Back to school 2015: all the best tech supplies for the year ahead

Back to school

Instead of an Apple for the teacher, you should really be investing in an Apple iPad for yourself, or one of its Android challengers. Laptops became desktop replacements two decades ago, and now tablets are sending laptops from Back to School to old school.

And that's OK, because Apple, Dell, Samsung, Google and Amazon tablets are growing more capable of handling students' productivity needs. Particularly, this autumn's tablet-focused iOS 9 update brings new multitasking features and a better keyboard with additional shortcuts to the number one tablet. Whether you go with a full-sized 9.7-inch iPad Air or the smaller 7.9-inch iPad mini, all of Apple's tablets benefit from the fully stocked App Store and iBook textbooks.

Samsung has pioneered multi-window software on its many iPad-challenging tablets, making it an easy choice for anyone who prefers Android devices. But there are other Google-powered options catching up. Dell surprised us with the stylish Venue 8 7000, and the Nexus 9 is a pure Android tablet that gets Google's software updates first. Finally, Amazon, with its Android-forked operating system, goes the cheaper route with a fully competent tablet if all your care about is the basics, like watching movies and reading.

Back to School

iPad Air 2

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Apple's best tablet, sharper than ever

There's no need for old-school pencils with Apple's latest tablet, because at 6.1mm thick, it's actually thinner than the No. 2 writing utensil. It's also the sharpest iPad yet: its 9.7-inch display provides a brighter, more colorful and less reflective screen next to last year's iPad Air.

The envy of your classmates, the Air 2 comes with a theft deterrent, thanks to Apple's Touch ID fingerprint sensor. The only thing to worry about is the space-limited 16GB model, so Apple fans might want to splurge for more storage if they're able.

Read the full review: iPad Air 2

Back to School

Nexus 9

The greatest tablet yet from Google

Google's HTC-made Nexus 9 is the Goldilocks of pure Android tablets in both size and price. Its 8.9-inch display fits right in between the Nexus 10 and Nexus 7. And while it's a little more expensive than its 7-inch counterpart, it's cheaper than the new iPad.

What makes this tablet the "just right" fairytale for enterprising students is it runs the latest version of stock Android. That means it's far more open to tinkering compared to Apple's device, and it gets the latest software updates directly from Google.

Read the full review: Nexus 9

Back to School

Dell Venue 8 7000

Dude, you're getting a Dell ... tablet?

Students on campus don't carry around Dell Inspiron laptops as much as they used to. But you should seriously mull over this tablet from the reborn computer maker.

It has a sleek aluminum frame that rivals the iPad, ultra-thin dimensions and a pixel-dense 8.4-inch display that puts other regular HD tablets to shame. With a microSD card slot and almost pure Android software, it's only issue is its goofy name.

Read the full review: Dell Venue 8 7000

Back to School

Amazon Fire HD 6

The cheapest tablet we can recommend

Are you looking for an affordable, yet fully functional tablet for under 100 clams? Like with everything else on your Back to School list, Amazon has come through with just the right deal.

Its $99 (or £79) Amazon Fire HD 6 is a miniature version of the online retailer's pricier Fire tablets, yet it runs the same apps and streams all of the same content. Its 6-inch display has its advantages, too – it can fit into nearly any handbag or most back pockets with a little squeeze.

Read the full review: Amazon Fire HD 6

Back to School

Samsung Galaxy Tab S

The best Samsung tablet around

Samsung makes the most popular Android phones, so it's natural to want one of its tablets. The only problem is that there are so many models to choose from. The Sammy slate to go with is easy: the Galaxy Tab S.

The stunning Super AMOLED screen has to be seen to honestly appreciate it, and there are two sizes: 8.4- and 10.5 inches. Of course, the smaller size keeps the price low and is a better fit for most students' already-stuffed backpacks.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S

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