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Old Dec 25, 2012, 05:56 PM   #1
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11" Macbook Air VS iPad


I was wondering whether you could help me with some little advice. I've got about 850 pounds to spend, which is basically the price of the 11" Macbook Air. I'm basically wondering whether I should go for it or whether I should buy myself an iPad and spend the rest of the money on something else.

Here is some background. I'm a student. I already have a 2010 21.5" iMac which I love (I also have an iPhone). While it's rather mobile, I found it quite difficult taking it with me on my breaks. I would much prefer also having something much smaller that can keep me company while I'm away. I will be mostly using it to browse on the internet and do other standard multimedia tasks, but I would probably also use it more occassianaly use it for typing (such is student life).

- Not great for typing but it is possible to use it that way with an external keyboard
- Can be limiting but of course the question is whether I will ever feel it. But it's good to think about the future
- Difficult to print with
+ more mobile than MBA because of a smaller size and weight so I would probably be more willing to take it with me even on day trips to entertain be on a train etc
+ Correct me if I'm wrong but it seems better for watching film etc. when traveling on a plane
+ 1/2 the price

Thank you!
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Old Dec 25, 2012, 07:21 PM   #2
Dominus Mortem
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It's just too hard to take notes or to write papers using an Ipad. There's no real word processor yet available for the Ipad either. I've seen a couple people trying to use Ipads in class for notes and what-have-you but most people are using small laptops of all varieties. I would recommend the 11" Air. I used it for a whole year and it worked very well for everything, except battery life. I just upgraded from a 11" Air for school work to a 13" rMBP. Ipad software isn't quite sophisticated enough yet to cover all the things you will need for school. The Ipad is not more mobile than a 11" Air. I'd say they are roughly equal in this regard.
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Old Dec 25, 2012, 09:21 PM   #3
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I think if you're going to be using it for note-taking or multimedia content creation then the 11" MBA with Mountain Lion OS would provide a better platform. I bought one in November for a trip to Southeast Asia. It essentially became my guidebook and travel agency as I was able to make arrangements online from the comfort of my hotel rooms. I'm not saying you can't do that with an iPad but whenever I had to compose a lengthy email or post-process some images, I knew I had made the right choice in the MBA with its full-sized keyboard.

Also, at my workplace, all managers in IT were issued iPads. Those who often take notes during meetings have also ordered sturdy aluminum covers with a built-in keyboard. That combo essentially mimics a laptop. I think they would've been better off with an 11" MBA as well.
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Old Dec 26, 2012, 03:37 AM   #4
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If you are going to do anything productive with your new device, you are going to need a keyboard.

If you have an ipad, you can get an external keyboard, but by the time you do that:
- you are carrying around two things,
- recharging two things (or buying batteries for your keyboard)

By this time you are carrying the same weight as an MBA.

Go for the 11" MBA.

iPads are fun. MBAs are far more productive.
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Old Dec 26, 2012, 06:08 AM   #5
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For your uses (browsing and multimedia mostly) i would get the ipad.

You can do light duty typing on it - but for the primary uses you describe it will be way better than an MBA.

You can use it without needing somewhere to sit with it on your lap, you can get integrated 3g on it which is great for mobile maps, and the battery life is at least double what you'll get on the MBA in real life.

Yes, an MBA would be better for "work" type stuff, but from the sounds of your first post, that will be a secondary use for the device.

For everything else while on the move, the iPad is just so much better (and we had both an MBA 11" and iPad in the household for some time). Mostly due to the battery life, instant-on, and ability to use it standing up.
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Old Dec 26, 2012, 10:51 AM   #6
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As it stands right now I would go with the Air. I'm doing some simple compiling of information using my iPad2 and what takes about 30 minutes has taken about 7-10 on my MBP because switching from one program to another is faster. Not to mention the copy and paste is much better for certain things on the MBP right now. Once MS or another company comes out with a "good" word processor then maybe the iPad, right now Pages doesn't cut it on the iPad nor does the working from one program to another.

I bought the iPad for travel, taking notes while shooting video but I have been regretting the purchase over the 11" MBA after a few weeks using the iPad. For me it just doesn't cut it. The only great thing for my iPad use is sitting down watching YouTube when traveling or having it setup next to my iMac at home to use as my email alert and track things on the net while I work on my iMac.

Everyone is different and I was really hoping the iPad would fill my needs but fell short so far.

