digital learning 2016

INFORMATION BOOKLET -  BUYING A TABLET FOR YOUR CHILD AT KHS? HERE IS WHAT MATTERS (AND WHAT DOESN’T)

 

Version 5.0

 

MINIMUM AND PREFERRED REQUIREMENTS FOR TABLETS USED AT KHS

 

 

Android Jelly Bean  (Android 4.1;  Android 4.2;  Android 4.3)

Android KitKat  (Android 4.4)

Android Lollipop  (Android 5.0;  Android 5.1)

Android Marshmallow  (Android 6.0)

 

If you buy an Apple tablet (I-Pad), then the operating system should be updated to the latest IOS (internal operating system), which at present is Version 9.1.  This can be done free of charge via Wi-Fi (Wide Fidelity, or cordless network access).

 

Microsoft tablets that have Windows 8.0 or later are normally very expensive but may be bought, should parents so desire.  Please ensure that all drivers are available before enabling the free update to Windows 10. Windows 10 is not required for school use.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REMEMBER THE FOLLOWING

 

 

 

 

 

SO WHAT DOES ALL THAT JARGON MEAN?

 

From mega pixels to battery life to pixel density, there are all sorts of specifications for every tablet on the market. But which ones matter, and which should you ignore?

 

Here are 9 popular tablet specs, each followed by a verdict on how much they should factor into your purchase decision, keeping in mind that this will be used by your child at school, for text books and all additional content (pictures, movie clips, resource material, additional notes and explanations, lesson plans, etc.) that educators might add to the text books to make the (often boring) school work more visual and easier to understand and remember.  Please remember as well that the tablet will take the place of most text books and printed notes at school.  That means that your child will be staring at the screen for hours at a time.  However, your child will still need exercise books in which to write, and all tests and examinations will still be written on (old-fashioned) paper, using a pencil and a pen.

 

  1. Processor Speed

Of all the popular tablet specs, processor speed is probably the least important.  Measured in gigahertz (GHz), a tablet’s processor speed tells you how many instructions the device can carry out per second.  The problem?  Tablet processors vary significantly from one product to the next, from the architecture of the internals to the way the hardware interacts with the software.  Depending on the specific devices you’re comparing, a 1.4 GHz tablet can sometimes outperform a 2.2 GHz alternative. 

 Verdict: Ignore.

 

  1. Mega pixels

Tablet makers love to slap big bright mega pixel (MP) counts on their boxes, knowing most customers will be drawn toward a device with a great camera.  Unfortunately, there are several problems with MP counts.  First, there’s the (now well-known) fact that mega pixels don’t tell you much about actual photo quality…only how many total pixels there are per shot.  Next, there’s the question of daily use.  How important are the pictures your child will take with the fancy camera the tablet may have?  Finally, consider that most tablets have two cameras, one on the front and one on the back.  Manufacturers love to quote the rear-camera mega pixels, but the front-camera is almost always worse.

 Verdict: Give it a quick glance, but nothing more.

 

  1. Thickness of tablets

When Apple announced the iPad Air 2, they couldn’t wait to tell the world how thin it was.  They’ve got reason to be proud: at 0.24 inches, it’s tied for the thinnest tablet of the last two years (matched only by the original Sony Xperia Z).  But thinness is more about marketing than real-world use, and you shouldn’t get too tied up in the exact thickness. Anything under 0.35 inches (0.9 cm) should be thin enough.

 Verdict: Don’t get swept up in the hype – just ignore.

 H

4.         Wireless Carrier

How important is it really for your child to have full internet connectivity on a tablet that will (hopefully) be used mainly for study purposes?  Anyway, isn’t it far easier, faster (and cheaper) to use your ADSL connection at home to browse the web and access Facebook, especially since Educators will download relevant resource material from the Internet and save it on the School servers, which your child will be able to access at any time without having access to the world-wide web?

 Verdict: Think hard before you spend an extra amount of money (plus a monthly connection and data fee) on a cellular-equipped model.

 

5.         Random-access Memory (RAM)

    RAM can have a huge effect on how smoothly your tablet runs: it’s arguably more important than the speed of your processor and the number of cores that it has.  It’s a space for your tablet to store things in the short-term. This could be data that you’re currently working on, or information that  you’re likely to need very soon.  The more RAM a tablet has, the more responsive it will be in performing the tasks you need it to do. When you don’t have enough, you’ll find loading and closing applications (apps), as well as switching apps, to be sluggish.

The best way of thinking about RAM is to think of it as the equivalent of your brain’s short term memory.  Like the brain’s short term memory, RAM is very easy to access and is fast.  However, data doesn’t stay there very long – after a while it’ll be replaced with something else.

