Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

What the cool kids are using now

Every year, around this time, I invigilate an open-book group assessment activity at the university where I work. Because it’s open book, students can bring their own textbooks and computers with them to refer to material on the internet.

Most of the students doing the assessment are in the 19-22 age range. Whilst it’s only a small sample, it’s useful to know what devices students use nowadays in the real world.

Three years ago, I wrote up my findings, and a few things have changed since 2011. Back then, around a quarter had netbooks, and there were only a couple of tablets in use – both of which were iPads.

This year, normal-sized laptops still dominated and were in use by two thirds of the students. I saw just the one netbook, by comparison. The other third were tablets, around half of which were Android tablets and the other half iPads, with one Microsoft Surface tablet (couldn’t tell from a distance whether it was an ARM-based Surface or an Intel-based Surface Pro).

Of the laptops, probably 20% were MacBooks with the rest all running Windows. Pleasingly, for someone with an interest in computer system security, none of them were still running Windows XP, and I didn’t see any running Windows Vista either as far as I could tell. Some were running Windows 8 and at least one was a touch-enabled laptop.

None of the students using tablets had brought keyboards to use with them, so I’m guessing that they aren’t primary devices and they have a ‘main’ computer at home. It’s interesting to see how prevalent they were, and how many more students are using them as study aids compared with three years ago. And it’s interesting to note that netbooks have fallen out of favour so quickly.

As for web browsers, Google Chrome seemed to be the most popular, followed by Internet Explorer. I didn’t see anyone using Opera or Firefox this time. Even the Mac users seemed to prefer Chrome over any other web browser.

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