I am starting pharmacy school this August - would purchasing a tablet laptop help me become more efficient in school?
July 13, 2010 1:57 PM   Subscribe

I am starting pharmacy school this August - would purchasing a tablet laptop help me become more efficient in school? Anyone with tablet experience have opinions?

I am considering a tablet laptop. The two models I am considering are:
1. Fujitsu LifeBook T4215
2. Lenovo ThinkPad X201

Those options are based on asking another pharmacy student what they used and what another medical school was issuing to their own students.

The reason I want to go with the tablet laptop is because I think writing down notes electronically on power point/ adobe during lecture would be more efficient. Then being able to use the search function to find notes would be a great way to organize and structure my courses.

The problem I am running into is:

1. In my area - the computer stores do not have a tablet laptop of any type on hand to "try before I buy". I am concerned that the writing function electronically with a pen is not precise and that I would not like the tablet function without actually testing it out. And although described through product specifications on paper - the screen may not suit my eyes for actual reading, the laptop itself also may break easily due to having to swivel and go through wear and tear, and it may be a lot more clunkier than I expect, and the keyboard may not have the type of keys I would like to type on, etc.
So, because I can not test one out physically on hand - I will have to trust reviews and take a bit of a risk for an expensive investment if I do go through this route.

2. I am not clear if I would actually benefit greatly from tablet function. Writing down lectures electronically sounds great in theory, but I would also have the option of being able to watch streaming video of lectures - so in that case - I would not be using my tablet at all if used at home where I would have to watch the screen and take notes on paper. OR - I would have to get/go to another computer and watch streaming video and take notes using my tablet which may or may not be beneficial.

3. Studying-wise: taking good notes is one thing, but testing myself on the material is another. It's nice to have to tablet function to take notes and not have to lug a binder of papers around, but I will probably need some flash card software to do well in school to memorize drugs, reactions, etc. Therefore - I am not clear how much of actual beneficience/efficiency I would gain from this route. Are there software programs that go hand in hand with tablet laptops to make note taking more efficient?

4. And on top of all this: with technology changing there are other options that include getting the Livescribe smart pen and Bamboo Pen and touch to take notes. I don't know if I could just buy a regular laptop and just use these other gadgets offered. Especially with the bamboo pen and touch.

5. I want to increase product efficiency and time and I think a tablet notebook would help me achieve this during pharmacy school. But maybe instead of focusing on the tablet notebook - I could focus on software that would help synchronous my time and help me schedule my appointments?

Sorry for so much information thrown in with some of my own thoughts/opinons - it is just hard to figure out exactly what I need to ask in order to make this decision because price, durability and efficiency method are all things I have to consider. Can anyone out there with experience of being efficient with a tablet notebook want to contribute an opinion of things to consider??

Anon because - I basically don't want it linked to my account that I'm going to pharmacy for future job considerations -

E-mail: 555xyz555 dot gmail dot com
posted by anonymous to Technology (5 answers total)
My experience with tablets is that they are all gimmicks. There is some very specialized proprietary software that works well with tablets (medical chart software, etc.), but general applications either fundamentally don't work well with a tablet UI, or nobody cares enough to make them work.

They are probably good for drawing diagrams into your notes, but a regular keyboard is a much faster otherwise. If it's not faster for you, practice your touch typing, and it will be!

For flashcards, try SuperMemo, a spaced repetition application.
posted by jrockway at 2:57 PM on July 13, 2010

I have one of the tablets you are thinking of getting. I would suggest a laptop or a netbook. The tablet is fun, but if I want to get any real work done, I use my laptop. I also have a cute tiny netbook I carry around. All my documents are in the cloud and my browsers are all synced, so I can use multiple devices and still get what I need.

If you have to get one device for productivity, get a laptop. If you want a tiny device, get a netbook.
posted by fifilaru at 4:14 PM on July 13, 2010

I've got a Lifebook 4200 series, and OneNote is great on it, in that you can take handwritten notes, organize your notes etc. I didn't have it for school though, I find usually that technology just gets in the way, you're waiting for the computer to boot, software to load, stupid anti-virus is acting up etc, all the while you could have flipped open a notebook and started writing. The computer doesn't make you more efficient. Getting yourself organized is key, and you can do that just as easily with paper. You also won't be tempted to surf the web, play games etc. when the lecture is boring.
posted by defcom1 at 4:22 PM on July 13, 2010

I finished pharmacy school a couple of years ago, and I probably wouldn't have used a tablet much. Of course, I am not much of a gadgets person, so YMMV.

SuperMemo is a great idea. There is a similar free program called Anki that I used. You will be doing a ton of memorization in pharmacy school. A TON. I wish I'd started doing rote memorization earlier because you need to do a lot to prepare for the licensing exam.

Personally, I'd wait until I was a semester or two in before buying any gear. It's hard to know now what you will want. Though the classes are a lot like organic chem & biology, so however you studied for those is likely how you will study in your pharmacy classes.

Also, I would really, really recommend trying before you buy. You have to take notes FAST in pharmacy school and I doubt I could have done it fast enough on a tablet.
posted by selfmedicating at 4:51 PM on July 13, 2010

I love technology as much as the next guy, but when it comes to school -- and I'm totally serious here -- there's no substitute for a good notebook, a good pen or pencil, and index cards. Using a computer in class can cause all sorts of problems: You won't be able to keep up, the battery may run down, it'll crash when you really need it to work, etc. Plus there are all the distractions on the internet. I say invest in a good laptop that you can use at home (for typing papers, doing research, etc) but go to class with a pen and paper. Type up your notes after class, when you have time to digest the material and hone in on what's important. It's also easier to organize this way, instead of trying to do it on the fly.
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 5:51 PM on July 13, 2010

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