Best Tablets for College Students

Last Updated on December 15, 2022 by Ernests Embutnieks and Saad

Laptops have long stood the test of time as the de-facto standard for any student who wants to get work done in school, college/university. But, with tablets now providing reasonable performance, better battery life, and features like styluses, they’ve been more prominent in classrooms to date.

With that said, the popularity of tablets in classrooms has also led to tons of them popping up in the marketplace. And, while I’m a great fan of competition, there definitely are tablets that I’d prefer over the other in terms of their performance and appeal in the classroom.

So, today, we’re going to be looking at the best tablets for college students from my experience as a humble student and now an avid tech fan!

What Do Students Look For In A Tablet?

I think before we list down the best tablets for students, it’s integral to look at what exactly makes a particular tablet good for students. For every demographic, there’s some particular feature set or hardware solution that makes sense.

Therefore, we’re going to be listing down a few key metrics that most students tend to look for when purchasing a tablet.

Portability & Battery Life

This one’s a no-brainer. You don’t want to spend half the day carrying a 6 lbs piece of brick, and neither do you want to charge it every two lectures. A tablet meant for students should be relatively light and should also have a battery life that lasts at least 7 hours at the bare minimum.

Of course, any extra battery life is a welcome addendum. But it should last a full school day without the need for it to be plugged in.

Accessory Support

Having a great stylus, and an excellent third-party keyboard just increases the number of dimensions you can take your tablet to. Being able to take notes, type up important documents with a keyboard, or having great cases that act as kickstands can increase your mobility with any tablet.

Therefore, I’ve placed great emphasis on ensuring that tablets in this list also have great accessories that complement their feature set delightfully.

Software Support

Students tend not to have the funds to keep purchasing tablets every year. It makes more sense for a student to purchase a nice tablet at the start of their college years and then keep using it till its very end.

So, tablets that only pump out one Android update and then call it quits simply don’t make it in this list. This is because there are a ton of applications, especially ones used in the educational space, that function better with the latest version of Android / any other tablet-based OS.

Durability

Alright, so here, I don’t mean that your tablet should survive a nuclear attack. What I mean is that your tablet should be able to uphold the test of time. It shouldn’t experience any discoloration after time, and neither should you notice any signs of wear and tear after a few years of usage.

For this, we took the tablet’s materials into account. Cheap plastic is not going to cut it after a year or two, while materials like aluminum are going to be laster for much longer.

Best Tablet For Students
1. iPad Pro M2
  • OS: iPadOS 16
  • CPU GPU: Apple M2
  • Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB
  • RAM: 8GB/16GB
  • Camera: 12 MP Wide (Front), 10 MP Ultra Wide (Rear), 12 MP Ultra Wide (Rear)
  • Display: 11 inch / 12.9 inch
  • Resolution: 2388×1668 / 2732×2048 (~264 ppi)
  • Weight: 1.03 lbs / 1.51 lbs
  • Port: USB-C
  • Battery: 10 hours
Pros
  • M2 chip/fast performance
  • Great battery life
  • Hover functionality
  • Liquid retina XDR display
  • Many drawing/graphic apps
  • Thunderbolt 4
  • Apple Pencil is great
Cons
  • No headphone jack
  • Expensive(especially with accessories)
  • Quite heavy

The iPad Pro M2 is the king of the tablet world, and for a good reason. Equipped with an M2 chip, a beautiful 120 Hz ProMotion Liquid Retina XDR Display (yes, that’s a mouthful), and iPadOS, Apple’s proprietary operating system, there’s a lot to love about the iPad Pro M2.

Design Choices

The iPad Pro M2 comes in two display sizes, 11 inches and 12.9 inches. The only difference between the two is that the larger display size uses a mini LED display while the latter opts for AMOLED instead. You’ll notice much better color accuracy and reproduction on the mini LED display compared to the AMOLED.

Featuring a full aluminum frame and a thickness of 0.2 inches, it’s honestly jaw-dropping as to how Apple incorporated so much power into such a thin and slim design. The chassis itself feels sturdy, and provides you with that premium Apple feel.

