Question regarding tablet/laptop for current medical school students?

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Osiris Wintereisse
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Just wanted to get some input as to what the preferable form factor for medical school is, as I have come across a lot of different recommendations. I will be starting this coming September.

I definitely need a laptop, as I will be doing some part-time work for a VC company which needs a proper keyboard, however I am torn between whether I should get a stand-alone laptop or a hybrid like the Microsoft Surface Pro.

I am slightly concerned about the hybrid, as it's a lot pricier and I have had pretty bad experiences in the past with hybrids, but any input would be greatly appreciated!
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Parent_help
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(Original post by Osiris Wintereisse)
Just wanted to get some input as to what the preferable form factor for medical school is, as I have come across a lot of different recommendations. I will be starting this coming September.

I definitely need a laptop, as I will be doing some part-time work for a VC company which needs a proper keyboard, however I am torn between whether I should get a stand-alone laptop or a hybrid like the Microsoft Surface Pro.

I am slightly concerned about the hybrid, as it's a lot pricier and I have had pretty bad experiences in the past with hybrids, but any input would be greatly appreciated!
Up to you, but here's one strategy which may suit.

Base your medicine studies around a Surface hybrid (which saves to the cloud) and a cheap desktop in your room.
The initial expense of a Surface will quickly pay off with quicker boot up times, long battery life, features (rear camera), and ease of use.
Remember that your primary focus is passing Medicine after 5 years, so use the best way to do that.
With that in mind, I'd use a cheap desktop for the VC work.Games etc, and only use the Surface for Medicine studies

So your day goes like this...
- If you want to view recorded lectures, stay at digs and view on your cheap desktop, make practise notes etc while you are in a comfortable seating position with everything you need at hand

- If VC work, as above (desktop)

- If Group work or Lectures, take your "handy" Hybrid with you - you can easily capture whiteboard images with "Office Lens" and use a blutooth mouse/keyboard

- If on placement, take your "handy" Hybrid (this is where the long battery life is essential) - view videos, write emails, catch up or whatever - its a lot lighter to carry than a laptop.

Also, remember that you will need a decent phone (with email support) and that you need to sync up your calendar reminders, contact lists etc between all three devices.

IMO, you have to get this sorted BEFORE you go to medical school. In other words, be technologically prepared and you need to have great internet access too (in your room)

Once you get to medical school, consider that you have to adapt to the massive onslaught of information and this is where familiarity in using a digital system helps (e.g. using onenote saving data to the cloud).

Its not just a "which laptop" thing, its more about "having a method on how to study" thing

Things may change when you get to medical school, but if you have already prepared yourself with the main concepts of "how am I going to record what to to learn so I can study it easily", then it will be easier to adapt.
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Osiris Wintereisse
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(Original post by Parent_help)
Up to you, but here's one strategy which may suit.

Base your medicine studies around a Surface hybrid (which saves to the cloud) and a cheap desktop in your room.
The initial expense of a Surface will quickly pay off with quicker boot up times, long battery life, features (rear camera), and ease of use.
Remember that your primary focus is passing Medicine after 5 years, so use the best way to do that.
With that in mind, I'd use a cheap desktop for the VC work.Games etc, and only use the Surface for Medicine studies

So your day goes like this...
- If you want to view recorded lectures, stay at digs and view on your cheap desktop, make practise notes etc while you are in a comfortable seating position with everything you need at hand

- If VC work, as above (desktop)

- If Group work or Lectures, take your "handy" Hybrid with you - you can easily capture whiteboard images with "Office Lens" and use a blutooth mouse/keyboard

- If on placement, take your "handy" Hybrid (this is where the long battery life is essential) - view videos, write emails, catch up or whatever - its a lot lighter to carry than a laptop.

Also, remember that you will need a decent phone (with email support) and that you need to sync up your calendar reminders, contact lists etc between all three devices.

IMO, you have to get this sorted BEFORE you go to medical school. In other words, be technologically prepared and you need to have great internet access too (in your room)

Once you get to medical school, consider that you have to adapt to the massive onslaught of information and this is where familiarity in using a digital system helps (e.g. using onenote saving data to the cloud).

