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Old Oct 9, 2010, 03:14 PM   #1
ejlorge
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Post Is Writing a Thesis on an iPad Do-able?

Hello all, I have been writing my thesis on an Macbook Air which got dropped and is too expensive to fix. So I am debating between getting a regular MacBook and an iPad as a replacement.

The problem of course isn't the iPad's memory, but the typing function. My question is: How difficult is it to type for one or two hours at a time on the iPad? Is the screen to small for text docs?

Also, I read somewhere that typing on the same plane as the screen feels unnatural. Do you find this to be the case?

Thanks for your advice.
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 03:22 PM   #2
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Typing on the iPad for something as long as a thesis would probably be a suboptiomal experience. But you can always get the keyboard dock or a bluetooth keyboard. But then again, if you need footnotes and/or endnotes, or other fancy formatting options, I don't think the word processing apps for the iPad are quite there yet.
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 03:22 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ejlorge View Post
Hello all, I have been writing my thesis on an Macbook Air which got dropped and is too expensive to fix. So I am debating between getting a regular MacBook and an iPad as a replacement.

The problem of course isn't the iPad's memory, but the typing function. My question is: How difficult is it to type for one or two hours at a time on the iPad? Is the screen to small for text docs?

Also, I read somewhere that typing on the same plane as the screen feels unnatural. Do you find this to be the case?

Thanks for your advice.
depending on what kind of formatting options you need i can't see why not, it'd probably be easier if you got a bluetooth keyboard for it as well but you're still gonna need some form of computer for updates and syncing. you also need to think about if you've got any other reasons for an ipad, they're a great device if you can find a niche in your life that it can fill but i wouldn't want to be forced to used an iPad everyday it's much nicer as an option.
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 03:24 PM   #4
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Why would one want to do this?

Yes, I understand their are some reasons, but still...
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 03:27 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ejlorge View Post
Hello all, I have been writing my thesis on an Macbook Air which got dropped and is too expensive to fix. So I am debating between getting a regular MacBook and an iPad as a replacement.

The problem of course isn't the iPad's memory, but the typing function. My question is: How difficult is it to type for one or two hours at a time on the iPad? Is the screen to small for text docs?

Also, I read somewhere that typing on the same plane as the screen feels unnatural. Do you find this to be the case?

Thanks for your advice.
A real thesis, with footnotes and everything? Then you probably want a real word processor. Sorry, but Pages for the iPad doesn't make the cut.Not yet, at least.

As to the longterm usage of the onscreen keyboard: I wouldn't recommend it. You really do want some sort of physical feedback, and most importantly a "give" of some kind. Slamming your fingertips against a hard, smooth surface, several thousand times a day, isn't going to make your hands feel wonderful.
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 03:29 PM   #6
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I've done university assignments on mine, I'm working on one now in keynote...

Just remember not to tap too hard or you'll get sore fingers and prop the iPad up a little.

Also a Bluetooth keyboard probably isn't a bad idea


Edit: I add footnotes just by dropping the font size.
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 03:30 PM   #7
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I'm writing three dissertations this year (30,000 word count total). Subsequently ebayed my iPad and keyboard dock and bought myself an Alienware m15x. The iPad's word processing capabilities are great for typing up the odd thing, but if you're doing serious work it's a joke.

The iPad's a great toy and whatnot, but frankly speaking I struggled to type up lecture notes on it, attempting to do a serious piece of academic research on it would drive me up the wall.

EDIT: Bye bye!
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 03:30 PM   #8
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While I'm sure that it is technically possible, I certainly wouldn't attempt to do it.
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 03:32 PM   #9
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An ordinary paper or essay? Sure.

A thesis or dissertation? I wouldn't.
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 03:56 PM   #10
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I don't see why not, I'm using my iPad to write a book, at 1-3 chapters per file (mostly for organization), but I'm also using my iMac bluetooth keyboard which I'm used to typing on. The iPad keyboard is nice to type on, but thumbing a book in isn't "ideal" for me.

The iPad has made it possible for me to get in about 5 pages each night while in bed before going to sleep, an otherwise project that I would have never finished if not for the existence of the iPad. Thanks a ton Apple!
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 03:56 PM   #11
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Thanks to everyone for some very good points.

I should have mentioned that I have a new-ish iMac as my regular desktop. The prob is my wife works from it too so I need a second independent device to keep the peace.

Someone asked, Why? Its a good question. I guess because if an iPad would be even more versatile (i.e. portable) than a Macbook, then I might be more prone to taking more places with me. Plus, of course the fact that it is about half the price as a Macbook. Finally, I don't really need all those extra apps and power for writing a text doc.

And yes, an external keyboard would definitely be needed—(which might negate the portability point).

Quote:
Originally Posted by tkingart View Post
The iPad has made it possible for me to get in about 5 pages each night while in bed before going to sleep, an otherwise project that I would have never finished if not for the existence of the iPad. Thanks a ton Apple!
Exactly what I was thinking.

Last edited by Mitthrawnuruodo; Oct 11, 2010 at 02:37 PM. Reason: Merging, please use MULTIQUOTE and/or EDIT...
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 04:08 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tkingart View Post
I don't see why not, I'm using my iPad to write a book, at 1-3 chapters per file (mostly for organization), but I'm also using my iMac bluetooth keyboard which I'm used to typing on. The iPad keyboard is nice to type on, but thumbing a book in isn't "ideal" for me.

