Weighing up the Best one to device for students


So, your school wants to find a Sub $400 one to one device as a one stop solution that offers great cloud storage and productivity tools suitable for teenage students.

Hopefully, you have already made the decision around what platform and learning goals you are hoping to achieve and have looked at Google Apps for Education, Office 365 and now Apple's iWork suite as the best tool to drive your learning goals.

The bad news is that you are not going to find a simple solution to very complex marketing battle in which Microsoft, Google and Apple’s exclusivity of products means there is no one size fits all solution in devices in this price range. 

All three platforms we are examining have been built from the ground up to support their own eco-system, and each of these heavy weights have also made some very deliberate decisions not to release a high quality experience of their own product on their competitors devices.  It seems none of the big three want to give up home court advantage to their premium apps and services.

Let’s take a look at the three main contenders in this space and weigh up the pro’s and cons of each in terms of our original criteria.

Apple iPad $396 – 16 gig iPad 2


  • Massive and established App store
  • iTunes U, ibooks, textbooks
  • Great Hardware
  • New iWork suite looks great on the iPad


  • Google Apps for Education is a terrible experience on the iPad unless you only want to create spreadsheets and word processing documents.
  • No office
  • iCloud – Expensive and unmanageable from a school perspective.

Surface RT $399 with touch cover included


  • Full Microsoft Office Suite and office 365
  • Full Google Apps Experience through internet Explorer
  • Skydrive works well
  • Rock solid hardware - by far the most durable of the three


  • Windows 8 can be a bitter pill to swallow for some.
  • Terrible App Store options
  • Google Chromebook $248 Samsung 11.6 inch

    • This machine was built for Chrome and Google Apps.
    • Google Apps admin management from a school perspective like nothing else.
    • Maturing App store and useful selection of Chrome extensions.
    • Price - Nearly half the price of it's competitors


    • If it happens outside the browser it doesn’t happen here. – For some this will be a killer, for others not so bad.
    • Hardware is made to a budget.  Do not ask more than 2 years out of these little fellas. 

    So what are your options?

    If your school eats and breathes Google Apps then the chromebook is a clear winner due to price and simplicity.

    The iPad really becomes a stretch for teens to use as a productivity tool, but the new iWork suite may be the solution we are all waiting for here.

    And Microsoft’s Surface offers almost a little bit of everything but may confuse and frustrate both traditional windows users and converts alike.

    I’d really like to hear what your school is doing in this space and maybe share some of the reasons behind your decision.