How to Save Money as a Student with a Tablet PC

From The Student Tablet PC:

In the course of four semesters, assuming a tablet costs ~$200 more than a similarly equipted notebook, the tablet will break-even or save you money. This is not including productivity gains.

Let’s do some math. In the course of 2 years taking an average or 4 classes or so per semester:

  • 4 semester x 4 Spiral Notebooks, $6 x 4 = $24
  • Pens/Pencils/Highlighters, $5 x 4 = $20
  • 4 semseters x 4 Binders, $12 x 4 = $48
  • 2 years of binder separators tabs and folders, $102 Ink cartriges of printing, $70
  • Loose paper (printing and lined), $10
  • 2 years x Quality academic planner, $20

Grand total after 2 years: $202

You can see the numbers I used are about average, so anything high quality or extra will just increase the cost. If you take more than 4 classes, that’s just more to spend.

I’ll probaby spen $40 on papers, pens, printer ink over 2 years and I take 5-6 classes per semester.

So if you’re looking for a laptop and X’ed tablet PCs because of the price jump, now’s time to take another look.

I would argue that you could save even more. How? Books. You can easily spend $600 on books per semester. Yes, you can resell them at the end and maybe get half of what you spent on them back. At least at my school, there are copies of the books floating around school, either the library has them or the department has them. If that fails, you can either borrow them from a friend or, as a last resort, buy them from the bookstore and return them when you’re done scanning. In any event, just go borrow it for a few hours and go on a massive scanning binge. Voila! Scanned books in whatever format you choose. Personally, I would go for the Microsoft Document Image format. It’s pretty portable and you can mark it up.

At this point, I may have convinced you that you can save money, but how much money can you save? I’ll be honest, I dropped about $2200 on my Tablet. But that’s the price for getting one early in the game. Toshiba sells their Satellite R10 for a mere $1,189. Granted, it’s bottom of the line. But it’s a Tablet and it works. Now personally, I would spring for the Toshiba Tecra M4 ($1,614) or even my Portege M200, now selling for a lowly $1715. Spending $600/semester, you can “pay it off” in under three semesters (1.5 years)!

6 Replies to “How to Save Money as a Student with a Tablet PC”

  1. Here’s my math:

    6 classes a semester.
    * 6 semester x 6 Spiral Notebooks, $9 x 6 = $54
    * Pens/Pencils/Highlighters, $0 x 6 = $0
    Use free pens, no highlighters or pencils
    * 6 semesters x 0 Binders, $12 x 0 = $0
    Use your desk space and drawers for storing paper
    * 2 years of no binder separators, tabs, nor folders, No Ink cartridges for printing, $0
    Ask your friends to print or use quota at the library, no binders, so no separators
    * Loose paper (printing and lined), $0
    No binders to put loose paper in, no paper to buy
    * 2 years x No academic planner $0
    Academic planner? You’re kidding me

    Grand total? $54. Now with a Tablet, you’ll also have to print things out, so actually that’s an additional cost (if you go my way, since I won’t be printing out problem sets; if you use your own printer, you still need to buy ink, so thats $104 less)

    Lets also factor in repair costs and durability.

    Paper and pen chance of breaking: Very Low
    Tablet chance of breaking: Very High

    Cost of repair?

    P and P: Negligible, just start a new sheet
    Tablet: Probably >$100

    Lose your work somewhere? Leave it on the bus/subway? With paper you’re out the time and about 5 cents. With a Tablet you’re out the time and about 1500 dollars.

    Sorry, but a Tablet just doesn’t measure up to the old standards as an economic or practical choice.

  2. That’s a great post, Andrew. I agree that tablet pc’s are well worth the money. I too have invested in a tablet (Fujitsu Lifebook T4010D).

    I mean no harm to Alec; I find this a great opprotunity to elaborate on the value of a tablet pc. I was amused by the reply from Alec because it reminded me of my days (before buying a tablet) when I was so disorganized and couldn’t even find a pen to use when I needed one (let alone a written note from earlier in a semester).

    The value of the tablet pc goes beyond its price or resell value. The value is in the ability to be organized, have all of your notes in one place. Search your notes for anything you’ve ever written and find every entry satisfying your search in a seconds time. Password protect your notes. E-mail your notes. Take all of your notes, text books, music, pictures, movies, games, files and more with you all packed into a portable lightweight computer (mine is only about 3.5 pounds).

    It makes me laugh to think of Alec running around with a backpack full of all the things that could otherwise fit in a tablet (books, notes, cd’s, dvds, gaming cds, picture albums, calculator, bank statements, cell phone…). Tablet pc’s offer a convenience that is well worth the price.

    But, if Alec would rather lug around his fifty pound sack of stuff, or leave things back home and wish he had access to them while away, or search through his notes frantically throughout each semester, well, to each his own.

    You can find me and other tablet information on my weblog: Inklings and Impressions

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