The iPad has made it possible for me to get in about 5 pages each night while in bed before going to sleep, an otherwise project that I would have never finished if not for the existence of the iPad. Thanks a ton Apple!

Even 20 years ago, you could have already bought a notebook computer for that purpose which would have provided more comfort for writing. Really, the iPad probably is the worst typing device to use in bed.
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 04:17 PM   #13
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Basic writing would be acceptable but editing is a nightmare. A hackintosh netbook would be superior and portable.
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 04:24 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Winni View Post
Even 20 years ago, you could have already bought a notebook computer for that purpose which would have provided more comfort for writing. Really, the iPad probably is the worst typing device to use in bed.
I have tried using a MacBook, MacBook Pro, even a NetBook, but all felt "bulky" and would get really warm, not the iPad. The iPad stays cool, it's a LOT lighter so you barely notice the weight, because of these things you are unaware of the iPad as you are typing in (I use Pages), not to mention the iPad just feels "natural" to use, I admit that iOS 4.2 would make things much better with multitasking, and I'm fine with that since it's coming out in November. Honestly, the iPad is very portable, I take it everywhere with me
(TIP: get a carry case with a strap, over your shoulder on your back like a mini backpack.)

The iPad feels like a digital book, it's both a pleasure to read books/magazines on, as it is to write documentation. The iPad specific apps out now for such things- are amazing! (check out iMockups and ArtStudio.)

Btw, I spent a lot of money on cases until I found a philips case for $10 at Walmart with a strap on it (not a place I normally go), but it's funny that it's been the best case thus far. (TIP: Don't get expensive looking cases, they draw attention to the fact you're carrying around a just-sub 1k device with a high resale value around.) The ideal case is one that is comfortable, and looks like your carrying around your 1980 cassette tapes collection with you.
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 04:25 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Winni View Post
Even 20 years ago, you could have already bought a notebook computer for that purpose which would have provided more comfort for writing. Really, the iPad probably is the worst typing device to use in bed.
That's an opinion, not a fact. I do most of my writing on an iPad nowadays.
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 04:53 PM   #16
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I would advise against using an iPad for thesis writing for many reasons others have mentioned (the need for tactile feedback after you've typed 30,000 words, footnoting, etc), and another huge reason I haven't seen mentioned here yet: posture.

It's fine to sit in bed for 5 minutes before dozing off to use the iPad, but you don't want to write 150 pages that way. It will eventually cause back, neck, and/or wrist pain. I'm not even sure if the iPad combined with a docking keyboard would do the trick because adjusting height would be difficult unless you had a proper desk chair to use. If you did have such a desk chair, wouldn't the functional advantages of the iPad be moot?

I was glad to have a chair with appropriate height and a full keyboard when I typed my thesis (undergrad, 11,000+ words) because it probably saved me a lot of aches and pains.
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 06:28 PM   #17
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If you go into the settings and turn off notifications for a few hours, the iPad becomes the best distraction-free writing experience money can buy, next to a typewriter, of course.

So long as you're using a real keyboard with the iPad for most of the writing, and only using the screen keyboard for bed-writing and casual notes, it's a great option.
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 06:34 PM   #18
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If you want something solely for typing on, with long battery life and a useable keyboard, why not get a netbook?

Less than half the price, batteries that last 2 days, a proper keyboard, smaller than a laptop, lighter than a laptop, can take it out in bed, on the tube, on the bus, light enough to carry everywhere.
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 06:44 PM   #19
Don Kosak
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I know at least one other person doing their Thesis on an iPad.

Typing on the glass is probably healthier for you than the way most folks type on a regular keyboard. The iPad forces you to keep your wrists off the table.

Store your work in the cloud (iWork.com, or MobileMe, or Dropbox) just in case your iPad gets broken, stolen, or lost.

If you find you need arrow keys, etc, then you might try the Apple Bluetooth keyboard. It works really nicely with most editing programs.

Let us know how it goes!
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 06:48 PM   #20
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Typing a thesis on an iPad would be a nightmare IMO.

I am too accustomed to the features and comfort of typing on a 'normal' computer.
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 06:53 PM   #21
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I type 2500 word papers all the time on my iPad, but I alternate between it and my iMac. I use the Apple Bluetooth keyboard for both.

I type on the iPad alone mostly, but the keyboard gives a nice break and I'll admit I can go faster on it, but carrying it around adds to the load.
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 07:00 PM   #22
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You can have the best "writing" software in the world for $9.99 on your iPad. TeX-Touch

Just install dropbox and MacTeX (and follow these instructions) and you are on your way. I wouldn't be afraid to do this at all... You can write when not connected but obviously need a connection to typeset your stuff. Good luck, IM if you have any questions.
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 07:06 PM   #23
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Wow! Do those keyboards exist only in the TeX-Touch app? They are an awesome sight. Not something I need but definitely something to behold.

Give you an idea of what the iPad can do if given the proper App.
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 07:47 PM   #24
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I've typed nasty long humanities papers on mine (with the screen, not the dock or keyboard) but for a thesis I would suggest an actual computer. You may need to do a bunch of different formatting for something and need the power of a full blown word processor.

My word processing needs are basic so I never need anything more then the ipad when typing papers but others may.
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 08:18 PM   #25
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Depends on how many windows or applications you need to have open while writing it, like if you're quoting or doing some online journal research while writing it. I had 14 windows open last week doing a relatively simple assignment, but maybe that's just me. Expose really comes in handy in this case.
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