Best Note-Taking Tablet/Slate for Varsity (Medical Student)

The Adonis

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Aug 21, 2011
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Hey guys, I'm in the market for a really good tablet/slate for note-taking/annotations during lectures (I'm a medical student).

I've been looking around and am having a tough time choosing between the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition (just released) and a high-range Windows tablet/slate. Can anyone provide me with information about the Pros and Cons of the best note taking tablets available? Some points that may help:

1. What is your budget?
Any price (has to be worth it though)

2. Do you prefer a media/mobile tablet like the iPad, Windows tablet PC, or notebook convertible?
Either, as long as has tablet functionality and keyboard facility (whether attachable or not)

3. What size Tablet PC would you prefer?
Would prefer closer to 10" mark

4. Do you have any preferences to brand loyalty or dislikes?
Not Apple (own an iPad and has no real use in the lecture hall)

5. How many hours battery life do you require?
Absolute Minimum of 8 hours. The more, the better!

6. What will be the primary usage scenario of this tablet?
Almost exclusively annotating PDFs, and taking notes at High speed. Occasionally inserting photos from board, Drawing diagrams as part of notes. Some web-surfing & general word-processing.

7. Do you have an OS preference?
Android or Windows. I am heavily invested in both platforms

8. What software and tasks do you intend to run?
It depends on the OS:
For Microsoft: Office (OneNote mainly)
For Android: LectureNotes and/or any alternative note-taking app

Screen Specifics

1. Do you require a pen? With or without pressure sensitivity? Do you prefer Wacom or N-trig?
Yes, pen absolutely required. Definitely WITH pressure sensitivity. No preference between Wacom or N-trig - don't really know the difference anyway

Component Specifics

1. What size Hard Drive and Memory do you require? Would you like expandable memory? HDMI Support?
32/64gb+ would be ideal. Will be using cloud storage (dropbox). Expandable memory: Yes - either micro sd or usb where needed. No HDMI Support needed

Misc
1. Other non specific items ~ please add other items you require not covered above?
I will also be looking at purchasing a keyboard for the tablet (wireless or docked) for more efficient typing.

2. Additional requests ~ anything other you wish to take into consideration?
The tablet/slate in question should be fast and efficient at annotating PDFs/taking down notes during lectures. Notes will often require a composition of text and photos/pictures/drawings-by-hand. A decent built-in camera would help capturing pictures being presented in the lecture and quickly inserting them into my notes. Hand-drawings should be easily included too. Being able to perform basic multitasking is a Must. Examples include:
a) Annotating a PDF while taking notes in another window
b) Annotating a PDF/Taking Notes while browsing online
c) Capturing photos on the board and quickly inserting them into notes being taken between text (at a specific position - not just shoved to the bottom and grouped with other pictures taken during the lecture)
d) Drawing pictures in between typed text and quickly switching between the two
An app store with some decent apps for efficiency would be beneficial.

So that's pretty much it! Basically, which system would be better (Android or Windows) and which Windows tablet could compete with the Android Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition that was just released.
 

HavocXphere

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I think you'll find that tablets are less useful in an academic environment than you think. Taking notes at high speed for example is just not happening.
 

ph4t3

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I've been using my iPad with notability installed for almost a year now. Been taking down math equations and circuit diagrams etc...

Really great and productive! Forces me to write neatly. :)
 

The Adonis

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Aug 21, 2011
Messages
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Thank you ponder - I considered the livescribe quite some time ago. However, I did have two concerns:
  1. I would only be able to write down on livescribe paper (don't have a laser printer which is the only way I'd be able to print my own)
  2. If I make a mistake/typo, it gets recorded. I can't just 'undo' it as can be done with the Note's 'eraser tool' or I'm sure with a Windows tablet
The second thread wasn't very helpful unfortunately. The tablets considered were not really what I was looking for and they all had to be below R3000 (ie really low-range tablets)

I think you'll find that tablets are less useful in an academic environment than you think. Taking notes at high speed for example is just not happening.
Thanks for the advice. I've been keeping up with my regular Lenovo Thinkpad laptop in terms of typing (and would obviously use a keyboard for the same purpose with the tablet), but I really feel that a tablet with a decent digitizer pen would help with those drawings/diagrams that are often important in medicine. Being able to integrate both would save me a lot of time and effort and make my next year of study a whole lot simpler...

I've been using my iPad with notability installed for almost a year now. Been taking down math equations and circuit diagrams etc...

