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Suggesions on tablets for use in physics classroom

  1. Oct 24, 2014 #1
    The school in which I teach is going to pilot a tablet for each student in a class next year. My physics class is going to be part of this pilot. Currently they are looking at ipad/surface/chromebook. Does anyone have input good or bad on any of these for use in class as well as with labs? Thanks for any input you can provide.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 24, 2014 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Welcome to PF!

    My first choice would be the iPad as the apps are superior right now to any android apps.

    If physics simulations are going to be run on them there are a few apps that come to mind:
    - Codea for programming on the iPad in Lua
    - Pythonista for programming in python on the iPad
    - PocketCAS for symbolic and graphical calculations.

    Other useful apps are:
    - Notability for recording lectures while taking notes, drawing sketches, reading and annotating pdfs,
    incorporating photos and other media into a notebook, exporting as pdf
    - iThoughts for creating mind maps (graphical outlines of any detail) good for organizing thoughts and ideas
    - AZUL for downloading videos to watch from youtube and other sites...
    - Garageband for creating music...
    - Apple's Pages, Numbers and Keynote for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations
    - MS has an offering here too for Office

    For an Android you could consider:
    - AIDE for writing android apps on the android tablet
    - MS Office

    For either one Unity Game Engine:
    - can develop programs that run on either iPad or Android
    - great for training simulations...
    - paid version works with Oculus Rift too...
  4. Nov 13, 2014 #3
    iPad is still king with Galaxy close behind. Stay away from Surface.
  5. Nov 13, 2014 #4


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    If you mean the Windows 8-RT Surface, I agree.
    If you mean the Windows 8 (not RT) Surface Pro, I disagree.

    Among the iPad, Chromebook, and Surface-Pro, the Surface-Pro is the most powerful since it runs Windows.
    The iPad might have a lot of cool apps... by Windows has many more applications.

    Serious computational tools like Matlab, Mathematica, Maple, LabView, etc... likely don't run on Chromebook or iPad.
    Yes, they can all access Wolfram Alpha for a quick calculation... but that's a far cry from M,M, and M.

    For Physics labs, Vernier and PASCO might have some apps that run on an iPad.... but they are mainly Windows- and Mac-based.

    Numerous Java applets and Flash-based simulations (like http://phet.colorado.edu/ and http://webphysics.davidson.edu/applets/applets.html ) don't run on the iPad. (Some PhETs are now available as HTML5 https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulations/category/html and can run on iOS.)

    The Surface-Pro and its stylus provides the only truly digital-ink-based platform among them... high-resolution, pressure-sensitivity, and digital-ink.
    (Writing on my iPad (compared to my tabletPC [like the Surface-Pro]) looks like writing with crayon (compared to like writing with a pen).)

    My iPad and iPhone are great for media consumption, navigation, quick searches on the web, and watching lectures while on the move.
    However, for production (doing handwritten calculations [and archiving and editing and re-editing them], writing papers, writing code, analyzing data, annotating and organizing papers) my tabletPC [like the Surface-Pro] is my main device.

    Granted, the Surface-Pro is the most pricey of the three... but it's not that much more.
    If I didn't have my current tabletPCs [Fujitsu and Samsung], I'd be looking at the Surface-Pro or a Lenovo.

    My undergrad research student uses a Chromebook... which might be good for many things he does.
    However, when he had to write computer programs in Python (using http://vpython.org/) for a physics project with me,
    he had to work on a desktop or on his friend's Windows-based laptop. I'm suggesting that he get a Surface Pro.
    (Seems like a deal may be coming soon: http://www.winbeta.org/news/black-f...offer-150-surface-pro-3-128gb-model-or-higher )
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2014
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