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Can an iPad replace a basic computer? iPad air vs mini for movies?


iPF Noob
Jul 18, 2015
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(1) iPad alone or iPad + laptop?
so my daughter will be heading off to college, she has an older laptop now, and wants both a laptop and an iPad…
Really not sure what the purpose of an iPad is…it’s not an iPhone, it’s not an laptop.
She isn’t doing any hardcore computer programming or anything of that nature. Just basic web browsing (Facebook, Youtube, Google, Wikipedia, etc.). And word documentations (essays and what not)…I guess she can get a keyboard attachment for that.
Will an iPad fit her needs or will just an iPad become a burden?

(2) iPad mini vs. iPad air?
She prefers the iPad mini - it’s smaller and easier to carry and later on she’ll have patients information stored on it when visiting patients rooms, so the hospital prefers iPad minis. But, she plans on watching movies…with an iPad mini can she sit up on a bed with the iPad mini in her lap and watch a movie perfectly fine? Or is the screen too small to where she’d end up having to hold it up by her face during the whole movie?

Would appreciate any feedback, thanks!


iPad Fan
Jun 4, 2012
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St. Louis, USA
(1) The problem with relying on an iPad as one's sole computer is a matter of format compatibility. She would have to jump through flaming hoops to exchange documents with others, largely placing the burden on them to provide formats she could use in a place she could access. Unless her college is set up specifically for students with only iPads, the flexibility of a laptop would make her life considerably easier. If any coursework requires Adobe Flash, she would be out of luck with the iPad.

(2) Minis are fine for people with good eyes and small fingers, and their light weight is a real advantage. My wife loves hers, as it fits in a pocket in her purse. Some people watch movies on phones, after all.


iPad Fan
Jan 8, 2011
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Milton-Freewater, OR
@LannyC: Not as true as it used to be, with all three of the main MS Office apps available on the iPad, and only the most advance MS Office features missing. It does take a bit of digging to find every app needed, but then again there is some of that with any computer.

@jasonfodor: With a bluetooth keyboard there are not a whole lot of 'general, non-IT' college tasks that can't be done with an iPad. Though this will depend a lot on the college she is going to. See if they offer support for iPads and other mobile devices. A lot of online student information and course material may be laptop only in some colleges.

The iPad would not be a burden. There are a great many things it is well suited to in a college environment, and it integrates with a laptop (especially an Apple laptop) very well. Taking notes, and (depending on availability) carrying text book are primary examples. A full sized iPad is best for those (in my opinion).

Both a laptop and an iPad would be ideal. However, if it's one or the other, the safest bet is a laptop. It lacks the convenience of a light, always connected iPad (you were considering a cellular version, yes?); but there is no task that it can't do in a college environment. Like the iPad, it's a good idea to check with the college and see what operating system they recommend. Almost all are fine with an Apple computer, but a few might only support Windows.

That said, it's been a long time since I was in college. I'm just going on what I've read in various articles, and applying what I know about iPad and Apple devices.

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