Ask LH: Which iPad Should I Choose For School?

Hi Lifehacker, My eldest child is starting high school next year and all students are required to have an iPad. The tablet will be used for text books and for taking photos and video. What’s the best choice for a student?

Mini or full size? 16Gb memory or more? And which model should I consider? The only things I’m sure about is that it has to be at least an iPad 2 (the school specifies that) and it will be Wi-Fi only (because I’m not paying for the SIM). Any suggestions? Thanks, iPad Shopper

Picture: ABC TV

Dear IS,

Our general advice when buying any new tech applies here: within the constraints of your budget, buy the absolute newest model you can. Technology changes rapidly, and buying the latest model possible at the time ensures that you maximise the period before your device goes out of date. So if you can afford it, go for the iPad Air or iPad Mini with Retina.

Which form factor? If the device really is going to be largely for textbook reading and image capture, I’d choose the Mini — it’s a more portable size. If your student doesn’t have access to a regular computer as well and it’s likely a keyboard will be added at some point, the regular 10-inch size makes more sense.

On the storage front, I’d also go for the maximum amount you can afford. You’ll sometimes hear the argument that onboard storage doesn’t matter so much when everything is stored in the cloud. However, if your child is going to be storing a lot of textbooks on the device, the space will disappear quickly (especially if the texts are in iBooks format, some of which can be massive in size). You can’t upgrade iPad storage, so you need to make the right choice the first time.

If money is tight, consider picking up a refurb model from Apple. What’s available will vary (as I write this, everything on offer includes 3G as well as Wi-Fi), but you can potentially save a lot.

If students currently rocking an iPad have additional advice, we’d love to hear it in the comments. Happy shopping!


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