iPad Pro A college student's review of the iPad Pro.

Discussion in 'iPad' started by JawneeWin, Mar 2, 2016.

  1. JawneeWin macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2013
    The first time I decided to attempt to go fully digital for school was back in high school when I grew tired of talking to class with a backpack as heavy as... you've guessed it - a pile of textbooks! My plan was to use my Macbook for class. Everything worked perfectly fine throughout high school but I actually still had to bring paper with me due to the possibility of having to draw diagrams & charts during lectures. I tried to fix that problem by purchasing an iPad. It worked out pretty good. However, I never had the intention to actually write on the iPad, just use it for drawing exclusively.

    Skip a few years forward and here I am...

    when the iPad Pro was first announced, I just thought what many others thought - "It's just a giant iPad!" This is true in so many ways. I laughed even harder when Apple announced the Apple Pencil. I almost thought it was a joke for a minute. It wasn't until I decided to visit the Apple Store and try out the Apple Pencil. I realized that the iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil had huge potential for students. The pencil worked perfectly. I purchased the iPad Pro along with the Apple Pencil a week later.

    I've used the iPad Pro for my college lectures for about a month now. I can happily say that I went completely digital for college. The iPad does seem pretty big at first, but you'll get used to it and realize that the size of the iPad has a huge advantage in the classroom. It's about the same width as a piece of paper, and about an inch longer than a piece of paper. Aside from that, it really is just a bigger iPad aside from the nice four speakers on it which makes it perfect for another purpose I will mention soon.

    Where the iPad Pro shines is when you combine the Apple Pencil with it. It writes very accurately and the feel and weight of the Apple Pencil is very natural. The only complaint I have with the Apple Pencil is that I tend to write harder and put a lot of strain on my fingers. However, putting on a grip from another pen onto the Apple Pencil made a world of a difference. The app I use for taking lectures in class in Notability. Not only is it suggested by many people, I happened to have the app for free when it was app of the week way back in the stone ages. The first few days definitely felt weird when writing with the Apple Pencil. It was mostly because I was writing on glass, and not actual paper. For those struggling with this, I suggest you stick with it because it will get better as you get used to it.

    Notability has the ability to record while you take your notes. What's even better is being able to tap on your notes and listen to the recording during the same time that you wrote that note! It's now possible to take shorter notes and still be able to refer to it if you have trouble understanding it! It has dropbox functionality, which is pretty neat. You can export your notes and recording and do whatever your heart desires with them. The four speakers on the iPad is a pretty huge advantage if you sit in a larger classroom or not close to the professor. With the speakers on max volume, I was able to listen to the recording and understand everything my professor said clearly.

    People asked me why I ditched my MacBook and iPad Air & settled with the iPad Pro when the MacBook has so much more functionality (running full desktop apps & programs, etc.) There are three main reasons why. The first reason is that I actually never really use my MacBook to its full potential. By the time I'm home, I'm on a desktop instead. My second reason why I switched was because it was a MacBook. With the clamshell design of a laptop, the screen facing upwards created a "shield" between me and my professor. The last and third reason why is the desk size. This seems a little overboard but the size of the desk makes a world of a difference. A lot of lecture rooms tend to have individual desks with a desk size that will probably fit either only a MacBook or an iPad.


    You all know what I mean.
    Because of this, using an iPad with a MacBook was pretty much a hassle.

    By using an iPad Pro, I was able to view documents/textbooks & write my lecture notes all on the same place. It has saved me a lot of trouble and money! The price of the iPad Pro 128 gb cellular with an Apple Pencil costs over $1,000 but it pays for itself in so many ways. The average cost of textbooks and materials exceed well over $1,000 within a year. You also get to save the environment by decreasing or eliminating the use of paper (Save the trees! ) In addition to using the iPad, I suggest getting a glass screen protector. It will protect your iPad from the possibility of scratches due to dirt getting in between your Apple Pencil and the screen. I also suggest the 128 gb and cellular. We've all had that time when we forgot something important at home. With dropbox, you're able to access everything you have and you can also download whatever you need online. The larger storage options means that you don't have to worry about storage space, but I also found that dropbox solves this problem as well.

