Homework iPads, Surface, devices oh my!
July 4, 2020 7:14 AM   Subscribe

Considering device needs for fall and beyond with one more kid in elementary and have a question: Does Surface laptops or another Windows laptop allow you to take an image or PDF and easily write on it and then save to submit? We currently mainly use an iPad for homework because it is easier to write on the many worksheets with Notability (simple PDF import) Long-term a second laptop would be better than another iPad (particularly as my kids love Minecraft mods which are computer based).
posted by typecloud to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Yes. There are a few programs to do this - I use drawboard.
posted by Valancy Rachel at 7:44 AM on July 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: There's also the very simple Microsoft Whiteboard app that lets you import images, documents and PDFs, then doodle on them and save them as images. It's available by clicking the button on the end of the surface pen, or just downloading it from the Windows Store on a normal windows pc.

I also like OneNote when used on a Surface, but that's a bit more of a general note-taking app.
posted by Eleven at 8:27 AM on July 4, 2020

Teacher who is a surface user here. There are plenty of apps for this! Onenote is great for taking notes but poor for re-saving pdfs (the page formatting is not preserved once a pdf is imported.) But even MS Word does a decent job at handling inking now.

I like your choice for a laptop rather than just a slate - in my experience those are still underpowered and have heat issues for gaming. If you want a laptop, a "yoga" style where the screen can rotate or flex all the way around could be wise - inking on the screen with a keyboard locked in front is a pain.
posted by Wulfhere at 10:00 AM on July 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I found the ipad really annoying for this exact purpose. It just doesn't have a filesystem that makes sense to me. I got a surface and love it - I am using Xodo (bonus: it's free) for marking up pdfs, which has relatively simple inking tools. You can also import pdfs into OneNote for the more advanced stuff.

I do not recommend a yoga if inking is something you want to do a lot of. I recently returned a c940 for a defective touchpad, but in a way it was a blessing because the inking was really terrible. I got an MS surface instead and the difference is night and day.

A relatively recent (SP6+) surface pro plus surface pen is the only inking tech I've used that comes close to the Apple Pencil, which feels very natural. The Surface Pen is pretty close. The Yoga was not - I was constantly having to erase errant strokes all over the screen. You could consider the Surface Go 2 if inking is your main use case; it's less expensive than the surface pro line and I think it uses the same pen technology.
posted by dbx at 11:22 AM on July 4, 2020

My kids found their new windows 10 laptops so annoying and not designed for online teaching that we got them iPads. They aren’t computer experts, but good enough users. They use their laptops for games including Minecraft, but not for the online school work provided to them last year.
posted by The_Vegetables at 11:43 AM on July 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

Reviews frustratingly don't often talk about the pen abilities of any given tablet, but this spreadsheet from the folks at TabletPC Review has helped me comparison shop for active digitizer windows tablets for years.
posted by Wulfhere at 12:18 PM on July 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've tried a bunch of options, and the best one on a Windows tablet was just using Edge.
The pen writes nicely, saving is simple (except for a period of a few months where it would save even if I didn't ask it to...), and it loads things quickly with no hassle.

OneNote is an option I haven't tried due to unresolved negative impressions from the early days.

Notability really is better, though. Apple's garbage fire of a filesystem is a dealbreaker, though. I want to see my files from anywhere on my network!
posted by Acari at 1:53 PM on July 4, 2020

Response by poster: Thanks everyone ! This gives me a much better idea of options and trade-offs.
posted by typecloud at 3:43 PM on July 4, 2020

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