The front display is entirely glass with a bezel-less display and a selfie camera that’s oriented in landscape, allowing for much more natural-looking video calls. There’s also a Face ID sensor baked in right into the display, with the iconic notch making a return here too.

Stellar Performance

Imagine throwing a desktop-grade chip into a tablet. Well, that’s what Apple has done with their M-Series lineup of chips making their debut last year. The M2 is a refinement of the M1. While it doesn’t offer insane performance gains, it doesn’t need to in the first place.

The M2 is the best performance you can get in a tablet, period. No other tablet in this list comes close. So, if you are a student who’s into Photoshop and video editing and likes to dabble with games like Genshin Impact, the iPad Pro M2 is the elite choice by virtue of it honing the latest and greatest in chipsets. 

The Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil

The Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil are both examples of accessories done right. The Apple Pencil charges wirelessly and is magnetically attached to the side of the iPad. With applications like Procreate readily available, you can take advantage of features like Apple Pencil Hover and the stylus’ innate sensitivity and accuracy to truly make some creative masterpieces.

For a student, note-taking feels excellent on the iPad. The display makes it feel natural, especially due to the 240 Hz screen refresh rate (not to be confused with the actual refresh rate of the screen.) All in all, I’ve used this iPad extensively myself, and it feels fantastic to take notes with. Plus, I recommend adding in a Paperlike protector for that extra oomph of realism.

The Magic Keyboard doesn’t have an Escape key. Ugh, really annoying. But, besides that, it’s backlit, provides protection to your iPad as it also acts as a case, provides you with an extra USB-C port that lets you connect other accessories, and feels great to type with.

All in all, I really like both the accessories that the iPad Pro M2 offers. The Apple Magic Keyboard and the second Generation of the Apple Pencil both offer something that not a lot of other tablets in this list can.

Best Android Tablet For Students
2. Samsung Galaxy Tab S8/S8+/S8 Ultra
  • OS: Android 13
  • CPU/GPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
  • Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB
  • RAM: 8 GB / 16 GB
  • Camera: 13 MP (Rear) 6 MP Ultra Wide (Rear) 12 MP Ultrawide (Front)
  • Display: 11 inches  / 12.4 inches / 14.6 inches
  • Resolution: 1848 x 2960 (~240 ppi) / 1752 x 2800 (~266 ppi) / 2960 x 1848 (~240 ppi)
  • Weight: 1.1 lbs / 1.25 lbs / 1.60 lbs
  • Port: USB-C
  • Battery: 10 hours
Pros
  • Big & bright display
  • High-end battery life
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Great performance
  • Stylus in the box
     
Cons
  • Pricey
  • Difficult to carry(heavy) especially S8 Ultra
  • No charger in the box
     
     

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 is the greatest the Android world has to offer in terms of design and performance. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 series, in general, is nothing to skimp about. They offer great battery life, stellar cameras, and an aluminum frame, and they are quite portable too.

Equipped with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (the latest from Snapdragon at the time of writing this), the Tab S8 blazes through everything you throw at it. While it’s no M2, we’ve honestly not seen a great amount of difference when it comes to practically using the tablet. 

So, there’s no reason for us to complain and compare when there’s not a lot of difference in the first place. Besides that, we’re met with much better connectivity and an improved camera over its predecessor, the Tab S7. We now have a 13 MP camera at the front and a 6 MP camera in the rear.

The Android Life

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 is the culmination of everything Android. What do I mean by that? Well, as a student, you are going to run into a lot of classes where an iPad simply won’t cut it. For example, you may have to download a .APK file for a particular application that may not be available on the App Store.

Or, you may need to move files around or use your tablet as a USB storage device. In these cases, this is where the versatility of Android comes in. While I can go on and on about other facts, such as not being able to customize your device as much – let’s face it, a student doesn’t really care much about that.