Good luck and enjoy either
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Old Dec 26, 2012, 12:36 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Ridgewell View Post
I’m in that process right now and I think I’ll get the macbook air. I choosing the macbook air because although the ipad is cool it’s really just a novelty. You can’t do real work on it and the fact that the macbook has more power is the deciding factor. As money doesn’t seem like a factor then get the air.. It’s gotten nothing but good reviews. The macbook air is really cool. If u need portability then get the 11 inch, but if u can deal with an extra 0.5 pounds and the wider computer then get the 13 inch it has a GREAT screen.
I agree that the MBA is a great machine all around, especially for content production. I have had one for the past few years and have just upgraded to a MBP.

I also have had an ipad since the original came out. I disagree with the implication that it is a novelty and that you can't do "real work" with it.

In fact, one of the driving factors in me upgrading the the MBP and losing the portability of the MBA is because I CAN do so much with the iPad.

I have a Zagg Keyboard for the iPad and I take the combo with me everywhere. I do writing and word processing with Pages, spreadsheets with Numbers and use a ton of other apps. In fact, for a lot of what I do, the dedicated iOS apps are better than using safari on the MBA.

Weather Apps for example. It is much easier to get the information I need from a dedicated iOS weather app than to go digging around a website.

I know everybody has a different workflow, but about 80% of what I need to do can be done on the iPad.

I only bring this up because I see a lot of blanket statements that say the iPad is a toy or a novelty and one can't do real work on it. I just want the OP to hear a different opinion because this "novelty" that I am typing on right now has made me quite a bit of money over the past few years. Particularly using Square to swipe my clients' credit cards. Something I haven't figured out how to do on my MBA yet.

Anyway, my .02 - YMMV
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Old Dec 26, 2012, 03:06 PM   #8
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the ipad is obviously much cheaper, so maybe it depends on how much you want those other things...

how enamoured are you with apps? i have an iphone, but i know from my typical use of it (browsing, emailing, voice memos, garageband) that i wouldnt get all that much from an ipad that i dont already get on my phone. (thats not to say i dont want one!). Of course, once you have it you might think differently. The app ecosystem is pretty much half the reason to get one at all, i think.

in three years time the air will probably still hold half its new value. i doubt the ipad would. And look at iPad 1 now - it wont even take iOS6. I would guess this sort of thing matters to a lot of potential 2nd hand purchasers. Also, with regards to price. As a student you may get 15% off the air + free applecare. No such discount applies to iPads however.

Weightwise, yes its twice the weight of a retina iPad... but its still only just over a kilo. Thats practically nothing.
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Old Dec 26, 2012, 12:16 PM   #9
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Go iPad

I am in a similar situation and I have had all the devices you are asking about iPhone, iPad, Mac Book Air, and other Mac Books. Personally I think you need all of them! iPhone for really portable communications with friends and social. Then I often use my iPad for writing papers, taking notes, reading books/research papers, surfing the web, and multimedia. I often start my papers on my iPad in Pages then finish up on my Mac Book Pro. Lately I have been using my iPad more and more. The portability of an iPad can't be matched in terms of weight and battery life. So my recommendation would be the iPad with an external keyboard.
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Old Dec 26, 2012, 11:58 PM   #10
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Until you get very very accustomed to keyboarding with the iPad, you will get that kind of work done a lot easier and faster on a MBA. Even after you get used to it, you will probably still get keyboarding tasks done faster and easier on a MBA.

IMO, iPad is excellent for content consumption. It has far superior battery life and easier portability than the MBA. Without the need for typing, it is easy to choose the iPad.

Good luck with your decision!
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Old Dec 27, 2012, 05:22 AM   #11
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I just got my air a few weeks ago. My wife has a 2010 mbp and I have an older hp.
It kind of depends how big the school is that you go to. In lecture halls I had no issues with my 3" think hp but in smaller setting I wouldn't want any of the above.

Personally the air would be my pick. The iPad is nice for around the house browsing etc but for word processing reports, or making power points I much prefer the air. The keyboard is fantastic.

Also to note if you carry any books at all to class you will probably not notice the difference in iPad/ MBA weight. At least I don't.
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Old Dec 27, 2012, 06:28 AM   #12
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It's not an easy decision.

The ipad (or ipad mini) will be better for casual usage like watching videos, reviewing documents and surfing the net because of its form factor. In fact, it can be better for annotating on documents / pdfs via apps like goodreader.

