iPads vs LaptopsWritten by Behrman House Staff, 24 of April, 2012
An Interview with Andy J. Shannon, Head of IT at Behrman House
by Terry Kaye
TK: Educators regularly ask you whether to buy iPads or laptops for their schools. What do you say?
AJS: I understand the urge to buy iPads. I myself have bought three. iPads are cool. They’re more easily transportable, conducive to sharing in groups, and allow you to easily download and use apps from the App Store.
TK: Any “but’s”?
AJS: First, there aren’t yet many apps for use in congregational schools. Second, most interactive Hebrew software uses Flash for animation, which isn’t compatible with tablets. Here at Behrman House we’re moving in the direction of developing Hebrew and other products for tablets but the timing is uncertain.
TK: So what advantages does a laptop confer, vs an iPad?
AJS: With a laptop the user can: 1) See animated Flash content on the web, i.e., use the interactive Hebrew, 2) Play CDs and DVDs and use USB drives, 3) Use non-Apple approved software (e.g., Photoshop, Word, Excel, Powerpoint), 4) Have multiple user sign-ins on a single computer (i.e., share devices) which is useful for groups working together in class, 5) Easily hook up to a projector for class presentations.
TK: So you’re recommending buying laptops for the school instead of tablets. Talk about the price differential.
AJS: The starting prices for many Windows laptops has dropped into the $400-500 range, which puts them right in line with the price of an iPad. I recommend buying any laptop on sale at your local Best Buy or Staples which contains an Intel i3 processor and at least 3 gig of RAM and Windows 7.
TK: Why is it then that iPads are now used in many Jewish day schools?
AJS: Day schools have the time and resources to incorporate tablets into their curriculum. And they benefit from having access to apps for General Studies.
TK: Any final words?
AJS: It’s tempting to think of iPads as “little computers.” That’s not true. They are more limited than even a basic laptop. For example, it’s hard to type on a tablet without an accessory keyboard. So, for at least the next two years, my view is that a laptop will be more useful than an iPad for congregational school classes.