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Is iPad right for me?


iPF Noob
Jun 3, 2010
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I am about to go back to college and I am trying to decide between the ipad and a laptop.

So I had a couple of questions for anyone nice enough to answer.

I have tried typing with the ipad and I love the keyboard, so between that for note taking and the battery life I am drawn to the ipad.

I've heard that there is an app that you can download that allows you to download any number of college text books onto the ipad for much cheaper than purchasing the print versions.

Is this true? If so what is the selection of books look like?

Also any opinions on the ipad over a laptop or visa versa for school related purposes?


Other than any literary works assigned for class, the textbook selection in electronic publishing is lacking and certainly not much cheaper than print versions.
I'm amazed at what I am able to do on the iPad and in terms of note taking, battery life and portability, while in class the iPad would work great. In terms of text books the issue will be whether they are available in a format you can use on the iPad. I'd do a bit of research on that with the college you are planning to attend. Find out where they get their textbooks from and what format they are in.

You don't say whether you would have access to a computer if you were to purchase the iPad. I think that is a big consideration. If you have a desktop or something to use back at home to write papers and things on, the iPad would be great for when you are mobile. If it was a choice of just an iPad with no access to a computer though, I would choose the laptop.

The drawback without having access to a full computer that I can think of is writing papers or complex spreadsheets or some other function that you need a full computer to complete. Taking computer science for example without access to a full computer would not be practical. Although it may be possible, I don't think it would be ideal drafting long or complex documents on the iPad. If you have access to a computer lab with desktops for that sort of thing though or a computer back at home the iPad for in class would work well.

You don't say what field you are going to be studying in and whether a notebook is a requirement or not. I would check with the college about this and see what they recommend. Is a power source for charging a laptop readily available in class is something else to find out.

I'm using my iPad solely when I am working remotely. I still use a computer some of the time when at home base. If you have access to a computer when you need one the iPad would be ideal for taking to class or the library or for completing stuff on the way to and from college. If you won't have access to a computer if you choose the iPad though, I would get the laptop.
Just my opinion but if you are looking for a new computing device that you intend to use at college, I wuld strongly recommend a laptop (Wintel/MAC...it doesn't matter).

Consider this...will you need to attach any devices to your device...a printer, scanner, thumb drive, security/application fob, something else entirely? If so, get a laptop.

Will you need any spread sheet/word processing applications? How about a graphics program? Yep...you should consider a laptop.

Also, remember that the storage capacity of the iPad max's out at 64GB...sounds like alot until you start having to store stuff on the unit. Much more storage available with a laptop.

My recommendation...think of the iPad as a device that nicely fills the Web browsing and running some Apps from the App Store. It doesn't yet replace the laptop completely.

If you go with the iPad, you might want to really consider purchasing one of the physical keyboards that are available for it. I know that I would not want to take notes on a virtual keyboard all the time.

Good luck and let us know what your decision is once you make it!
I love the iPad.... but if I were back in college (thank God I'm not) I would like to have both, but if only one.... get a laptop.... Easy to print from, MS Office....etc...etc.....
I'd say stick with a Macbook 13". The iPad is cool to have but it's limited resources will give you a hard time. You definitely need a scanner/printer. And you will definitely need a CD ROM.
Agreed.....a laptop will be a much better choice for college. Don't get me wrong....the iPad is awesome but for what you'll need in school the laptop is a much better option.

Unless....you can get both! :)
The iPad is a consumption devices (viewing websites, reading news, movies, music..). While it does have some apps like Pages/Numbers for creating things it really doesnt function well for that.

For college I would say you would be much better off with a MacBook.
The iPad is a fabulous addition to a base computer, either desktop or laptop. It is not a substitute for either.
I would have to agree that you would need another computer along with the iPad. That being said, I use my iPad daily taking notes in class, and i find it much easier to carry around campus than a laptop. If you have a desktop already, i would choose the iPad for your mobile usage.