Best Windows Tablet For Students
3. Microsoft Surface Pro 9
  • OS: Windows 11
  • CPU / GPU: 12th Gen Intel Core i5 / i7
  • Storage: 128 / 256 / 512 GB / 1TB
  • RAM: 8 GB / 16 GB / 32GB
  • Camera: 10 MP (Rear), 10 MP (Front)
  • Display: 13 inches
  • Resolution: 2880 x 1920 (~267 ppi)
  • Weight: 3.91 lbs
  • Port: USB-C
  • Battery: Up to 19 hours (5G model)
Pros
  • Powerful processor
  • Thunderbolt 4
  • Big screen (13-inch)
  • Can be used as tablet or laptop
  • Best battery life among tablets 
     
     
Cons
  • Keyboard comes separately
  • It will get expensive with top specs & accessories 

For those looking for more of a conventional laptop experience, the Surface Pro 9 has got you covered. If you arei into applications like OneNote and Outlook, it makes sense for a student to opt for a Surface Pro 9 instead of a Galaxy Tab S8 or an iPad Pro M2.

Plus, the Surface Pro 9 is the only tablet in this list that runs Windows 11. This means that you can do a lot more with the tablet as compared to the other two, from being able to run coding applications like PyCharm and Clion to enjoying VLC Media Player. There are a lot more options.

But, this is also where the Surface Pro 9 falls short, since its a jack of all trades, it also is the master of none. What do I mean by that? Well, Windows 11 still hasn’t reached the fluidity and finesse that iPadOS has reached a while back.

Plus, the Surface Pro 9 also has its Signature Pro keyboard and the Slim Pen 2. But, both these peripherals fall short of Apple’s creation. For instance, the Signature Pro keyboard feels kind of flimsy and jaggedy to type on, while the Slim Pen 2 while imitating the feeling of typing on paper, falls short.

However, I’d still recommend this tablet for anyone who’s going to be coding and doesn’t have a dedicated laptop.

4. iPad Air
  • OS: iPadOS 16
  • CPU / GPU: M1
  • Storage: 64 / 256 GB
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • Camera: 12 MP Wide (Rear), 12 MP Ultrawide (Front)
  • Display: 10.9 inches
  • Resolution: 1540 x 2360 (~264 ppi)
  • Weight: 1.03 lbs
  • Port: USB-C
  • Battery: 10 Hours
Pros
  • Slim & sleek design
  • Excellent cameras with center stage
  • Suitable for almost any purposes
  • Compatible with magic keyboard and apple pencil
  • High-end battery life
     
     
     
Cons
  • No charger
  • No headphone jack 
  • Thin sound
  • No Face-ID 

The iPad Air comes in at a weird spot here. It’s a great tablet, but it certainly doesn’t have the performance or size of an iPad Pro. But…do you really need the performance and size of an iPad Pro for studies?

If you were majoring in Computer Science like me, more firepower would make sense. But, for the average Joe who doesn’t need to code or edit videos, the iPad Air is more of a reasonable pick simply by virtue of it being less expensive and supporting the same exact features as the rest of the iPad Pro.

You can use the second generation of the Apple Pencil, plug in a Magic Keyboard, and you’ll be good to go. So, if you don’t want the best display, the best speakers or the best performance and instead want an excellent device that’ll last you a while and just works, then the iPad Air is the way to go.

You will save around $200 if you pick iPad Air over the Pro model. You can get AirPods for that money.

Best Budget iPad
5. iPad
  • OS: iPadOS 16
  • CPU / GPU: A15 Bionic
  • Storage: 64 / 256 GB
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • Camera: 12 MP Wide (Rear), 12 MP Ultrawide (Front)
  • Display: 10.9 inches
  • Resolution: 1640 x 2360 (~264 ppi)
  • Weight: 1.02 lbs
  • Port: USB-C
  • Battery: 10 Hours
Pros
  • Good front/back camera
  • Touch ID
  • Good battery life
  • Multiple colors
  • Bigger screen
Cons
  • Only supports Apple Pencil 1
  • Non-laminated display
  • No Face-ID
  • They removed headphone jack

Alright, so practically speaking, there’s no difference between the iPad 10th Gen and the iPad Air for a student. You won’t really notice the performance gains, the tablet doesn’t look that much better, and the display is fine too.

The only factor you’ll be noticing as a student is the lack of support for the second Generation of Apple Pencil. This leaves you in quite a bit of a pickle. You see, the first Generation isn’t charged by plugging it into a USB-C port. Instead, it needs a Lightning port and doesn’t support wireless charging.

