Survey: Personal Computers Remain Top Campus Tool, Tablets Growing

Tablets are outselling desktop computers and laptops worldwide, but on college campus personal computers remain the most popular piece of technology. Deloitte recently announced the results of the annual “Back to school” survey, which found that the college campus is the one place where PCs have not fallen out of fashion, according to Quentin Fottrell of Marketwatch.

The survey found that desktop and laptop computers are the most popular gadgets among college students. According to the survey, some 82% of college students own PCs and 80% have smartphones, while just 18% own tablets.

“The combination of smartphones and laptops makes the tablet redundant for students,” says Brent Schoenbaum, a partner in the retail practice at Deloitte. They work on PCs and access social media via smartphone, he says.

Laptops and desktop computer are students’ top choice for several reasons. PCs serve the needs of students more efficiently, like allowing students to take notes easily, type faster than on tablets, and multitask more easily than mobile devices. A lightweight laptop like the Macbook Air can perform most operations serviced by a tablet.

While tablets are getting better at innovating — with cases that double as keyboards and new digital pens — it’s still easier to take notes on a laptop or desktop keyboard, says Mark Spoonauer, editor-in-chief at LaptopMag.com. And while physical keyboards are available for the iPad and other tablets, the traditional Windows desktop interface is easier for multitasking than Android or iOS tablets, he says.

“You can’t throw a party in your dorm room and use your tablet as your main speakers,” Ramirez says. Not only can students write a paper on a PC, he says, they can also listen to music, stream Netflix and even play video games. “All those experiences are optimized for the PC because you have a bigger screen and better audio,” Ramirez says.

Also, computers appeal to students because of their power to pricec ratio. Desktop PCs are cheaper with prices starting at $200 for a dual-core desktops, while the iPad Mini costs $329.

PC makers also offer subsidies and other incentives for students to buy computers, but there is no such deal for tablets or iPads. For example, Dell University offers $230 off the $649 retail price for students buying an IdeaTab Lynx tablet/laptop hybrid. Hewlett Packard’s “HP Academy” student program offers discounts like $200 off a select PC and tablet priced at $999 or more.

Apple’s “Educational Pricing” also offers $200 off a new iMac, which start at around $949. The company’s student offers for iPads are somewhat more restricted. Apple offers a free $50 app gift card with selected iPad purchases for qualifying students.

Overall, tablets sales are growing worldwide and are still expected to overtake PCs. By the end of 2013, worldwide tablet shipments are forecast to grow nearly 59% to 230 million units. A recent report by research group IDC found that tablet shipments are expected to overtake laptop shipments this year and all PCs by 2015.