As I mentioned in a previous post, one of my favorite tech (and music) bloggers, ViolaJack, has been writing a series on the use of Tablet PCs in education. So far there are four entries to the series:
Yesterday afternoon, I took my family to the Mall of America, where there is both an Apple Store and a Microsoft Store (right across the hallway from each other). My two-year-old was sleeping in a stroller (something that literally never happens), so I had an opportunity to look around the Microsoft Store.
The only tablets in the store were Asus tablets, which were available for pre-order. They were capacitive touch units, like the iPad, and worked very well (For ViolaJack, these units would be insufficient without an active pen digitizer for handwriting). The Asus units seem to ship with accessory keyboards, so they can be used as “full computers.”
The problem? Battery life on the Asus units were listed at four hours or less. Some were listed as three hours or less.
This battery life issue is crucial in education (music or otherwise). If the device cannot make it through a full day (and sometimes beyond) of use, the educational setting is then required to somehow provide power for units, or to abandon the use of technology in the classroom as soon as batteries run out. The iPad broke that “battery barrier,” and no other tablet has come close without adding significant weight and size (depth) to a tablet. Sure, the Xoom gets eight hours, which seems close to ten…but two additional hours of technology use is significant regardless of the setting. This is also why I feel that many people love the Kindle– because the battery lasts two weeks.
There are other benefits from the iOS side of the equation compared to other tablets (Android, BlackBerry and Windows 7)–but the first point of order needs to be battery life. Three or four–or even six–hours of stated battery life won’t cut it for education.