This is in contrast to internal storage and Micro SD card storage.  These are equivalent to your brain’s long-term memory: there’s a much bigger capacity and any data that’s stored there will last for a long time.  However, it can take longer to access this information. More RAM gives a subtle benefit in any single instance, but it quickly adds up.  A tablet with 1 GB (1024 MB) or more RAM should be suffice. Less than 1 GB RAM can be a problem.  2 GB RAM or more is far better.

 

Verdict: Pay more attention to this than you might think…and get 2 GB RAM or more if you can.

 

6.         Battery Life

Battery life is the single biggest shortcoming for mobile devices today.  Every year, we see incredible advancements in graphics, display quality and user interface, and yet the very best tablets can barely make it through three hours on a single charge. The problem is that it’s also the least precise of all manufacturer-quoted specifications.  When a tablet maker says the device is 0.25 inches thick, we can trust them.  When the same company says their tablet will last 10 hours, there is all sorts of wiggle room, based on a combination of the manufacturer’s biases and your personal use habits.  So take a glance at the manufacturer-reported battery life, but remain somewhat skeptical.  When you see “10 hours,” assume that means, “probably more than 6 but usually no more than 12.”

 

 

 

 

 

A final note: the thicker a tablet is, the more battery juice the manufacturer can fit in the device.  This doesn’t mean you should blindly opt for a thicker tablet, but it is one more reason why manufacturers might consider focusing more on battery life and less on razor-thin hardware design.

 

Krugersdorp High School requires a tablet to have at least six hours of battery life.

 

Verdict: Make sure to check this, but stay skeptical, and treat it as a broad estimate.

 

7.         Pixel Density of the Display

With pixel density, we’re getting into the real make-or-break specs.  Four years ago, pixel density was more a term for geeks and sticklers, the sort of people who were snobby enough to notice this stuff.  Today, the general public has caught on, and everyone wants to know if the tablet will have a crisp enough display.  The good news is that the industry is moving toward higher pixel counts at a

rapid pace, so in two years, you may not have to think about this anymore.  The bad news is that today, there’s still a mix of low- and high-density options, and if you’re not careful, you’ll snap up a device with a display that looks like it’s from 2007.  For tablets, more than 300 pixels per inch (PPI) is very crisp.  Between 250 and 300 PPI is still solid.  Once you go below 200 PPI, you’ll really start to notice how pixilated the screen looks: less crisp, less sharp, less easy to read.

 

Verdict: Make sure the display is at least 250 PPI.

 

8.         Internal Storage (ROM)

Like pixel density, total storage is increasing slowly in base-model tablets.  The problem is that many devices still start with just 4 GB ROM (read-only memory) for the lowest-end model.  Your child will need to have all his text books saved on the tablet, as well as all the movie clips, photographs, additional study material, additional notes, etc.  Modern cameras take top-notch photos and videos, which means large file sizes - far larger than the same photos and videos from four years ago.  This means that the once-adequate 4 GB of space is now too small, even for casual users.  The easy solution is to pay a bit more for 32 or 64 GB of space, enough so you don’t have to worry about quickly running out of space.  Almost every tablet comes with multiple storage options, so pay attention to the model you’re buying. That extra amount might hurt today, but you’ll be happy you splurged when your child does not come to you, complaining that the memory is “full”! 

Verdict: Don’t get a 4 GB model.  Krugersdorp High School requires a minimum of 8 GB, but consider going up to 64 GB.

 The most important factor of all, a tablet's screen determines all sorts o things about the device.

9.         Screen SiThe most important factor of all, a tablet’s screen determines all sorts of things about the device.  

Here are a few tips for picking the right size.

7 to 8 inches – The Leisure Device

If you’re buying a tablet mostly to read books, browse the web, and check personal email in the evenings, this is an acceptable, though not great, choice. A tablet in this range tends to be convenient (fits in a purse or large pocket), easy to hold for hours (great for books), and extremely portable (take it on vacations).  However, by looking at such a small screen for hours on end (think of exam preparation) it could lead to severe eye strain and headaches.

 9 to 11 inches – The Jack of All Trades

The classic size tablets in this range tend to do a little bit of everything, while excelling at nothing. They’re pretty good for watching video, reading books and for studying purposes.  This is also the minimum size recommended by KHS.  Then again, they can be surprisingly cumbersome in bed and they aren’t quite big enough to replace your primary work computer.  If you’re unsure, get a tablet in this range, but if you have specific needs, chances are the next category will be better.