But wait, the iPad 10th Gen has a USB-C port. So, how do we charge it? Well, simple. Dongles. You use a USB-C to Lightning Jack adapter to charge your Apple Pencil 1, which then sticks out like a sore thumb with no way to store it, too. 

So, if you don’t take a lot of notes, do your wallet a favor and get the iPad 10th Gen instead of the iPad Air. If not, then the iPad Air makes a lot more sense. Because, trust me, the Apple Pencil sticking out like that will get really annoying quickly. Also, it won’t support Magic Keyboard, but there are some good alternatives. There’s a new keyboard from Apple specifically designed for iPad 10th gen – The Magic Keyboard Folio.

Is iPad Enough For College?

Best Lenovo Tablet For Students
6. Lenovo Tab P12 Pro
  • OS: Android 12
  • CPU / GPU: Snapdragon 870 5G
  • Storage: 128 / 256 GB
  • RAM: 6 / 8 GB
  • Camera: 13 MP Wide (Rear), 5 MP Ultrawide (Rear), 8 MP Wide (Front)
  • Display: 12.6 inches
  • Resolution: 1600 x 2560 (~240 ppi)
  • Weight: 1.25 lbs
  • Port: USB-C
  • Battery: 10-12 hours
Pros
  • Sleek design
  • 2K resolution display 
  • High-end battery life
  • MicroSD slot
  • Stylus support
Cons
  • Accessories not included
  • Average camera
  • Buggy software

The Lenovo Tab P12 Pro is the flagship Android table from Lenovo. And, honestly, I really like it. It features a 120 Hz display sized at 12.6” and brings its stylus, the Lenovo Precision Pen 3, right in the box.

Moreover, it features great battery life and will also support multiple software upgrades. The reason why it isn’t ranked higher in this list is that its size can kind of get a bit too large, especially in a classroom.


And, to be very honest, it doesn’t do a lot to offset its size. The speakers on both the iPad Pro M2 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 series are just plain better. And, the software…ah, the software. Well, its really buggy sometimes. Yes, its running Android, but I wasn’t happy with how it performed.

Couple that with the fact that it has a fairly decent (but underpowered compared to the competition) Snapdragon 870, and you can see where the issues come up. However, for a student who isn’t a fan of Samsung and is fine with a few bugs here, this is a great choice.

Plus, the Lenovo Tab P12 Pro brings out its stylus with a magnetic housing, just like Samsung. It also can be charged wirelessly when its housed that way and features 4096 levels of pressure, just like Samsung’s S Pen. 

I feel like Lenovo just needs an year or two to catch up to Samsung and beat it. For now, it falls slightly short. But, since its priced at lesser, I’d argue it makes up for a compelling buy especially because it goes on sale more often. 

Windows Budget Tablet
7. Microsoft Surface Go 3
  • OS: Windows 11
  • CPU / GPU: 1.1 GHz Intel Pentium Gold | Intel Core i3
  • Storage: 64GB / 128GB
  • RAM: 4GB / 8GB
  • Camera: 5MP Front Facing / 8MP Rear Facing
  • Display: 10.5-inch
  • Resolution: 1920×1280 (220ppi)
  • Weight: 1.19lbs
  • Port: USB-C
  • Battery Life: Up to 11 hours
Pros
  • Good battery life
  • Dual studio mic
  • Dolby Audio speakers
  • Good keyboard / kickstand
  • Face authentication
Cons
  • Small touchpad
  • Battery starts to drain faster after a while

The Surface Go 3 is another budget-oriented Windows tablet that we actually like a lot. With a kickstand, it already beats the iPad (or does it?) With a headphone jack onboard, an SDXC reader, and a USB-C port, the tablet offers a lot more ports than most others in this list.

When it comes to the display, the Surface Go 3, due to its slightly dated design, features a 1920×1080 display with PixelSense technology. For students, what you should care about is that the Surface Go 3 doesn’t come with a keyboard or a stylus. Both of those are purchased separately.

But, since they’re quite cheap, coming in at $99 for the keyboard compared to Apple’s $180 offering with the Smart Keyboard Folio, the pricing does make some sense. For note-taking, the Microsoft Surface Pen is just fine. It needs AAAA batteries to charge, which can be a pain especially if you’re in a pickle.

