

WINDOWS 8.1: Business Tablets Comparison: Dell Venue 11 Pro vs. Surface Pro 2: The Best Windows 8.1 Tablets for Business:

*Dell Venue 8 Pro II: With the Venue 11 Pro, Dell has a Surface Pro 2 competitor on its hands. The company says its 10.8-inch tablet has “the power of an Ultrabook, performance of a desktop, portability of a tablet”. Like Microsoft’s “lappable” tablet, the Venue 11 Pro sports a Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS display and will be offered with Intel’s Atom quad-core Bay Trail processors or a fourth-generation Haswell processor up to Core i5 — supporting up to 8GB RAM, 256GB of storage, WiDi and NFC. From a design perspective, the Venue 11 Pro is unremarkable but practical, with Dell opting for a generic form factor that includes a full-size USB port, HDMI port and a microSD card slot. Venue 11 Pro features a matte-textured rear, which allows for a firm grip in the hand but is a magnet for greasy fingerprints. Listening to feedback from its enterprise customers, Dell will ship the Venue 11 Pro with a removable battery — which will give around 10 hours of sustained usage — allowing you to hot-swap if you’re far from a charging point. Starting at $499

*Microsoft Windows 8.1: Surface Pro 2: This Microsoft tablet boasts an Intel (INTC) Core i5-4200U processor commonly found in Ultrabooks. So the Surface Pro 2 is one of the best tablets because it’s nearly 10% faster than the original and outclasses Windows 8 Pro tablets from competitors like Sony (SNE) and Asus. Anyone who wants to replace their laptop with something more portable (at 2 pounds, the Surface Pro 2 is light vs. laptops) while being able to set the keyboard aside and use the device purely as a Windows 8 tablet will appreciate what the Surface Pro 2 has to offer. Add in the ability to run Windows 8 PC software (including the Microsoft Office suite), a USB port for connecting peripherals, a full range of accessories (including a dock, wireless keyboard covers, mice and stylus) and the ability to stack the specs with up to 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage … and the Surface Pro 2 is difficult to beat when looking for the best tablet for business use. Plus, this top tablet just got even better with a recent firmware update. The Surface Pro 2 got a 20% boost in battery life, so you can now squeak seven to eight hours out of a charge. Starting at $899.


Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1: Consumer Reports recommends the newest version of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. “What’s unique about it is it comes with a stylus and a set of apps that works specifically with that stylus. The stylus is pretty advanced, and it allows you to do things like write notes within an app or draw graphics. Another interesting feature is it allows you to run two apps at the same time on the display. It starts at $550.

**2014 Best eBook Reader Reviews and Comparisons (all devices)

Here are the top ranking eReaders according to TechMedia Network (2013)

*Kindle PaperWhite: The Verdict: 9.63/10
Delivering convenience and readability that far surpasses most competitors, the Kindle Paperwhite is a fantastic eReader for booklovers. Pros: The Kindle Paperwhite boasts adjustable edge-lighting and a crisp, white E-ink display that enable comfortable reading in any environment. It also integrates with the best eBook store in the business. Cons: Lacking a headphone jack, it doesn’t support audiobooks. $119.

*Nook GlowLight: The Verdict: 9.4/10
Pros: The rounded edges and rubber coating make this reader very comfortable to use. Cons: You will not be able to listen to audiobooks with this device. $119.

*Google Nexus 7: The best 7-inch eReader and Tablet is the new Google Nexus 7 accou. The original quickly sold out and the 2013 version is even better. The Nexus tablet is a compact powerhouse with a razor sharp display.. As a Google device, it’s also a showcase for the latest Android operating system, with no third party UIs or overlays to complicate things. Mobile gaming is one of the most popular uses for a tablet and the Google Nexus 7 has the power of a quad core Qualcomm (QCOM) Snapdragon S4 processor, a 323 PPI display, up to 10 hours of battery life and access to all the games on Google Play. Combined with its size, the powerful specs make it a portable gaming natural and one of the best tablets to buy this holiday.

Robbie K. Melton, Ph.D. Associate Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs, eLearning
Robbie K. Melton, Ph.D.
Associate Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs, eLearning

Photo credit: Luke Wroblewski on Flickr.


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