Really great and productive! Forces me to write neatly. :)
ph4t3, appreciate the suggestion but I tried using a friend's iPad 2 last year and didn't find it at all useful for proper diagrams - the lack of a proper digitizer pen and an inability to multitask won't help in my course unfortunately. Will look into notability anyway though - may help my friend in his own course.
Thanks I definitely will! Will check out some comparison reviews/vids between this and the Note 10.1 2014 edition and see which one will fit what I need :)
 

KhoisanX

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I think you'll find that tablets are less useful in an academic environment than you think. Taking notes at high speed for example is just not happening.
Can't agree more, I have yet to find anything that works better than a pencil and paper.
 

The Adonis

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Aug 21, 2011
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Can't agree more, I have yet to find anything that works better than a pencil and paper.
I've been switching between pen&paper and typing/annotating for the past 3 years and I can honestly say that the typed/annotated notes (that I print later) are easier for me than the pencil & paper.

I can type far faster than I can write, I can correct mistakes (my own, the lecturer's or the actual PDF note) on the go while keeping my finalized, annotated notes clean and structured, and I never have a problem with organisation as everything is dated and tagged appropriately...Each to their own I guess :p

But that's why I was looking for a decent tablet. While a laptop is great for typing notes/annotating docs quickly, adding hand-drawn diagrams/photos to notes is quite impossible. These applications can only be performed on a tablet with a digitizer (not capactive) pen.

Now that you know my reasons, would you recommend the Galaxy Note 10.1 2013 Edition (as stated above) or a Windows tablet alternative (Lenovo Thinkpad 2, Samsung Ativ Tab 3, Windows Surface Pro etc etc)??

Galaxy Note 3 is coming out.
Haha thanks I AM aware of that...but I'm not looking for a phablet - I have a GS3 and I need myself a tablet (such as the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition that was launched together with the Note 3 you've mentioned...or a Windows alternative)
 
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CataclysmZA

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If you're looking at the Windows tablets, you really have two choices:

Microsoft Surface Pro
ASUS Vivotab w/ digitizer

Both have Wacom pens and both are the choices I'd make if I was looking for a Windows 8 tablet with pen support and possibly a keyboard dock. Unfortunately, neither are available in SA and the Surface Pro will get a Haswell revamp next month as well. The Pro is available on Amazon with the keyboard bought separately, though.
 

xera

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If you're looking at the Windows tablets, you really have two choices:

Microsoft Surface Pro
ASUS Vivotab w/ digitizer
Surface Pro is absolutely awesome, but battery only lasts about 4 hours with continuous use. Of course it can sleep for weeks though. The other bad point is the fixed angle of the screen when using the stand, and the floppy keyboard hinge. It's not nice to use on your lap, and if on desk, the desk needs to be the right height, or Surface needs to be the right distance from you in order to get your eyesight perpendicular with the screen.
 

krycor

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iPad.. check the software for med stuff. if i remember correctly some of the stuff u guys use is predominately iPad based.. or was a few yrs ago. dunno if it changed(sis in med hence i recall).
 

Pho3nix

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If you're looking at the Windows tablets, you really have two choices:

Microsoft Surface Pro
ASUS Vivotab w/ digitizer

Both have Wacom pens and both are the choices I'd make if I was looking for a Windows 8 tablet with pen support and possibly a keyboard dock. Unfortunately, neither are available in SA and the Surface Pro will get a Haswell revamp next month as well. The Pro is available on Amazon with the keyboard bought separately, though.
This is why you should wait a bit and get the Surface Pro 2. Should be worth it. Better battery and semi-adjustable kickstand. 8Gb of Ram so you could replace your laptop too.
eagerly waiting for this myself

Note 10.1 2014 is another suggestion if your that way inclined.
 

CataclysmZA

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Surface Pro is absolutely awesome, but battery only lasts about 4 hours with continuous use. Of course it can sleep for weeks though. The other bad point is the fixed angle of the screen when using the stand, and the floppy keyboard hinge. It's not nice to use on your lap, and if on desk, the desk needs to be the right height, or Surface needs to be the right distance from you in order to get your eyesight perpendicular with the screen.
This is why you should wait a bit and get the Surface Pro 2. Should be worth it.
Agreed, with Surface Pro 2 just around the corner its worth the wait. I really hope Haswell changes things for Microsoft's lineup because they have made a brilliant tablet.
 
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