Its not just a "which laptop" thing, its more about "having a method on how to study" thing

Things may change when you get to medical school, but if you have already prepared yourself with the main concepts of "how am I going to record what to to learn so I can study it easily", then it will be easier to adapt.
Thank you for the response.

I currently have a custom built desktop which is a power monster so as per your recommendation I have that checked. But I will be starting the accelerated graduate entry medical program, so I will be spending a lot of time away from home and I would probably need to do the part time work away from my desktop. This is why I am slightly leaning towards a laptop with a proper keyboard etc and current ultrabooks seem to weigh so little. I am open to the surface pro, but I am concerned about whether I really would use all its functionalities. I previously had a hybrid and I just found the whole experience awkward, trying to switch it around etc. What are your experience with the surface pro?
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nexttime
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I agree that a portable device with a proper keyboard is a must. You will be spending weeks away from 'home' in :dolphin::dolphin::dolphin::dolphin::dolphin:y DGH accommodation so a desktop won't cut it.

Using a USB/bluetooth keyboard might be an option to add to some devices though.
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theresheglows
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Laptop, without question. I don't know anyone who brings a desktop to uni - they're bulky and difficult to transport for moving in and out of halls and there may not be much room for it anyway.
A tablet on it's own doesn't cut it for me for on the move - it's fine for looking stuff up or reading lecture notes when I'm on placement as it's smaller and more lightweight and easier to carry in my bag than a laptop, but for lectures and essay-type assignments it falls short imo - you need a proper keyboard. Everyone I know has a macbook air or similar.
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Ghotay
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Gonna stick up for desktops here. I've never owned a laptop and had a pc all through uni and had no problems, and I know plenty of other people who have done the same. On away placements I use hospital computers and my phone, and probably end up doing more work than I would with all the distractions of having my own computer around.

In fact the only problem I've had with having a pc has come this year where ai live in a large sociable house and everyone hangs out in the living room on their laptops but I'm stuck on my todd in my room. Still probably means I end up doing more work though


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Osiris Wintereisse
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(Original post by theresheglows)
Laptop, without question. I don't know anyone who brings a desktop to uni - they're bulky and difficult to transport for moving in and out of halls and there may not be much room for it anyway.
A tablet on it's own doesn't cut it for me for on the move - it's fine for looking stuff up or reading lecture notes when I'm on placement as it's smaller and more lightweight and easier to carry in my bag than a laptop, but for lectures and essay-type assignments it falls short imo - you need a proper keyboard. Everyone I know has a macbook air or similar.
Do you use the tablet a lot, or use the stylus for note taking purposes? I am now torn between
1. Microsoft Surface Book - which to all intends and purposes is a true hybrid. The only problem is that it's quite heavy for an 'ultrabook' (not a deal breaker but something that is an issue for me)
2. Microsoft Surface Pro 4 - it's lightweight, can act as a laptop, but a new model is coming out soon and the keyboard and mouse doesn't really compare vs a proper laptop.
3. Or just a full out laptop only - which is cheaper and I can get higher performance.


The desktop isn't really an issue, I will be staying in private accommodation.

Thank you in advance for your advice!
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theresheglows
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(Original post by Osiris Wintereisse)
Do you use the tablet a lot, or use the stylus for note taking purposes? I am now torn between
1. Microsoft Surface Book - which to all intends and purposes is a true hybrid. The only problem is that it's quite heavy for an 'ultrabook' (not a deal breaker but something that is an issue for me)
2. Microsoft Surface Pro 4 - it's lightweight, can act as a laptop, but a new model is coming out soon and the keyboard and mouse doesn't really compare vs a proper laptop.
3. Or just a full out laptop only - which is cheaper and I can get higher performance.


The desktop isn't really an issue, I will be staying in private accommodation.

