With the recent appearance of netbooks and low-cost tablet PCs, a study was undertaken to explore their potential in the classroom and determine which of the two device types is more suitable in this setting. A collaborative learning activity based on these devices was implemented in 5 sessions of a graduate engineering course of 20 students, most of whom were aged 22-25 and enrolled in undergraduate computer science and information technology engineering programs. Student behavior attributes indicating oral and gesture-based communication were observed and evaluated. Our findings indicate that in the context in which this study was undertaken, tablet PCs strengthen collective discourse capabilities and facilitate a richer and more natural body language. The students preferred tablet PCs to netbooks and also indicated greater self-confidence in expressing their ideas with the tablet's digital ink and paper technology than with the netbooks' traditional vertical screen and keyboard arrangement.