    I'm writing this review because I know that many students are always looking for ways to make their hectic college life more bearable. If you're looking for a way to go digital, this is definitely a good way to do it. The only thing I bring to class now is my iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. There are no more notebooks, pens, pencils, highlighters, etc. Making flashcards online and studying through your phone/iPad, taking notes, and watching Netflix (because every student needs a break sometimes) are all enjoyable. I highly recommend this to every college student out there. It has made lectures so much more enjoyable by removing the unorganized mess I was dealing with before.

    If I didn't cover anything you want to know, feel free to ask! :)
  2. yaxomoxay macrumors 68030


    Mar 3, 2010
    great review!

    This begs the question: what is the "biggest" problem you had with the iPP ?
  3. family_guy macrumors newbie

    Feb 26, 2016
    For note taking, I'd just get the upcoming Air 3/Pro assuming it has the pencil support because that's about $300-500 less. For everything else I'd still use a Macbook Air. Although a Surface Pro seems like a good blend even though the battery life isn't as good.
  4. upritbass macrumors member

    Jun 2, 2015
    So you believe that the 128Gb Air 3 will be $450??? Did you bother looking at the Apple Store? The difference in list price between the 128Gb models is only $250.
  5. family_guy macrumors newbie

    Feb 26, 2016
    Sorry. I was comparing the lowest cost model as a starting point. In any case if note taking is my primary purpose, there's no way I'm paying $1000+ when a 16 gig model would be sufficient. I'd take the savings and invest it in a good notebook.
  6. Noble Actual macrumors 6502a

    Sep 10, 2014
    It sounds like you found the iPP useful but I honestly do not think its what college students should buy.

    1. It costs a ton for a device that does not have the capacity to do some serious tasks that you may need (photoshop, software development, etc.) I'm majoring in CS and if I came to class with an iPP, I would probably feel really stupid and unproductive. But maybe if digital media arts majors were given iPads to use and I wanted my own/better one, I could see the iPP being useful.

    2. From what I got, it seems like you commute which is a luxury for students (no rent and requirement to buy food plan). I can't see the iPP being a solid investment for the vast majority that stay in dorms/near school. You really don't want to buy a desktop PC and then use an iPad for class. Laptops are really cheap, really powerful, and most important super reliable nowadays (both OS X and W10). The portability of the iPP might make a lot of sense if you have the flexibility to go from home to school.

    3. A big problem with larger tablets is desk space. Unless you're taking classes in science (bio, chem, geo, etc.) where they use mostly lab tables, almost all seminar desks are wobbly and small as well. The lecture ones are even more scary because they are foldable and some of the hinges that lock them are broken. It just feels unsafe like the iPP Pro is 2 legged and a laptop is like 4 legged.

    4. Also I find that online only textbooks are actually quite expensive since you can't buy used. Also they tend to have variations between the physical copy that the teacher uses. Another issue is professor's not allowing electronics. Might seem dumb but honestly every class where they say its ok, I just see students looking at Facebook. There's also a problem where you can use written notes on quizzes but they don't let their students use phones or tablets or laptops.

    Basically, I want to live in a world where the iPP fits perfectly into life and school but I really don't see it happening with compromises. Some teachers allow use of electronics, some don't. Some books are not available online, some are. Some of them are different versions. If I ever switch majors (I'm not) or take a class that requires something, I want to know that my device can do it all.
  7. JawneeWin thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2013
    I'd say my "biggest" problem with the iPad Pro is the charging time of it. I have to make sure it's charging overnight and ready to go for the next day :)

    1. You're right, I don't think it's perfect for all college students, but it's definitely useful for other majors out there.

    2. This is true. Buying a desktop while dorming is inconvenient. But a lot of students actually commute due to the high costs of dorming.

    3. The iPad Pro is about the size of a piece of paper, and the weight of it is pretty evenly distributed. If anything, I think a laptop would cause more problems since the screen section would make it heavier on one end. You could also always lean the iPad Pro to youself while writing, which is a hassle with a laptop - or not practical.

    4. There are some textbooks that are not available on eBooks. However, I'm finding that a lot of science majors specifically have eBook versions available. (I'm a nursing student) An updated edition of an eBook vs. an updated edition that is used is usually the same. Even if the physical textbook is cheaper in price, I wouldn't mind paying a little more to save space/weight and be more portable. It's also useful because you could essentially screenshot diagrams/images and annotate on them. The issue with students going on Facebook while in lecture is due to lack of self-control, so it can't be completely blamed on the iPad. The same could be done on a laptop.