I actually haven't checked out the college textbooks you mentioned, but I believe the selection will definitely grow over time. As of now, Ive been taking the strenuous task of scanning my textbooks, converting it into PDFs, and using Good Reader app. It's a bit ghetto haha, but if it saves me a couple hundred dollars, why not! Also, don't need to lug Around textbooks ;)

If you do decide on the iPad, some really good note taking apps are Penultimate, and Paperdesk for Ipad.

Good luck!
The current work-flow and expectation of those in higher education and the professional workforce will not accept the exclusive use of an iPad right now. Soon? Maybe. But as Jobs said at D8, people will be/are uneasy of thetransformation away from PCs and therefore will expect and require their existence in the near term. www.viddler.com/simple_on_site/30fe0cca

Having said that... if you can only get one, get the laptop.
The important question to ask is. Do you have antihero computer at home? Either desktop or laptop. If the answer is you alreAdy have one of this, get an iPad it is a great accessory for the classroom and you will find that soon more textbooks and what not will be in digital media. If the answer is no you don't hace a PC or laptop at home, get one otherwise the iPad is virtually useless.

Benefits for students I see. Note taking has made it to the 21st cent. You can record lectures and actually write or type notes at the same time within a couple diff apps. This is amazing for anyone who has a learning disability or is slow with audio processing. Also it's great for on the go work such as PDF editing or word processing, a lot of professors can email you handouts and you can add them as docs so you have paperless copies and don't need a billion extra papers with you. Amazon, barnes and nobble, and zinio all have numerous textbooks and from what iveheard a couple major text publishers are already starting to digitize their newer collections. Though prices may not be drastically cheaper the ease of transport will be huge. Several readers have highlighting, some have in margin writing, page marking ect for those that are mark readers.
I am about to go back to college and I am trying to decide between the ipad and a laptop.

I've heard that there is an app that you can download that allows you to download any number of college text books onto the ipad for much cheaper than purchasing the print versions.

Is this true? If so what is the selection of books look like?

Also any opinions on the ipad over a laptop or visa versa for school related purposes?

Well if you don't have a desktop/laptop to go into your room/apt I don't think the iPad would help you out as much as you would think.

I use it at work since I'm pretty adept with the keyboard and note app I'm using I take it to every meeting: I don't carry pens anymore (or notebooks for that matter). I would imagine it would be AWESOME to take to class, even more so after the OS update this fall.

There are pdf type apps out there that allow you to highlight, annotate, etc. so if I were a smart college or a green conscious college those thick photocopied readers (or study guides or whatever your school calls them) could just easily be a bunch of pdfs (and it would be easier on the eyes too). But that depends on your school.

Same goes for text books. I don't believe the market has materialized yet. If you're hedging for potential, maybe in 1 - 2 years it'll come. If it does I bet it'll be a boon to college students (and their backs!) :)

Having said that, I believe you need a laptop or desktop for the heavy lifting like term papers and the like, for printing and heavy typing/formatting.

So bottom line if it's a choice between laptop and iPad I agree with posters here I'd opt for the more flexible, if not necessarily classroom friendly, laptop. If you already have something and just want a very mobile and capable device to extend functionality into the classroom or outside your dorm/apt., then the iPad is great, even if textbooks are not out in the market en masse yet.
I completely agree with the other guys. I would highly recommend having a computer, either laptop or desktop in your room, and if you have that, the iPad will be a wonderful addition. But you will need a regular computer for sure, the iPad has it's limitations.

I realize that you will have access to the computers on campus in the computer labs, but I see having your own being mandatory because there are times when you will want to study in your pj's, or write a paper at night when the labs are closed, etc...

If it were me, Id spend a couple hundred bucks on a refurb desktop if you have a monitor or LCD display/television you could use. You could buy a used laptop, but you will find a lot more muscle in a desktop deal. I gave 240 bucks for a dual core intel pc running windows 7, 3 Gigs of ram, and a 500 gig hard drive that I bought for my mother from tiger. It was the complete system except a monitor. It was purchased as a refurb, but was brand new when it arrived, must have been a return.

If your budgets tight I'd get something like that first, and then get an iPad. As a student myself I'm thrilled with all the educational uses, but you will need a regular computer.

If I can answer any questions or help in any way, shoot me a private message and we'll talk.

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