Law Student Computer Buying Tips: 3. Should Law Students Consider a Tablet PC?

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This is the third in a series of tips for new law students wondering what computer to buy for law school:

I’ve been curious about using a Tablet PC in law school. These are laptops that allow you to write on the screen and hold them like a tablet of paper. The Student Tablet PC blog discusses the benefits that Tablet PCs have for students in its Tablet PC FAQ.

If you have never seen one, here are some pictures of Tablet PCs and here are some screenshots of Tablet PCs in use.

I have never used a Tablet PC and I have never seen one in law school. However, a Tablet PC could be useful to law students in many ways. With a Tablet PC a law student could—

  • Download cases from WestLaw or Lexis and underline, highlight, or make notes right on the case
  • Draw diagrams the professor writes on the board directly into the law student’s notes
  • Easily make arrows from one note to another to show a relationship
  • Scan notes into your Tablet PC and easily flip between them and your notes
  • Utilize the additional features for Tablet PCs in Microsoft OneNote
  • …and probably more.

After law school, a Tablet PC could be useful to practicing attorneys. There are times that using a laptop would not be appropriate, but holding a Tablet PC like a notebook and taking notes on it would be acceptable. And when you get back to the office, your notes are already on your computer—you don’t have to enter them onto the computer.

One drawback to Tablet PCs is they are more expensive than regular laptops. Here is a Tablet PC under $1,000, but it is not as thin as more expensive Tablet PCs.

I would recommend a Tablet PC to new law students because of the benefits a Tablet PC seems to offer law students. But since I haven’t used one, this recommendation may not be worth much.

Have any of you used a Tablet PC? Have you seen other law students use them? Or do you have an opinion on using Tablet PCs in law school? If so, please post a Comment here.

Related posts:

  1. Law Student Computer Buying Tips: 1. Buy a Laptop
  2. Law Student Computer Buying Tips: 2. What Size Laptop Should I buy?
  3. New Law School Students: Frequently Asked Questions
  4. Law Students Share Their Tips and Advice
  5. Save Money & Time by Buying Law School Books Online
  6. Tips for Law School Take-Home Exams

3 Responses to “Law Student Computer Buying Tips: 3. Should Law Students Consider a Tablet PC?”

  1. CPM Says:

    I was surprised at the complete absence of tablet laptops at law school. I have a Toshiba tablet laptop and have also used external (USB) graphics tablets that connect to conventional desktops or laptops and this technology does have a great deal to offer. It doesn’t come cheap, however. All other ‘bells and whistles’ being equal (size, memory, etc.) you will pay significantly more for the tablet than you will for the ‘regular’ laptop. Lots of law schools have arrangements with computer manufacturers or third-party sellers to provide students with discounted hardware and software – and if tablets are not included in this option, the difference could be even more significant.

    There are also stand-alone digital note-taking devices on the market which employ the same technology as tablet laptops. Like tablet laptops, charts, highlighting – anything – can be captured via the cordless electronic programmable stylus. Notes taken can be retrieved in several different ways and can also be downloaded into your computer. They are relatively inexpensive but do have some drawbacks. Most limit your writing area to ‘A6′ or ‘A9′ size: less than standard notebook paper and obviously even smaller than legal pads. These devices have the advantage of being unobtrusive and quiet – and no one can accuse you of surfing the net instead of listening to Professor Yawn

    One important point: if you do decide to go with a tablet technology, purchase it during the summer and get to know it well before you rely on it. Both the hardware and the software will take some getting used to!

  2. 2L Says:

    CPM, that is some great advice and information. Thank you!

  3. Teri Says:

    I’m not affiliated with this site, but it’s what got me hooked on wanting to get a tablet for law school:

    I totally agree that it’s just so much more personal to be taking notes while in a client interview, or even court, without having a screen in front of you. Yet, I couldn’t justify a new tablet when I had just gotten a new laptop the summer before. So, I waited.

    My laptop is an awesome widescreen. I love that I can have two documents open at a time, such as my notes on one side and Lexis on the other. I love being able to access the internet and look things up immediately in class. I love being able to input my notes right there without having to sort through piles of paper later that night. I love being able to carry dozens of books and study aids on PDF’s without having to carry dozens of physical binders.

    Yet….that computer was too much for me. Literally, too much. It was too heavy to carry with all of my other books. I found I got distracted in class. I started to take notes with pen and paper, and found that I retained more and paid better attention. Yet, I still had organization problems. Anf of course I was drastically behind on answering emails. By the time I got to a computer, I just didn’t have time to read email. When I carried my laptop, I could answer a few in the minutes between classes.

    So, finally I caved. I shopped around on Ebay and found a decent used tablet for $150. As I already have a great laptop, I just need a tablet to get me through classes. I’ll stick to the laptop for writing papers and exams.

    Anyway…long email to justify my purchase and to let others know that great deals exist!

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