    It might not work out for you, but I'm sure that it would work out for many students out there who are looking for a way to be portable. At the end of the day, it all depends on what a student requires. I see a lot of students with handwritten notes, and I think an iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil could be a good alternative for those wanting to be more portable. This is what works for ME, and I just wrote my review to suggest it to other students based on my experiences. Before purchasing my iPad, I couldn't really find much information about the use of it in lectures, so I thought it would be helpful to post a review :)
  8. stevemiller macrumors 68000

    Oct 27, 2008
    great review, thanks for sharing!

    certainly some of the price can be offset by textbook savings (which were a hefty cost, at least they were a decade ago when i was in school!). probably as a student i'd lean towards a 9.7" variant, but given the pro is the only pencil enabled model right now, you don't really have much choice.

    i think overall its a great example of varying use cases. while i know i need a mobile workhorse like a macbook pro for much of what i do, this really highlights how another persons needs are way better fulfilled by a tablet! i know i'm strongly considering an upgraded 9.7" iPad as an auxiliary tool if it gains pencil support, because gaining a drawing/writing implement also captures what i really want from a tablet device!

  9. TRDmanAE86 macrumors 6502


    Jan 27, 2015
    New England
    Thanks for this thread! I'm trying to figure out if it is more practical to carry around my Alienware, a iPad or both.

    I'm going to be in the same boat as you next year and, need to decide what gagets to bring to ensure I stay on topic and, be the most productive. As of right now, I mainly use a computer and a iPad for class.

    However, since both my iPad and Alienware contain both schoolwork and other things that distract me massively. (Social Gmail, Forums, Photoshop etc). I'm probally going to buy a cheaper Laptop and, a new iPad (probally the Pro) to only be used for productivity

    I have one question though. Do you find the iPad Pro easier to type papers on compared to your iPad Air and, MacBook Pro?
  10. AppleFan360, Mar 4, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2016

    AppleFan360 macrumors 68020

    Jan 26, 2008
    Really great review. In my case, I'm using the IPP and Pencil for work. I also use Notability and take notes in meetings. Sometimes I will need to take a picture of a Power Point slide or drawing and insert the pic into my notes. People think it's really cool and start asking about my IPP. It really is wonderful going completely paperless.

    I'm using iCloud to store my notes and notice that it saves on the fly. I was a bit concerned at first that I would lose all my notes if the IPP crashed during a meeting but is saves everything to iCloud immediately which is really cool. Does dropbox work that way?
  11. kevroc macrumors 6502

    Oct 15, 2011
    Yes, with Dropbox you can also have it save as PDF. So, when I makes notes on the iPad, I see them drop into my computer as PDF's via dropbox syncing on my PC, makes it really convenient.
  12. JawneeWin thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2013
    I haven't really typed on the iPad Pro. I would assume the larger screen would make it better. I prefer to type papers on my iMac at home with a mechanical keyboard. I use pages and make my notes very condensed and as visual as I can so I can basically imagine my notes in my head during exams. If you have a desktop at home, or a laptop, I would say an iPad Pro should be fine for lectures (if you're actually in the same "boat" as me haha). The iPad Pro is almost the same size as a 13'' MacBook Air so it should feel the same (I'm not sure about lap typing, or whether the keys of the apple smart keyboard make for a different experience). For typing, I would personally rank it from: Desktop > Macbook > iPad.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 4, 2016 ---
    I personally love the large size of the iPad Pro. The extra screen space allows me to reference to other apps/textbooks with notability opened when taking notes. Also, textbooks are still expensive. Tired of being robbed every semester haha.
  13. Badrottie Suspended


    May 8, 2011
    Los Angeles
    Nice review...I would like to hear more reviews from artist and photographer.
  14. tsang2320, Mar 5, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2016

    tsang2320 macrumors regular

    Jan 13, 2014

    IPP brings a lot to the table but completely replacing textbooks and stationary is not one of them to me. The iOS leaves a lot to be desired. Here are 3 common situations every student should have faced.

    Refer to the lecture reading while writing notes in class.

    Read your notes and write something, be it reports or essays in meeting or between classes.