Over 11 inches – The Productivity Beast

Popularized by the Microsoft Surface, the productivity-focused tablet is made to replace your laptop. Whether it actually accomplishes this feat is still a debate, but if that’s what you’re hoping to do, make sure to grab something in the 12- to 14-inch range.  Alongside the Surface, Samsung’s 12.2-inch Note and Pro tablets are also solid choices.

 Verdict: Two inches of screen real estate can fundamentally change your child’s tablet experience, so pay close attention.

POSSIBLE OPERATING SYSTEMS FOR TABLETS

When deciding what tablet to get, you first need to decide what OS (operating system) you’d prefer.  There are four options, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.  Below you’ll find a summary of these: 

  1. Apple iOS

 The iPad is the most popular tablet, and it runs Apple’s own iOS (Internal Operating System).  This is easy to learn and use, and there is a truly massive selection of third-party software for it — over a million apps, in fact — in categories from productivity to games.

 There are just two screen sizes to choose from, however. Full-size iPads have a 9.7-inch display, while the iPad mini models have 7.9-inch ones.

The iOS is somewhat limited when compared to a desktop operating system.  For example, there is no universal file browser.  Rather than a central repository of files, each application has its own collection.

The release of Microsoft Office for iPad made this tablet a good option for business people who need a light-duty mobile computer, and many use it as a laptop alternative.  It is not a good option for people who need specialized applications not available for this OS, however.

  1. Google Android

 Android is also a fairly easy to learn operating system, but it’s not as polished as iOS, nor is it quite as easy to use.

 Quite a few companies make tablets that run Google’s Android OS, including Samsung, Sony, Lenovo, Acer, LG  and many more.  This gives shoppers a wide array of devices to choose from, with screen sizes ranging from 6 inches to 13 inches.

Several companies offer 7-inch Android-based models that are around R2000-00 or less, and there are even some super-cheap models that sell for under R1000-00.

Like the iOS, Android was first created for smart phones.  This means it is a bit more limited than a desktop operating system, but it is still more flexible than Apple’s offering.

While there is a huge selection of Android apps, only a small percentage of these have been formatted to run on large, high-resolution screens.  Still, these smart phone apps look fine on smaller tablets.

 This OS a good choice for someone who is looking for a tablet to access the Web or their email on the road, and the release of Microsoft Office for Android tablets helped make it suitable for light business users, but those needing a very powerful mobile computer should look elsewhere.

 When purchasing an Android tablet, ensure that the operating system is one of the following (later is better):

 Ice Cream Sandwich  (Android 4.0)

Jelly Bean  (Android 4.1;  Android 4.2;  Android 4.3)

KitKat  (Android 4.4)

Lollipop  (Android 5.0;  Android 5.1)

Marshmallow  (Android 6.0)  (released on 14 October 2015)

  1. Microsoft Windows 8/10

 Windows 8 is far and away the most powerful operating system available for tablets today.  This is the full version of Windows that people have been using on PCs for decades, but the latest version was modified by Microsoft for touch screen-based devices.  The change to the “Metro” UI (user interface) has been controversial, but the UI is well suited for tablets.

 It can run all the legacy software that was created for Windows 7 and earlier versions.  However, much of this hasn’t been modified to be touch-friendly, so a stylus or a mouse is sometimes necessary – something which is impossible with most tablets.  A number of well-known companies offer tablets with Windows 8, giving shoppers a range of options.  There are 8-inch models with Atom processors and decent performance available for under R4000, but Windows tablets with the best performance are among the most expensive on the market.  This is really the only option for those who want to do heavy-duty computing on a tablet, but it could be overkill for everyone else, including learners.  Perhaps the best Windows tablet on the market is the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, but those looking for a lower cost option could consider its sister model, the Surface 3.

For the next year or so the software can be updated free of charge via the internet to Windows 10, provided that you are the owner of the software (and have the serial number) of either Windows 7 or Windows 8

  1. Microsoft Windows RT

Microsoft created Windows RT as an alternate version of Windows 8.  It doesn’t use x86 processors but rather ARM-based ones, which are less expensive and use less power.  But this means that devices that run WinRT cannot run legacy Windows software — it is limited to the software that comes on the device plus the extremely limited selection of apps that appear in the Microsoft Windows Store.  Microsoft’s experiment with this OS does not appear to have been a success.  No new models running it have been released in many months, but the older models can still be found in stores at low prices.  WinRT can be a decent OS for light duty use, but considering that this OS is quickly becoming obsolete there are better options for this. 

Should you require any further information, please feel free to contact the School directly on 011-954-1009 or email Mr Bokhorst on RBokhorst@krugersdorphigh.co.za or Mrs Jooste-Coetsee on LJooste-Coetsee@krugersdorphigh.co.za .