All iPads iPad or MacBook for college majoring in physics

Discussion in 'iPad' started by Rseyde, Apr 17, 2013.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Apr 17, 2013
    I'm getting ready to move out to college. I plan on majoring In physics, in particular, theoretical physics. For this field of study, what would be better; an iPad or MacBook Pro/Air?
  2. macrumors member

    Jun 23, 2012
    All your going to need is a calculator and 54427 textbooks...

    But in all seriousness, get a MacBook Air/pro. The iPad is not a laptop substitute. iOS is too limiting to do everything. The MacBook Air is ideal for school in my opinion.
  3. macrumors regular


    Aug 2, 2011
    Wasilla, Alaska
    If this will be your only computer than definitely a MBA/MBP. I'm a computer system engineer major and have a MBA and an iPad 3.

    A laptop can do anything you need a tablet to do. But a tablet can't do everything a laptop can. You will hate yourself when you have to type a 5 page research paper on your iPad.

    There is no way I would get through school with only my iPad.
  4. macrumors G3

    Jul 4, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    Get both. If you can't affprd both new, buy them used.
  5. macrumors 6502a


    Mar 1, 2011
    Canada! \m/
    If you are majoring in science, you should DEFINITELY get an actual laptop. Macbook air or macbook pro. The ipad will not let you do the heavy duty work you'll need to do, i.e. write long research papers, do complex calculations in spreadsheets, etc.).

    Technically, you can do some of that on an ipad, but you're going to be doing a LOT of that type of work, so you will need a real laptop.

    That being said, like someone else mentioned, if you can afford to get both, the ipad would be a great supplement to a laptop (the ipad would be great for taking notes in class, and you can get some pretty handy science and physics based apps for it), but if you have to choose one over the other, hands down get the laptop.

  6. macrumors regular

    Mar 9, 2012
    MBA, I went with the MBP for college but if I could go back I would have chosen the MBA.
  7. macrumors 68000


    Nov 2, 2006
    And Yourself?
    Same here. I have a 2010 13" MBP and I've had it through my junior year of college. I really wish I would have got a MBA instead. Seeing as I'm a software engineering major I like to bring my laptop with me everywhere.
  8. macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
    Another vote here for the macbook air. More features than the iPad (which you will need), much more portable than the mac book pro.
  9. macrumors 65816

    Jan 29, 2010
    in an either or choice--laptop is the easy decision. Used ipad2 would make a very usable and cheap textbook reader. Think about a wacom tablet as a periperal. I did a lot of drawing when studying physics and its great once you get the hang of it Also--get mathType--indespensible for creating formula sheets, working complicated problems, etc.
  10. macrumors member


    Feb 28, 2010
    Providence, RI
    A Retina MBP would be another choice. It costs a bit more, but can do more too. It all depends what you're going to be running on the machine. If you plan on using Mathematica or doing simulations, I'd go with the MBP, or rMBP. Otherwise the Air should be fine (I'd recommend the 13 inch. The 11 inch is too small for most things IMO, an the keyboard is a bit funny shape-wise.
  11. macrumors 6502a


    Jan 10, 2012
    /home @
    Laptop. Such as a MacBook Pro/Air.
  12. macrumors 6502a


    Dec 1, 2007
    Pen and paper for notes. You will appreciate the biggest screen you can get for research and report writing so MBP or iMac.
  13. macrumors 6502


    Mar 10, 2013
    laptop and stop. iPad doesn't give you the freedom that a laptop can.
    MBA 13 or rMBP are my suggestions
  14. dukebound85, Apr 20, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2013

    macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    What can a retina mbp do more than a cmbp?

    OP, for what it is worth, I have used my 13" cmbp throughout grad school and had a regular emac and first gen macbook when I was doing my undergrad in mech engineering. All had been more than ample.

    Point is not an intensive use for a computer and any offering will be more than fine. For any intense work, you will have lab access, not to mention the labs will have the licenses for any software you wish to run, unlike your personal computer most likely.