Thank you in advance for your advice!
I don't use a tablet even half as much as I use my laptop. I suppose it depends how you work, I've seen the odd person with a tablet and attached keyboard and I've known 2 people who'e used a stylus - they don't always keep up with the pace you need to be taking notes at in lectures. Most people have laptops or write notes by hand.
I take my iPad mini to placement as it's small and lightweight and I can use it for internet access to look things up and to look at the lecture slides for revising when I have a moment.
I have a Macbook Air for everything else - I really prefer a proper keyboard for typing notes on the lecture slides, typing up notes, typing up essays/projects/case-based assignments etc. It's also just light enough that carrying it to lectures is not a problem.
If I had to only have one of them, it would be my macbook.
It's very difficult to know before you start how you're going to prefer working, this is just what works for me. I would say if you can get a very light laptop then that would be ideal, if you really don't want to be carrying much with you then the surface pro 4 or something similar which can act a bit as a laptop might be better for you - I have thought about experimenting with this but can't afford to at the moment so can't say unfortunately how well it works.
You'll need as much memory as you can get in whatever device you decide to go for though.
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Osiris Wintereisse
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(Original post by theresheglows)
I don't use a tablet even half as much as I use my laptop. I suppose it depends how you work, I've seen the odd person with a tablet and attached keyboard and I've known 2 people who'e used a stylus - they don't always keep up with the pace you need to be taking notes at in lectures. Most people have laptops or write notes by hand.
I take my iPad mini to placement as it's small and lightweight and I can use it for internet access to look things up and to look at the lecture slides for revising when I have a moment.
I have a Macbook Air for everything else - I really prefer a proper keyboard for typing notes on the lecture slides, typing up notes, typing up essays/projects/case-based assignments etc. It's also just light enough that carrying it to lectures is not a problem.
If I had to only have one of them, it would be my macbook.
It's very difficult to know before you start how you're going to prefer working, this is just what works for me. I would say if you can get a very light laptop then that would be ideal, if you really don't want to be carrying much with you then the surface pro 4 or something similar which can act a bit as a laptop might be better for you - I have thought about experimenting with this but can't afford to at the moment so can't say unfortunately how well it works.
You'll need as much memory as you can get in whatever device you decide to go for though.
Thank you for your input again. I completely agree with what you say about having a proper laptop, I had an asus hybrid in the past before and still have PTSD over how it failed to perform spectacularly as both a tablet and laptop. With some trepidation I went to curry's yesterday and I was blown away by how good the surface pro 4 was (although it is pricey), the keyboard and mouse performed better than most of the outright ultrabooks, and the specs are pretty damn good too. It's super light as well.

The surface book which is supposed to be more the laptop over a tablet was good, except it's pretty heavy for portable use and quite thick.

May I ask why you emphasise on the memory?
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theresheglows
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(Original post by Osiris Wintereisse)
May I ask why you emphasise on the memory?
Only because, in my experience at least, medicine as a subject is quite heavy on memory, you end up downloading tons of stuff - lecture slides, handbooks, practical/lab workbooks etc, plus all the pieces of work you do (even more if you intercalate and have to type up a dissertation - mine with all the data and drafts came to 25GB)
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Osiris Wintereisse
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(Original post by theresheglows)
Only because, in my experience at least, medicine as a subject is quite heavy on memory, you end up downloading tons of stuff - lecture slides, handbooks, practical/lab workbooks etc, plus all the pieces of work you do (even more if you intercalate and have to type up a dissertation - mine with all the data and drafts came to 25GB)
Oh I see, phew, that's not too large. I thought you were saying around tb levels...
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theresheglows
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(Original post by Osiris Wintereisse)
Oh I see, phew, that's not too large. I thought you were saying around tb levels...
No, not quite that bad! Just checked, and at this point (3rd year) all the notes etc I have saved to my macbook comes to around 50GB (about 1/3 of the used memory on my macbook), which is nothing to a laptop, but it's why I don't just use a normal tablet on it's own (I'm a bit paranoid about running out of memory as it's happened on a tablet and 2 phones so far). Just had a quick look at the surface pro 4 specs - looks very nice! and it looks like it would be able to handle this just fine, especially if you can afford the 256gb ssd.

