A Student's iPad Experience - 8 months later

Discussion in 'iPad Reviews' started by Superbike81, Dec 19, 2010.

  1. Superbike81

    Superbike81 iPad Addict

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    I know this is long, but I wanted to really illustrate my experiences with the iPad at the university level.

    I bought the iPad originally to be my primary tool for school. I intended to have as many of my textbooks as possible on the iPad as well as take notes, record lectures, do research, and use it as a study aid as well.

    Over these last eight months, I have forced myself to use the iPad and only the iPad while at school. Of course I type research papers and such at home on my desktop, but I use the iPad for essentially everything else.

    In the end, I have determined the device just isn't quite up to par for being a laptop replacement in a University environment. I know the iPad was not meant to be a laptop replacement which is why I kept my laptop, but I was hoping with the limited tasks required for most classes (typing, reading, web research, etc) I thought it had excellent potential.

    Postives:

    First, I'll talk about the things I love about the iPad for school.

    - I saved about $1000 on textbooks this year just by purchasing e-textbooks to be viewed on the iPad through CourseSmart.

    -The auto-correct text feature is very good about correcting my fat finger typing errors due to the touch screen keyboard.

    -It replaced thousands of paper flashcards that I carried with me for the memorization portions of classwork, it works amazingly as a flash card viewer with the right apps.

    -I was able to take everything in one device, my books, notes, study material, voice recorder, etc, the iPad consolidated all of that into one.

    -The battery life could actually last me through two or more consecutive two hour and thirty minute classes which is more than I can say for my HP laptop.

    There are more things I liked, but this is a list of the major features.

    Negatives:

    Now, the things that drove me almost crazy.

    - The auto-correct feature is HORRIBLE for correcting names and technical words. So many times I tried to type in a person's name or a scientific word and the iPad corrects it to a word that has nothing to do with what I was typing. I know I could have turned it off, but then it doesn't correct my fat finger typos. Supposedly it has a learning feature, but it never worked for me, it corrected the same words over and over again, even when I hit the "X" multiple times.

    - Not being able to have multiple windows tiled for notes and books was a real pain, and that meant I had to bring a notepad with me most of the time anyways to take notes if I wanted to have the book open as well. I tried taking notes within the CourseSmart app, but it was clumsy at best.

    - I can't put my finger on why exactly, but I retained less information while reading e-textbooks on the iPad as I did when I read a standard textbook. It took me twice as long to complete a section because I kept having to go back and read it again.

    - Not being able to keep my scientific textbooks that I could go to for research in the future was a big deal, which meant many of my books still needed to be bought the normal way.

    - I know it's been beaten to death, but the file system is a big negative for me. I know there are apps available that allow me to access files wirelessly but they are simply workarounds that complicate and slow the issue.

    - Pages could really be a great app, but I found it very clunky when formatting documents, so I never did any serious typing on it, just notes.

    - Many of the web pages my professors have used to reference info are encoded in Flash or use heavy Java-script (the iPad only has a limited Java capability). While other students viewed the info on their laptops, I had to scoot over so I could watch someone's screen.

    - Selecting text to do anything with is a pain in the ass, and that's being nice about it.

    - Sometimes it really is nice to have a mouse.


    Conclusion:

    Overall I still like the iPad, it's great for taking study breaks and watching videos or playing games, but I just don't think it would work as a primary tool for any serious student. If you are a math major, physics, or anything else scientific, you need a laptop.

    My final conclusion is that I will keep the iPad until a good Android 3.0 tablet is available at which point it will be replaced and probably given to my wife. I will be upgrading my laptop a MacBook Pro in April when they release their updated models. The MacBook Pro does more than the iPad will without any of the iPad's limitations, and still has a healthy 9-11hr battery life under regular usage (several websites have tested this and it's true.)
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2010
  2. 4phun

    4phun iPad Junkie

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    Good points, I emailed that to a friend.

    Android I think is a non starter. The right Apple products will always produce the best experience.
     
  3. Superbike81

    Superbike81 iPad Addict

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    I didn't want to mention Android because I figured it would become a topic of conversation, but I did want to say exactly what I'm planning. I want the Android tablet over the iPad for other reasons, but that's another discussion.


    I really gave the iPad a chance to work with me at school, and it did make many things easier, but it made many more things too difficult to overlook. Like I said, it's a great device, I just wanted to give a realistic review so students who are contemplating using it as their primary school device as I was.
     
  4. SingingSabre

    SingingSabre iPad Junkie

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    Sorbet vs. ice cream.

    Android is great, as is iOS.

    Ford vs. Chevy.

    Etc. :)
     
  5. miket5au

    miket5au iPad Fan

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    You took along time (8 months) to decide a laptop is the best tool. When I went to University we did not have tablets or laptops but I think a laptop is a much better choice then a tablet. When they show lectures on TV they don't normally have lots of students tapping away on laptops. The noise would be distracting. SO I assume we are really talking about tutorials and workshops.

    To be fair all of your criticisms of the iPad (even the file access one - you still need to do some setup on Android to get wireless file transfers working - there is a reason DropBox is available on Android as well) apply just as strongly to any other tablet. None of them (except maybe Windows or generic Linux based ones) allow tiling applications and none make it easy to switch apps quickly (on the iPad double press the home button and select an app is better than the way Android 2.1 and 2.2 do it). There is also little difference in connecting the iPad to a computer and removing an SD card, plugging it into a computer to transfer files, putting it back in the tablet etc. Of course some people hate iTunes :-(

    In the end it comes down to what your needs are. I went to an iPad from an Android tablet because the hardware / screen are better and that matters a lot. I think the aspect ratio of the iPad is better for reading books, magazines and comics than the 16:9 or 16:10 android tablets. It is also nearly true that "there is an app for that!"

    In the future the Xoom and other tablets may actually be available to try over here and that will level the playing field a little. At the moment if you have a tablet everyone say "Oh is that an iPad?"
     
  6. wytey

    wytey iPad Junkie

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    tbh, if I were to go back to college etc, I'd use paper and pen, I can write and doodle faster than I can type and draw on an iPad or laptop

    although the benefit of an iPad/laptop is that should it get boring, I can play games, surf the net lol
     
  7. miket5au

    miket5au iPad Fan

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    At least copying someone else notes would be quicker if they typed them on their laptop :)
     
  8. wytey

    wytey iPad Junkie

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    you mean let them take the notes, and then copy the file afterwards? lol
     
  9. SweetPoison

    SweetPoison iPad Legend

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    Boy. This is an old thread.
     
  10. miket5au

    miket5au iPad Fan

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    You are right. Other forums I have posted on close threads after a small period of no activity so I never noticed how old it was.
     
  11. SingingSabre

    SingingSabre iPad Junkie

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    Necroposting...
     

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