    I would get the air or the cmpb and forgo the ipad right now personally. I would rather get a cmbp/mba + ipad than a rmbp at any rate
  15. macrumors 603


    Jun 12, 2006
    Are there physics and/or math related programs that will only run natively on Windows with a PC? At one time certain fields required a PC because Macs couldn't run the software, but since Intel based Macs, I would think that a PC only program should be OK with parallels or boot camp with your Macbook Pro or Macbook Air with no let down in compatibility or speed. Somebody here should know the answer.

    Congrats on your endeavors to be the next "Sheldon Cooper". ;)
  16. macrumors 6502a

    Feb 25, 2011
    Freshman year: Macbook Air (used or refurbished)
    Sophomore year: iPad Mini (used or refurbished) - only if you worked the previous summer and saved money for it.

    As a college student there is no reason for you to buy new, especially Apple products. Generally they hold up very well. Another unrelated piece of advice - Never buy a car new. I wish somebody had told me this when I was in college. Life teaches you a lot of lessons as you get older. Sometimes you will look back and just shake your head at some of the decisions you make when you were younger and not as mature.

  17. buysp, Apr 21, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2013

    macrumors 6502

    Feb 12, 2013
    Sydney, Australia
    No brainer!

    MacBook Air/Pro. I cannot believe that you would even consider the iPad.
    In my home the iPad is relegated to content consumption only!
  18. macrumors 6502a


    Jan 10, 2012
    /home @
    Some people are actually able to use their iPad as their sole device for content production as well. But AFAIK, none of them are physicists.
  19. Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I would think you need to find out what your school expects first. Why buy an iPad as your sole device when they expect you to have a laptop for your classes. Some collages go so far and tell you that you need to get a certain type of laptop, i.e., windows.
  20. macrumors newbie

    Apr 21, 2013
    Going through college you will need a computer. Therefore a Mac, a laptop.

    iOS is limiting. You cannot do everything you can do on a mac on an iPad, but you can do everything on an iPad that you can do on a Mac. In school, the iPad will not allow you to do everything you will need to do. When you type stuff you won't have fun with it if you do it on an iPad.

    But still, if you can try to get both. iPads are also better than Macs but Macs are better than iPads if you know what I mean
  21. macrumors 6502


    Apr 13, 2013
    It's already been said before, but I'll chip in and say go for the laptop option. Don't even consider an iPad. I did physics and you'll only kick yourself if you get that. The question should be do you get the MBP or the MBA? Don't go with the retina version, it's too expensive for college. My advice is look at what programs will be used like mathematica or maple or anything like that. My computer at the time (a PC, groan) just about managed to run these, but I'm unsure if the MBA can, so check out the specs and requirements. If you can get these programs as apps on your mac then it will be a great help, especially in something like theoretical physics and definitely when it comes to your thesis. Saying that, the MBA is super portable and would be great for lectures (nothing beats pen and paper though!).

    Best of luck in your studies! It's a fantastic, amazing and hugely interesting subject. Hit me up when you discover the next flavour of the Higgs and re-write that pesky quantum stuff :)

    PS can only choose 2 out of 3: sleep, grades or parties. Enjoy!
  22. macrumors 65816

    Mar 27, 2009
    Well, the iPad is cheaper. You can always buy a stylus and a case that comes with a Bluetooth keyboard. I have an idea. Before class starts, buy an iPad and a MacBook, if you can afford to do so. You can always return both products up to 30 days after you received them and get a full refund. Then, after using both for a few days, you can decide which product to keep.
  23. macrumors regular

    Dec 26, 2012
    I'm many years removed from college, but if this were my choice I'd choose the full computer. I love my iPad 4 but it's just not a good device for getting work done on it.
  24. macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2012
    My vote is for the iPad. IMO, a laptop isn't something I'd want for college. I can do everything I'd want to do on a laptop on my iPad with much less fumbling around and resistance. Plus the iPad is simply more portable, especially if you buy the cellular version. Having everything I need with me at all times is incredible. The versatility and thousands of apps makes the iPad more than worth it, again, IMO.
  25. macrumors 6502a


    Dec 1, 2007
    I'm not sure if you're being sarcastic...

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