For a budget-oriented student who also wants to do some really light coding. And, I really emphasize on light over here; the Go 3 is a good pick-up, especially if you find it on sale somewhere.

8. Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite 2022
  • OS: Android 12
  • CPU / GPU: Snapdragon 720G
  • Storage: 64 GB / 128 GB
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Camera: 8 MP Wide (Rear), 5 MP Wide (Front)
  • Display: 10.4 inches
  • Resolution: 1200 x 2000 (~212 ppi)
  • Weight: 1.03 lbs
  • Port: USB 2.0
  • Battery: ~10h
Pros
  • Keyboard & stylus support
  • Dual speakers (Dolby Atmos)
  • Expandable storage of up to 1TB
  • Facial recognition
  • Samsung DeX
Cons
  • No fingerprint sensor
  • The keyboard is sluggish
  • Average performance

Okay, I’m going to go off-tangent here. If you want a good mid-range Android tablet that supports the S-Pen, will get updates for a long time, and has decent performance, just get the S6 Lite 2022.

The tablet does everything right for its price point. It is great for taking notes, Samsung Notes works flawlessly, and since you get an S-Pen out of the box, you can get to taking notes immediately. But let me put that out there if you are looking for gaming, coding, or even Samsung DeX (Samsung’s proprietary desktop experience), go for the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 series.

This tablet, for all intents and purposes, is strictly meant for note-taking and media consumption. It isn’t going to pull through in any reasonable way if you push it beyond what its actually meant for.

Best Small Tablet for School
9. iPad Mini
  • OS: iPadOS 16
  • CPU / GPU: A15 Bionic
  • Storage: 64 GB / 256 GB
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Camera: 12 MP Wide (Front), 12 MP Ultrawide (Rear)
  • Display: 8.3 inches
  • Resolution: 1488 x 2266 (~327 ppi)
  • Weight: 1.32 lbs
  • Port: USB-C
  • Battery: 10 hours
Pros
  • Portable/compact
  • Compatible with Apple Pencil 2
  • Great mic
  • Great speakers
  • Great cameras
  • USB-C
  • LCD display
Cons
  • No headphone jack
  • Hard to take notes if you have big hands
  • No magic keyboard
  • Feels a bit small for works/school

For students, the iPad Mini 6 has two primary issues that you’ll need to be aware of. If these don’t seem like issues to you, then the iPad Mini 6 is an excellent purchase, given that it offers excellent performance with its A15 Bionic chip.

The first constraint for a student is its overall screen size, coming in at about 8.3 inches. It is barely larger than most phones out there. So, the tablet might not provide you with a lot of advantages in the first place.

Second, you do not have access to the Apple Magic Keyboard. Simply put, there’s no keyboard out there from Apple that’s small enough to support the iPad Mini 6. Granted, you can use an external wireless keyboard and connect it seamlessly; it just isn’t the same.

In my opinion, the size fits a particular demographic of students pretty well, those who don’t want to carry bulky bags around and just want to use an iPad for their note-taking device. If that’s the case,e you can just shove the iPad Mini in a pocket with the Apple Pencil and misuse it as your primary studying device. Since the iPad Mini also comes equipped with Cellular, you won’t run into connectivity issues anytime soon.

Best Chrome OS Tablet For School
10. Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5
  • OS: ChromeOS
  • CPU / GPU: Snapdragon 7c Gen 2
  • Storage: 64 GB / 128 GB / 256 GB
  • RAM: 4 GB / 8 GB
  • Camera: 8 MP (Rear), 5 MP (Front)
  • Display: 13.3 inches
  • Resolution: 1920×1080 
  • Weight: 1.5 lbs
  • Port: USB Type-C
  • Battery: up to 15 hours
Pros
  • 2-in-1 device – can be switched to the laptop using a keyboard
  • Impressive battery
  • 70% less blue light 
  • Bright display
Cons
  • A bit on the heavier side at 1.5 lbs (for Chrome OS tablet)
  • No 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Slow charging

I love Chromebooks, and the IdeaPad Duet 5 is an excellent Chromebook! It has a great keyboard, lovely display, and battery life that goes for about 8 hours. For a laptop that’s running a full-fledged OS, that’s stellar. 

