University is a life changing experience that more and more people are going through every year.

However, many students have to be tight with their money, as student loans only go so far.

This means that if you are going to university, you should think carefully about what you are going to purchase. You will want it to see you through years of writing essays, dissertations, charts, and graphs.

Tablet or laptop?

The results of a survey carried out through our partnership with Studento, a leading site for University Students, shows that an amazing 8% out of the 312 responders to the survey claimed to be taking just a tablet to University.

Whilst we understand that a common opinion among students is that the iPad is the best quality tablet available, this isn’t necessarily the case. It all depends on getting the right device for you, whether it is a tablet or a laptop.

What with the large amounts of cash that students can get as a result of student finance, it is no surprise that around 70% buy a new laptop or PC for university, with a staggering 45% taking both a laptop and a tablet.

However, 10% are taking just a tablet. Limited to applications, tablets can be unwieldy when it comes to more intricate work. Anyone who has tried to put a decent spreadsheet together on an iPad will know just how ‘compatible’ the office apps are not. What seems a simple task on a computer in Excel becomes difficult and badly formatted in a heartbeat using a tablet.

If you are looking to purchase a device to see you through a university course, you need to make sure that you choose the one that will suit you the most. This is especially true as most students will be tight on money throughout their course, and it may well be difficult to get the money together to buy a new replacement, so you will want the most suitable one from the beginning.

Productivity programs or apps

The Microsoft Office suite is sure to be able to serve you well throughout your course, although it will require a large payout. Nowadays, Microsoft Office products will require an annual payment in a subscription form of payment.

Although it is quite expensive, a lot of products available come with a number of installations, across several devices. This is great for cutting costs, as it is possible to split it between a group of students, or to serve you and your family.

Many companies have tried to replicate the success of Microsoft Office, and to take the crown of ‘productivity king’. However, none have quite yet measured up.

OpenOffice, LibreOffice, and Apple’s iWork are just some examples of these, but when it comes to converting and reading files or working collaboratively, they fall down.

One alternative that is good for Android tablets and phones (and is readily available to access on any laptop with Google Chrome browser) is Google Docs and Google Sheets. They allow online collaboration and can be shared with anyone, and stored online, which makes it incredibly useful. It is limited in functions, however, unlike Microsoft Office.

However, when it comes to editing documents at any great length, it is much easier on a laptop rather than a tablet.

What do we suggest

If you’re on the lookout for a laptop (a unibody aluminium design such as the Asus Zenbook or Samsung Series 9 will help to survive the tough university life, as will a good protective bag), it’s worth paying a decent sum and having a good quality laptop. It should last you a few years, rather than having something falling apart under the stress of university life.

You should look into getting Microsoft Office, be it the student edition, or normal edition. Although it is a bit pricey, if you can split the cost between the multiple installations available with either your family or friend, you can reduce the price and make the most of the programs which have been honed over the decades. It is available for anywhere between £50 and £80, so make sure you shop around to get the best deal.

Make use of back up devices and services, such as Google Drive, to ensure that you don’t lose your work. The worst nightmare for students is staying up working until 1am, only to have a file corrupt and become unusable.