Computer corner

Reviewed by 
Bill Gillespie and Rosemary McDowall

It never ceases to amaze us just how quickly things change when it comes to information and communications technology. Just a short while ago, Apple launched the iPad and now it seems that mobile technology is about to revolutionise education. Not only do we have a proliferation ofiPads in schools, but schools can also choose from Android and Windows 8 tablets.

Increasingly schools are looking at implementing “bring your own device” policies. To assist schools to get a better understanding of mobile devices, we thought we would look at the latest Windows 8 tablets from Lenovo and Dell. For this review we will look at the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2.

One of the main benefits of using a Windows 8 tablet is that it can be used by multiple users. In theory it will connect to Windows Active Directory and load the appropriate profiles directly from the server. This means that all printers and network shares should be available to users. Currently, the Information Technology Directorate is conducting Windows 8 tablet trials. Part of this solution is developing a standard operating environment similar to the school rollout computers. Another benefit of Windows 8 tablets is that they can run current legacy programs such as Microsoft Word and Excel.

The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 has a thin, light design with long-battery and always-on connectivity, as expected of a tablet. The tablet, being less than 10 millimetres in height and less than 610 grams, takes mobility and efficiency to a new level. For the technically minded, the ThinkPad Tablet 2 comes with an Intel Atom Z2760 dual-core, four-thread, 1.80GHz processor. The tablet also has a 10.1 inch (16:9) LED backlight, anti-glare, multitouch, HD WXGA (1366x768) (720p) screen. Our tablet came with 2GB LPDD2 SDRAM, 64GB Solid State HDD and Windows 8 Pro (32 bit).

We found the Lenovo easy to use and fast enough for school use. With its light weight, it was no problem for the children to manipulate for long periods of time. One slight issue was the plastic case surrounding the tablet. We were a little worried about its longevity, however, this could easily be addressed with the use of a protective case. We found that students had little difficulty adapting to the Windows 8 interface. As a matter of fact, they seemed to adapt to the environment much quicker than the teachers who tried the tablet. All of the children were enthusiastic about using the tablet.

We had some interesting results when we tried to use the tablet in a Department of Education and Communities (DEC) environment. We could connect to the Windows Store but when downloading apps we received an error message, “Please connect to the Internet and try again. We had no problem installing apps at home. In terms of using apps, it was very much a hit and miss affair and depended on the app. Some would work within the DEC environment and some wouldn’t. While more apps are coming daily, the Windows Store is still a long way behind Android and Apple when it comes to quality apps.

Overall we liked the tablet and would be happy to use it at home or in the school environment.Hardware was supplied by Lenovo Australia. 

Bill Gillespie teaches at Elanora Heights PS while Rosemary McDowall teaches at North Sydney Boys HS. They can be contacted at computer_corner2000@yahoo.com.