It also features a stylus, which works well right out of the box. All in all, the fact that ChromeOS has made its strides over the years turns the IdeaPad Duet 5 into an absolute steal, given its price. If you are a student who doesn’t need to be locked into a particular ecosystem like Windows, Android, or iPadOS, give ChromeOS a try, you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

I’d definitely recommend this tablet to any of the parents out there too. This is because the Chromebook also features tons of great parental control options that’ll give you the peace of mind you deserve as a parent.

Why We Ranked iPad Pro Over The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8

Alright, don’t get us wrong here, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 is an excellent tablet. But, the iPad Pro M2 beats it out by a fair margin due to a few reasons we’re going to be highlighting:

  • iPadOS: iPadOS just feels a lot more fleshed out than Android. This is because Apple’s gone above and beyond to create an OS specifically meant for tablets. So, this means that while Android (in some cases) has places where a tabular display looks like an oversized phone, the iPadOS has more catered and distinct UI elements.
  • Accessories: The Apple Magic Keyboard and Pencil 2 are in a league of their own when it comes to external accessories. While the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 does have its own dedicated S Pen and a keyboard cover, they feel more like after-thoughts in terms of their quality and integration with the OS compared to the iPad Pro. 
  • App Support: Procreate, Photoshop, iMovie, and many other professional-grade applications have paved their way to the iPad first. This is because of the enhanced performance that the iPad gets year after year, thanks to Apple Silicon. And the fact that Apple tends to have better-quality applications on the iPad with its seemingly greater market share.

For a student, all these three points culminate in one thing. The iPad Pro delivers a better tablet experience than the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8. Plain and simple. Whether you are an Android fan or not, the Apple ecosystem really does offer its distinct advantages that Samsung isn’t able to emulate as of yet.

Why Don’t We Recommend Amazon Fire Tablets?

Amazon Fire Tablets are great. The reason why we don’t recommend them for students is that doesn’t have the Google Play Store out of the box. This means that you’ll need to either side-load APK files or just comply with Amazon’s standard applications (which aren’t that great.)

Plus, no Amazon tablet supports a stylus. I feel like this is quite an important metric, especially with more students now taking notes digitally. Plus, Fire tablets are generally catered towards the mid-range / budget segment. So, they don’t really have top-end features such as high-refresh rate screens or insane performance.

But, if you have a child, who also happens to be a student, the Amazon Fire series are excellent for this purpose as they have the best parental controls out of any Android tablet we’ve listed. But, if that’s the case, we also recommend taking a look at the iPad 10th Generation as it also supports a stylus and will definitely have longer software support.

So, when your child grows up and wants to take notes digitally, or, if you want to present them with more freedom, the iPad will p[rovide you with better avenues to do so.

Verdict

In my opinion, all these tablets are great options for students. But, we’re going to be listing down our top picks for each category:

  • Best Overall: The iPad Pro ranks as the best overall. With the M2 inside it, the performance, note-taking, and accessories that Apple provides are simply the best for students.
  • Best for Budget: The S6 Lite (2022) is an excellent budget tablet that comes with an S-Pen included for note-taking. It isn’t meant for gaming, but the overall performance is still quite decent. 
  • Best for Note-Taking: The iPad Air remains the best tablet for note-taking. This is because it comes at a nice price, supports the Apple Pencil 2, has applications like Procreate and OneNote with excellent battery life coming in a portable frame. 
  • Best Android: The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Series provides us with the best Android tablets out there. So, if you are a fan of an Android tablet, the Tab S8 series is where it is at. 
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I love tech and all about it. I'm interested in finding ways how they can make my life more productive, and I share my knowledge with my blog readers. I'm an iPad Pro, iPhone, MacBook, and Apple Watch user, so I know a thing or two about these devices and try to write helpful content around these topics.

Content Creator | + posts

Saad is excellent at what he does. He's a tech fanatic. He strives to improve himself wherever he can. He tries to make each article he writes a little better than before. He explains difficult things in a very simple way.