Undergraduate students at the J. B. Speed School of Engineering are required to have a mobile computer meeting certain minimum specifications.
Tablet computers are laptops with a digital pen that allow students to write and draw on the screen. In addition to inking capability, the tablet must be capable of running Windows software used by the engineering school.
The operating system is the software that allows a computer to start and run other applications. Speed requires 64-bit Windows 10 Pro. Windows is required because much of the software used by engineering students at Speed will run only on the Windows platform. That rules out many devices include Apple devices, Google Chrome devices and other small slate type tablets.
The Central Processing Unit does all of the calculation in the computer. Modern software applications require newer processors. The i5 and i7 processor designation refers to processors made by Intel Corporation. The i5 and i7 are designed for high end scientific, engineering, business or gaming use. The i7 has more memory on the chip itself, called cache memory, which makes it a little faster. It has a higher clock speed and is able to run multiple tasks a little faster. The i7 is more expensive than the i5. Although the AMD corporation produces processors that may perform similarly to the Intel processors, we have not evaluated them.
Random Access Memory is where programs are stored while they run. As a rule, the more RAM that is available the better programs will run, particularly when several applications are being used at the same time. The minimum required by Speed is 16 Gigabytes of RAM. Many tablets do not allow RAM to be upgraded after purchase, so don’t count on buying more later.
While RAM is used to store the program while it is running, files and applications are stored permanently on the hard disk drive or in many new tablets on a solid state drive. Either a hard drive, which contains a spinning disk, or a solid state drive that contains no moving parts, are acceptable storage devices. Computers with SSD drives operate faster but may contain less storage space than a conventional disk drive. The Speed minimum recommendation for disk drives is 256 Gigabytes. Users might want to purchase a USB connected hard drive for additional storage.
The wireless connection allows the tablet to connect to other devices and the internet. We require an 802.11 ac dual band wireless card or better for use across campus.
Speed requires a digital or active pen for writing on the pen-enabled tablet, as opposed to a slate or some other device that uses a simple stylus without internal electronics. One brand of digital pen is made by Wacom. Some professors suggest using Wacom because they are easily replaced and students can share pens in an emergency. Some tablets use other kinds of digital pens such as Intel, Synaptics, N-trig and others.
Your tablet should have all of the required peripherals in order to telecommute to campus. These items include a webcam, microphone and speaker. Most modern tablets include all of these devices but it doesn’t hurt to double check.