Since the iPad by Apple was first available for purchase in April 2010, a new tech device category was introduced. The tablet. With functions that are in many ways a cross between a mobile smart phone and a laptop, the tablet market has really taken off. We now have the iPad 2, the Android platform with tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, and other brands.

U.S. sales of tablets are expected to double to 24.1 million units by the end of this year, says Forrester Analyst Sarah Rottman Epps. Even more impressive: In fact, by 2015, she expects 82 million US consumers — one-third of US online consumers — to be using a tablet and not all of them will be iPads.

With such early and robust acceptance of the tablet, it’s worth considering some of the notable advantages it has over a laptop particularly when used in school and college settings by our kids.

  • The tablet is a lot thinner and therefore lighter than the typical desktop computer. It has much smaller dimensions, too, making it easier to fit into a backpack that’s already over loaded with bulky, heavy textbooks.
  • You can easily view the screen vertically or horizontally simply by turning it on it’s side or keeping if upright.
  • A tablet fits more easily onto a typical classroom desk than a laptop might. What’s more is, unlike a laptop, a student can hold and type on a tablet while standing up even when there is no surface to place or lean the device on.
  • Both front- and rear-facing camera positions can be used on a tablet, whereas using a laptop – because of the fold-down screen — that’s not an option.
  • With a tablet, because of its flat screen and compact design, it is much easier than on a laptop to do things like reclining on the couch to watch movies, play games or talk on Skype.

Why or why not have you considered buying a tablet for your child to use for school or college? Please leave a comment and share your experiences.