Battery life is also something to consider - not all lecture halls have power points for you to charge from if you're there all day, from this point of view a tablet may have the edge over a laptop.
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Parent_help
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Couple of points
- A Surface 4 is vastly superior to an Asus hybrid
- The outside world uses windows and Microsoft office. Get Microsoft Office 365 (Student) and you get integrated 1TB cloud storage
- You shouldn't need more than 128 Gig (if used soley for medicine)
- Whilst local storage is fine, always use the cloud. You'd be devasted if 4 years notes dissappeared just when you needed it most? (before exams)
- If you have a cheap desktop, install a 480 Gig SSD - easy to do and the speed is dramatically improved (10 sec boot up time)
- Always have 2 devices, one permanent and the other mobile - and make sure you share the data across devices (use the cloud) - if one goes bust/missing, you have a backup device and it just might save your sanity when you're working flat out to get something finished at 4am.
- For the mobile scenarios that are likely for a medicine student, a surface (with rear camera) fits better than a laptop. If a keyboard is a must, then carrying a separate bluetooth keyboard and mouse is better than a crappy laptop keyboard and trackpad anyway
- If you really have to have a better display in your digs, then its easy enough to pipe the display to a separate monitor.
- The only time a laptop is better is if you have to balance it on your knees or use it on a shaky train
- Apple Macs are good compromise if you only want to use one device, but there is always the problem of using something that no-one really uses outside of academia
- You will learn better if you set aside a specific area for working (with all your books etc, where you are sitting comfortably at the correct height - this where a desktop is best. Also, the fact that a desktop is large, means it is less likely to be stolen in a break-in (it can be securely tied).
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Osiris Wintereisse
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(Original post by Parent_help)
Couple of points
- A Surface 4 is vastly superior to an Asus hybrid
- The outside world uses windows and Microsoft office. Get Microsoft Office 365 (Student) and you get integrated 1TB cloud storage
- You shouldn't need more than 128 Gig (if used soley for medicine)
- Whilst local storage is fine, always use the cloud. You'd be devasted if 4 years notes dissappeared just when you needed it most? (before exams)
- If you have a cheap desktop, install a 480 Gig SSD - easy to do and the speed is dramatically improved (10 sec boot up time)
- Always have 2 devices, one permanent and the other mobile - and make sure you share the data across devices (use the cloud) - if one goes bust/missing, you have a backup device and it just might save your sanity when you're working flat out to get something finished at 4am.
- For the mobile scenarios that are likely for a medicine student, a surface (with rear camera) fits better than a laptop. If a keyboard is a must, then carrying a separate bluetooth keyboard and mouse is better than a crappy laptop keyboard and trackpad anyway
- If you really have to have a better display in your digs, then its easy enough to pipe the display to a separate monitor.
- The only time a laptop is better is if you have to balance it on your knees or use it on a shaky train
- Apple Macs are good compromise if you only want to use one device, but there is always the problem of using something that no-one really uses outside of academia
- You will learn better if you set aside a specific area for working (with all your books etc, where you are sitting comfortably at the correct height - this where a desktop is best. Also, the fact that a desktop is large, means it is less likely to be stolen in a break-in (it can be securely tied).
Thank you for the advice. My desktop is vastly overpowered and overclocked so no worries there and I back up everything live-time via Crashplan. It does sound as if the Surface Pro 4 would be the best bet, especially with the recent price drop.

I will set aside a specific area for working!
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Zahid~
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(Original post by Parent_help)
Couple of points
Which Hybrid Desktop combo would you recommend for the average medicine student.
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screamer18
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Hey! I need some help too please, im starting med school in september at Edinburgh and i dont know what to get. I own a lenovo laptop which i plan to take up and keep in my room, as its pretty heavy and kinda slow (its 2 years old). So i was thinking a tablet with a light keyboard would be ideal for taking to lectures and for making very neat but handwritten notes. So i was sort of thinking the iPad Pro with the apple pencil? But i seem to find constantly contrasting reviews of this product, some students saying its a life saver and pretty perfect and others saing its no good. Please help! not sure what to do
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