The macbook air will be undeniably better for times when you need to do heavy-duty word processing, but would be more inconvenient to use for everything else. It is also more expensive.

Since you already have an imac at home, I think you might be better served with an ipad (or ipad mini). Just enjoy it, and resign yourself to the fact that you will unlikely do little more than basic word processing on it. Even then, it will likely involve point forms in an app like pages, evernote or notes, then retrieving the sync'ed version on your imac and reformatting it. Don't bother with a bluetooth keyboard either because it will just defeat the portability plus of the ipad.
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Old Dec 27, 2012, 09:29 AM   #13
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I got similar experience as other expressed here, I got my iPad and is working fine ( my wife love it ) but for me changing a word doc or change some numbers on an excel is a nightmare I think is best to have small MBA more productive for works that need keyboard and interaction, ipad for me works OK only with email .
Hope to have some spare money next year and get a MBA for me and leave the iPad at home ( with wife )

So go for the MBA best buy
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Old Dec 27, 2012, 06:11 PM   #14
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It's been a long, long time since I was in school but I think I would find the iPad limiting. I love mine but any significant typing on it is a pain. Fine for the occasional e-mail or posting to forums like this but not great for typing notes or papers.

Since I got my iPad I find I use my MBP less but it's still necessary for a lot of things I do. It's less portable now, left sitting on the desk while I use the iPad around the house. I only undock it when going out of town.
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Old Dec 27, 2012, 06:56 PM   #15
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Go for the Macbook Air. It has USB and of course can run desktop software like MS Office and even Windows if you needed it. That was one of the reasons why I went for it over the iPad. I played with my dad's iPad and found it limiting. The 11" Air is not that much bigger or heavier than the iPad so that's not an issue.
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Old Dec 27, 2012, 07:06 PM   #16
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I have an iPad3 and MBP and carry them both...eventually I will get an 11.6" MBA when the battery life increases to the current level of my 13" MBP (7+ hrs).

At that point my nVidia Whitebook will get gifted to a family member and the MBP will go to my wife and I'll be carrying the iPad3/MBA combo = win/win for everyone
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 12:55 PM   #17
Little E
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I've had a similar dilemma myself - went with an iPad based on already having a late 09 MB that is still working great for the 'heavy' lifting tasks not accomplished on the iPad. My decision was based on a friend's experience who solely used an iPad for a post-grad program - including 15000 word essays. One word - Goodreader.

He used a combination of Goodreader and Pages for content creation work. I'm going with Goodreader and Polaris Office myself. Having just recently finished a Masters degree before buying the iPad (it was a graduation gift to myself), I got to say -- wish I bought it earlier while in the throws of an intense student phase of my career.

Goodreader for managing documents, reading, highlighting, etc is awesome. It then allows you to summarize all your markups/highlights for ease of essay writing or review prior to a test. Something I used to do via copy/paste into word. Goodreader also will summarize all mark ups/notes that you can then email to yourself for work on a laptop/desk word processor as required.

As someone already mentioned - everyone's work flow is different - I'm still learning a new one with the iPad - but the portability and bridge between actual laptop/desktop and smart phone is perfect for my current needs. If I had bought an MBA I suspect I wouldn't ever touch the MB I already own...

You will love whatever choice you go with - my next laptop is definitely an Air when the MB finally kicks the bucket!
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Old Jan 2, 2013, 11:51 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Little E View Post
He used a combination of Goodreader and Pages for content creation work. I'm going with Goodreader and Polaris Office myself. Having just recently finished a Masters degree before buying the iPad (it was a graduation gift to myself), I got to say -- wish I bought it earlier while in the throws of an intense student phase of my career.
How well does Polaris Office work? I read about in last night in my January of Maclife and was thinking of downloading it so I could edit word and excel files from my iPad.
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Old Jan 5, 2013, 08:53 AM   #19
Little E
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Originally Posted by ethan86 View Post
How well does Polaris Office work? I read about in last night in my January of Maclife and was thinking of downloading it so I could edit word and excel files from my iPad.
Not bad -- I've only really used the word processing functions. Though I have noticed formatting errors (spacing, tabs, etc) on some stuff that I've sent from work to finish at home. But that can be standard for any office to apple conversion program anyway. I bought Polaris as it was 3 programs in 1 that also allows iPhone and iPad download for the same price. I have MS Office for Mac that I am very happy with on the MB. If/when they ever come out with Office for iOS I would definitely buy that.
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