    Have more than one pdf/doc/spreadsheet open for some tasks. Switch between them.

    IPP and iOS can usually handle ONE task well. Play a game. Read a webpage. Anything involving more than one app or one document causes unnecessary switching. iOS 9 cannot convince me that it has solved the issue.

    OP mentioned he can view textbooks, documents while writing lecture notes. iOS 9 multitasking at most handles two apps. And then the size for both apps shrinks to half the screen estate. If suddenly some theories pop up in mind, no more textbooks as Safari is open.

    Online textbook and academic paper costs the same, or a good portion of the printed version.

    One more point. Using IPP in OP's way means holding it for all other tasks. If OP uses the apple Smart Cover or the expensive keyboard, then the angle is non-adjustable and awkward in many lecture halls, before discussing the additional cost.

    Edit: The thing comes down to the number of 'screen'. Before IPP, one textbook (two faces at one time), one pdf and one notebook (two faces at one time) means 5 A4 size surfaces. While it means putting your textbook over your notebook or on your lap sometimes, it works better than doing everything on an A4 size IPP, which handles two apps at once.
  15. harriska2 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 16, 2011
    I use the iPad pro with multiple textbooks, power points, and note taking at the same time. In landscape, on one side I have PDF expert with tabs of the textbooks and PDFs/powerpoints files. On the other side in split screen I use Goodnotes which allows handwriting, highlighting, lasso for copy/move, and works with the apple pencil. I can only look at one book at a time but the tabs make switching very fast.
  16. friedmud macrumors 65816

    Jul 11, 2008
    Just piling on here... currently doing my PhD and my iPad Pro and Pencil are already invaluable. Taking notes (class, meetings, research notes) and reading/marking up research papers are absolutely perfect on it. I even do all of my written homework on it.

    After the word gets out you're going to see an absolute ton of college students using this device.

    For me, it doesn't replace my laptop (I'm studying Computational Nuclear Engineering and I still need to do real programming) but it more than earns its spot in my bag.
  17. TRDmanAE86 macrumors 6502


    Jan 27, 2015
    New England
    That's how I feel about comparing a iPad Pro to a laptop; Personally, both are indispensable!

    Currently, every device has it's limitations. Nothing (not even a top of the line CPU) can do every single task flawlessly. That's why I have and utilize both my touchscreen Alienware 13 laptop and a iPad Air for my studies (and my other hobbies).

    Both the iPad and the Alienware can multitask, browse the internet and, type. However, that's where the comparison pretty much stops. I use the iPad for quick notes, drawings, basic sketches, reading textbooks and marking up papers. The Alienware laptop is used for Photoshop renderings, typing papers with a more complex format, 3D sculpting, and running other resource and/or graphics intensive programs. Both unite and share their information in various cloud platforms.

    Overall, that's why I plan to get both a reasonably priced "professional" laptop and a iPad Pro for College; they'll both fit in my bag and complement each other for the best productivity and efficiency!
  18. friedmud macrumors 65816

    Jul 11, 2008
    Yep. Here is my breakdown:
    • iPad Pro: Notes, reading/marking up research papers (playing games :)
    • Macbook Pro: Programming, paper writing, presentations
    • Cylinder Mac Pro: Large computational runs that can't be done on my laptop
    • Supercomputer: Huge computations that can barely be done on any computer in the world ;-)
    There is a correct tool for each job... use it!
  19. off_piste macrumors 6502a

    Oct 25, 2015
    Wow, I did not know this feature existed (I know it's not iPP specific). This alone would make it worthwhile for me in my law practice. Sometimes it's more important to understand an answer in interviews or dialogue in a meeting than taking perfect notes. I wouldn't have to choose with this.
  20. mrklaw macrumors 68020

    Jan 29, 2008
    One note also lets you do this on Windows. It's good to hear that notability supports that feature as it sounds very useful
  21. KUKitch macrumors 6502


    Jan 10, 2008
    I just felt like responding to this with some thoughts,

    1. I would think that a majority of majors still revolve around lectures and note-taking and the like, and I'm not sure how many require photoshop or software development, short of your own as far as the dev work goes... which makes sense where the iPP may not be the right fit. In my opinion, for whatever little that's really worth, I'd think it's a fantastic alternative in many instances to having a full computer. Having one device w/your books on it and notes and so on that's easily portable would've been great for me when I was in school as an accounting/finance major.

