Whether you’re a student yourself or the parent of one, you know how aggravating it can be to trek back and forth from class with all your necessities. Textbooks, notebooks, even netbooks and laptops have become part of the list essentials to put in your backpack every day; particularly for college students. Tablets have made a difference to some degree, but the majority of them don’t offer transition between apps that are smooth and quick enough to make note-taking and studying easy on a single device. And never mind battery life; if you didn’t leave your tablet plugged in for at least 10 hours yesterday, it probably won’t even turn on for class today. It’s just how technology works—or is it?
A Challenger Appears
Luckily, Barnes & Noble and Samsung have embarked on a joint venture to change the game for lecture- and class-friendly mobile devices. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK offers a veritable panacea of handy features for students on the go, from junior high up to graduate school.
What makes the Tab 4 NOOK such a great choice for students? It’s one part form, one part function, and one part finance. The Galaxy eReader gives students access to the entire online Barnes & Noble library, including any and all textbooks available in digital form, while the same device can also run note-taking apps, capture video and audio and get online for research, email and chatting with friends and family back home.
Most eReaders are designed to fulfill a singular purpose: a portable library. The Tab 4 NOOK is one of the first true hybrid devices, and that makes it different. The device is essentially a Samsung Galaxy 4 Tablet that’s been sanded down to remove all the sharp edges and then polished to promise the best presentation possible. It’s been stripped of the usual Samsung trappings and many pre-installed “junk” apps in favor of Barnes & Noble’s NOOK apps and widgets, all of which are moveable and removable to your own preference. Unlike the standard Samsung Galaxy 4 Tab, the NOOK variant lacks Samsung’s infamous My Magazine, which intrudes upon your screen with an irremovable widget that allegedly give access to multiple updates from a single location; PCWorld applauded the removal of the “feature” in the new Galaxy Note 4, so the fact that the Tab 4 NOOK lacks it altogether makes the entire experience much more pleasing from a UI perspective.
Productivity and Multi-Tasking
The smaller of Samsung’s two NOOK tablets—the other clocks in at 10.1 inches, making it a bit cumbersome to carry around everywhere—offers some fantastic multi-tasking functions, allowing students to stay productive and follow along in class at the same time.
Not the least of these features is Samsung’s trademark Multi Window functionality. Reported as fully operational in the little NOOK hybrid by Engadget, this allows users to run two apps simultaneously, on the same screen. While this has become the standard in Samsung’s tablets, being able to utilize such a feature in an eReader is a definite game-changer for the educational tech market. This feature allows students to have an eBook open at the same time as their favorite note-taking app; this way they can take notes, follow along, and not worry about missing out on key lecture information or discussion while they switch between the two apps to catch up with the reading or put down a note. And unlike other devices with this kind of function, most notably laptops, the Tab 4 NOOK is small enough to carry in a purse or even a winter coat’s large inside pocket. Clocking in at less than 10 ounces in weight, users don’t have to worry about anything getting dragged down when they pack up this device to get to class.
While Gizmodo’s launch review of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK went so far as to ask “what’s the point?” even they declared that the main demographic for the device would be users who wanted an eReader with other, more complex functions. The tablet hybrid also comes with about $200 in freebies, including episodes of hit TV shows, free books, and even a year-long “trial” subscription to multiple nationally acclaimed magazines. Since one of these options is National Geographic, it again proves its worth to students across the country—easy access to academically accepted content just for buying a device that works just as well and costs less than half the price of the industry standard iPad? That’s more than worth it.
There are other options, but considering the Tab 4 NOOK is the only one in the current round of next-gen eReaders to offer more than eight hours of battery life in a single charge, even with Wi-Fi on and screen brightness up, it’s hard to justify getting anything else for the student in your life.