Laptops vs Tablets - Alastair Herron - ANME

Laptops vs Tablets

Posted on: 25th Mar 2019 by: Alastair Herron

When it comes to buying new devices for the school you’re faced with many choices, one of the most basic of which is: laptop or tablet? Alastair Herron, ANME member and Network Manager at Guiseley School, weighs up the pros and cons of both.

When choosing between laptops or tablets for use in school, there are many questions we have to ask. What is the main purpose of the device? Is our infrastructure capable? Do we have an adequate management system in place? Is this just for teachers, or are students to use the devices as well?

The only way to answer these questions is by talking to the key stakeholders to make sure what you have on offer meets their needs. There is no single solution that fits everyone, and some people are just not happy with change, so plan for both scenarios. 

First things first – consider purpose

If the main purpose of the device is teacher use, is there a requirement for access to your MIS system? Do you have a system in place for accessing your MIS from a tablet? There are many systems available that can access – and write back to – MIS, so plan for the additional cost when purchasing such a solution.

Do the end-users have a requirement to print from the device? Tablets may require an additional system that will allow users to do this, especially if your print solution requires authentication. Do you need access to network drives? If using tablets you may have to implement a way of achieving this securely. Remember, tablets and smartphones are ‘clientless’ devices, so additional authentication requirements will need to be met.


Using laptops instead of tablets is the easiest solution to implement (assuming a reliable wireless system is in place). They natively support MIS, printers are easy to install and security policies are available for most installation scenarios. If there’s a requirement for the laptop to connect to a projector or touchscreen in the classroom, make sure you’re able to do this seamlessly – there’s nothing worse than spending most of your time troubleshooting connectivity issues.


Tablets are a different matter altogether – you’ll need a good mobile device management (MDM) solution in place. Some are free, but most will cost you. Once your devices are fully managed, security policies are easy to implement and deploying applications is relatively easy. Connecting tablets to projectors can be tricky, but networkable projectors are available, and most touchscreens support wireless connectivity natively.

Tablets can also be used as laptops. Using one of a number of different remote access solutions which you may already have in place, coupled with a bluetooth keyboard, you’ve got the best of both worlds.

Best of both worlds

So, what’s the best solution for your school? If your infrastructure has been set up correctly, and you have done plenty of testing and asked the correct questions, why not use both? They both have their merits and both may achieve the desired outcome. Price-wise, tablets – with a bluetooth keyboard and remote desktop system in place – are a similar cost to a decent specification laptop.

Whatever decision is made, make sure the user is comfortable using the device and has clear guidance and training in its use – otherwise you’ll end up with an expensive paperweight, that’s barely even used as a calendar.


If your infrastructure has been set up correctly, and you have done plenty of testing and asked the correct questions, why not use both?


Talk to the key stakeholders to make sure what you have on offer meets their needs

Alastair Herron
ANME Member

Written for Education Executive -

Testimonials from Members & Partners

  • “Fantastic event, with interesting content and very well organised.”

    Alain Squiteri, Sales Director - InVentry

  • I thought the day was excellent. It was really good to have the companies there and invaluable for meeting and speaking with new contacts. I really hope this carries on as it was desperately needed in our field.

    Janet Cannell, Member

  • We’re really proud to be ANME’s platinum sponsor. It’s such a great platform for school network managers to get together and share ideas, plus it provides us the opportunity to speak directly to schools using our solutions and get their feedback and input into new features. Every event is always different, with fantastic speakers providing real insight and ideas on all things edtech.

    Al Kingsley, Group Managing Director, NetSupport Limited

  • ANME meetings provide valuable networking - being able to talk to other professionals doing the same role and understanding their approach and their context. This is a great way to challenge what you are doing in your own setting.

    Neil Limbrick, ANME Ambassador

  • A fantastic online resource of like-minded professionals that you can use to bounce ideas off, chat things through, get advice from. Invaluable.

    Ric Turner, Balshaws Church of England High School

  • The ANME is a priceless resource for anyone working in an IT support role in the education sector. The online forum is lively and informative and the regular meetings provide insight into new products and valuable networking opportunities with peers from other establishments. I've lost count of the number of valuable conversations and helpful tips that I've had since becoming a member. If you've not been to a meeting before then try to attend the next one in your area, you won't be disappointed.

    Dave Leonard, ANME Ambassador and ICT Manager at Matthew Moss High School

  • The ANME has been a great resource when you're a lone IT manager, now you have friends going through the same obstacles as you, with plenty of advice and guidance.

    Michael Frost, ANME Member & IT Network Manager at Parkwood Hall Co-operative Academy

  • Being part of the ANME is like being part of a large corporate IT department, there's always someone you can ask for advice

    Paul Gillon, ANME Member & Network Manager at West Hill School, Stalybridge

  • ANME is like having a team of IT experts at my fingertips. It helps me keep up to date with the latest trends in IT education.
    Rick and the ANME members have always helped when I've needed extra guidance to make great IT decisions

    Clifford Fernandes, ANME Member & IT Manager at Claremont High School

  • I attended my first ANME regional meeting recently which was great. It was Informative, relevant and useful! Unlike some meetings I attend where you get one or two useful nuggets of information, but other bits have been added to the agenda as fillers. Glad to be a member of this group of like-minded individuals.

    Adam Hall, ANME Member & IT Operations Manager at Four Oaks Learning Trust