    2. I don't think I totally understand this point. I would think the portability makes sense no matter where you are (see first point and the convergence of books and notes into one place). I'd expect that desktops are a dying breed on campuses everywhere as well - are you just talking about that combo not making sense vs. a laptop? As for laptops being cheap, the saying goes, you get what you pay for - and I've always found that to be true with computers. The OS may be good, but crappy hardware is crappy hardware - I'd rather have an iPad than a $500 laptop in a lot of instances personally (but that's just me). Short of a Chromebook, I think it's worth getting a good system that may cost more.

    3. This problem would be just as significant for any laptop, large or small, they might not be as top heavy, but an insecure table isn't really going to help either of them. Additionally, and I think it was probably mentioned by somebody else, I would expect to see the iPP being used in note-taking mode in these situations, which would not be unlike simply having a notebook and writing in that - which would be a massive advantage to a laptop. I've never been able to take notes on a computer faster than I could write them by hand - so this would be ideal for me.

    4. Digital textbooks - you have a good point there. They're a ripoff, just like physical books, except you can't avoid that by buying used at this point... that is a big problem, books are ridiculously priced and just a good way to take advantage of a captive audience with no good alternative. I would think (though I'm not in school anymore) that there are more lenient policies with regard to electronics than there were when I was in college. Laptops even then were quite plentiful, and aside from tests and quizzes and such - I don't know why they'd be limited in use. Distractions are certainly a problem, though in my case I spent the classes doing crosswords or sudoku so I don't think there'd have been an appreciable difference for me.
  22. MacRazySwe macrumors 6502a

    Aug 7, 2007
    Good for you. :)

    I don't know which courses you're taking, but personally I could never replace my computer with an iPad, for college. I've tried it, and it doesn't work. Here are a few reasons as to why that is.

    1. Microsoft Office. I study business and economics, and even the Mac OS X version of Office (2016 included) lacks many of the needed functions. Many statistical utilities in Excel are nowhere to be found, the same goes for certain formatting features in Word, even on the OS X version. Don't even get me started on Office for iPad, I've tried using it, it's a joke.

    2. Applications. During several courses we have needed to use certain OS X/Win apps. In statistics we relied heavily on both R as well as SPSS.

    3. Seminars. PowerPoint and keynote works that much better on a Mac than an iPad. I've got all the ports I need to connect to the classroom screen (no adapters, yay). I've got a file manager for sharing files with group members, offloading files from USB (not everyone has grasped the opportunities of the cloud, as of yet.)

    4. Thesis-writing. Just finished my Bachelor Thesis. Downloading those 500 files of financial data, working with those 50 spreadsheets in Excel and utilizing advanced functions, and last but not least, writing 50 pages in Word is something I would never do on an iPad without a gun to my head.

    5. Inefficiency. While I could achieve some tasks using just an iPad, I would be able to achieve those tasks in half the time using a proper computer with keyboard and trackpad.

    These are just off the top of my head. This is why the iPad Pro adds little value to me. It doesn't solve any of those problems better than the limited iPad Air that I currently have, other than allowing a pencil to draw/write. Thanks but I'll use pen and paper for that, or a cheap stylus for the iPad Air.

    I'm happy it works for you, must be a relief to only carry an iPad. :)
  23. dogslobber macrumors 68040


    Oct 19, 2014
    Apple Campus, Cupertino CA
    An iPad for note taking is a distracting waste of time. Stick to paper and pen like how people have always done it as if I caught you recording me in a meeting then you'd get thrown out.
  24. silverblack macrumors 68030


    Nov 27, 2007
    Note taking with electronic pen is like self driving car. It's not matter of whether we should or not, it's only a matter of when it will become mainstream.

    Education is changing fastest than ever in adopting technology. Online courses, online work problems, e textbooks, online quizzes are all happening already today.
  25. Phoenix111 macrumors newbie

    Oct 17, 2014
    Look out, tough guy here. Are you making inappropriate or inaccurate statements in your lectures? More over, if someone asked for consent to record first, would you then allow it? Taking such a quick hard line stance reeks of either a complete lack of self confidence in your presentations or your inability to be professional consistently perhaps.

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