With the holiday giving season upon us, gift givers may be pondering the many options available for purchase. During this festive time of year, electronic devices are popular choices to give a loved one, whether the recipient is a student or a grandparent. Knowing the right device for the user could be a challenge if you’re not aware of the functionalities and differences between the device types. Are you thinking about buying a mobile device such as a laptop, Chrome, or iPad, for someone soon? From an educator’s perspective, here are considerations as you decide on the best device to give your loved one. To help you make a more informed decision, here’s my educator’s view on some of the popular devices.

Traditional Laptop 

These devices are great for power users who need a sizable amount of local storage and processing power—gamers, those who like to edit photographs, those who use their laptops for work, budding engineers and programmers (but they might want to pick out their own device specific to their needs). If you purchase a traditional laptop—whether it’s a Mac or a PC—make sure that it’s running Microsoft Windows or Apple OS and that the user knows to install antivirus software. Beware of low-cost Windows devices. Device manufacturers are publishing great deals this time of year, but those machines lack the advanced applications that PCs and Macbooks have.

Chrome Device 

At a reasonable price point in the low hundreds, Chrome devices are great for users to utilize web apps to complete their tasks. These tasks could be banking, word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, social media, online software, access to class assignments and homework, etc. Chromebooks store almost all of their data in the cloud, so there is little to no data loss if a device is damaged. You’ll never have to worry about losing another homework assignment or essay again, thanks to cloud-based data on a Chromebook. Although Chrome devices have come a long way over the past few years, they are not the best device for those who are gamers or have high-end processing needs. They also have limitations on what types of productivity apps can be installed, such as Adobe programs.

Tablet 

Do you have someone in your life that loves their iPhone but needs a larger screen? The new iPad has a screen that allows users to read e-books in sunlight and can run almost all of the same apps as an iPhone. These devices do not require antivirus software with the correct apps that can use the power of Google Drive and Microsoft Office. There are even apps for photo and video editing. In addition to Apple’s iPad, Samsung, Amazon, and Microsoft have their own mobile tablets for on-the-go, app-based tech use. Although these devices have limited productivity, students love tablets because of their portability on a larger screen size than the phone. Whether it's kickstarting the early learner in your life or engaging older students in a more dynamic way, a device like Microsoft Surface delivers value all around.

Each giver/buyer needs to determine what device is best for the actual user who’s receiving the gift. Figuring out their needs and wants may be worth a conversation before making a purchase.  Even in my family, some users have iPads, other have Chromebooks, my accountant mother requires a rather robust Windows machine, and I use a Macbook for my personal and business needs. If you are purchasing for a student, it’s best to find out what devices they are using at school so they can continue working in the same applications at home.