College: Having a laptop and iPad a good combo?

Discussion in 'iPad' started by AmazingTechGeek, Jul 29, 2015.

  1. AmazingTechGeek macrumors 6502


    Mar 6, 2015
    Would I benefit having a laptop and iPad for college. Both have pros and cons. I think having both could tailor my different needs.
  2. rui no onna macrumors 603

    rui no onna

    Oct 25, 2013
    If you can easily afford it (meaning you don't have to go into debt to buy them), then sure, why not? I tend to prefer iPads for PDFs and the laptop whenever heavy typing is involved. Also, depending on your major, sometimes a laptop (often Windows-based) is necessary for proprietary software for some classes.
  3. silverblack macrumors 68030


    Nov 27, 2007
    Laptop? Yes definitely. Get one with at least 13" screen.
    iPad? Not really. I can't see much use that cannot done with your laptop.
  4. Hal~9000 macrumors 68000


    Sep 13, 2014
    Really depends on what your major is and what type of coursework you expect.

    The benefits of an iPad (say with a bluetooth keyboard case) as a laptop like option are 1) extreme portability and 2) the option of a built in cellular radio. An alternative option if you wanted both of these in an actual laptop is to get the 11 inch MBA and have a smartphone plan that includes tethering.
  5. makinao macrumors regular

    Dec 27, 2009
    My daughter had a laptop and a kindle. She was taking comparative literature. She had tons of writing which needed a good laptop. She also had tons of readings which she wanted to peruse anywhere without having to lug around her laptop.

    She just graduated and got a job as a writer for the website of a local tv channel. She doesn't need her laptop because they have PCs in the office. She got herself an iPad so she can write anywhere (either in the studio or in the field) and just upload everything to dropbox.
  6. silverblack, Jul 29, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2015

    silverblack macrumors 68030


    Nov 27, 2007
    I respectfully disagree with you.

    1. Portable means nothing if the iPad isn't that useful for classes. One may use it for note taking, but then you will need a keyboard. In that case 13" MBA isn't much heavier but a lot more versatile.

    2. Most, if not all, campuses have wifi nearly everywhere.

    I like the iPad myself too because it is more fun than a MacBook. But for a student, it is more of a distraction. OP can surely tell you about his love for his iPad Air 2.
  7. Hal~9000 macrumors 68000


    Sep 13, 2014
    You won't find much argument from me silverblack :D

    I definitely went with the 13-inch MBA for college (due to needing MS Office), but was simply trying to play devils advocate and put myself in the mind of someone on the other side of the fence trying to justify the benefits of an iPad + bluetooth keyboard combo for school.

    As a college student in the past I wasn't at campus much (outside of lecture) and would have occasionally liked to have cellular data on a 'computer' when I wasn't around WiFi to download forms from my class website or research things for a project. Not to mention that a few times I would be taking a timed exam at home and my WiFi router would screw up, causing me a massive headache that a cellular connection would have helped avoid.

    Also the 13-inch MBA is 3 pounds, while an iPad + bluetooth keyboard is half of that (a big difference) and much more able to be carried without a backpack.
  8. Badrottie Suspended


    May 8, 2011
    Los Angeles
  9. GaryNoine macrumors member


    Jul 28, 2015
    Having been a college student at a large university, I really felt left out after walking into class with my MBP, seeing everyone else typing away on their iPads and iPad Minis (some with bluetooth keyboards, some without). At first I thought it was a passing trend, until I saw more and more people with iPads. Thanks to my constant desire to fit in, I had to purchase one myself. Best thing I ever did. Note taking was so much easier and the distraction to click over to another app was also greatly reduced. I actually felt myself wanting to take more notes, trying to get the most out of my newly-purchased technology.

    That being said, I had a friend who did the same thing and hated the smaller screen for note taking. It's really one of those things where if you have a laptop, you don't really need an iPad; however, if you happen to get one it could be beneficial, depending on what you like.
  10. wineandcarbs macrumors 6502a

    May 2, 2008
    A laptop would be the top priority for me.

    An iPad, while not necessary, could be complement it nicely. It comes in handy for reading PDFs and you can even get digital copies of some textbooks.

    If you could only get one, I'd go with the laptop, but if you can afford an iPad as well the iPad could complement the laptop quite nicely. Good luck with your studies!
  11. Newtons Apple Suspended

    Newtons Apple

    Mar 12, 2014
    Jacksonville, Florida
    If you have the money both are nice to have. If not go for the laptop as the iPad is not a substitute for a real computer.
  12. Hastings101 macrumors 68020


    Jun 22, 2010
    I'd just use one of the smaller Macbook/Airs/Pros as they've gotten pretty light now and are far more versatile than the iPad. Grab an iPad too for watching movies and playing games, but don't count on it much for productivity.
  13. batting1000 macrumors 604

    Sep 4, 2011
    For me personally, I have my desktop Mac mini at home and I have an iPad Air 2 w/ a Apple wireless bluetooth keyboard for class. (You save money by not having to get a new keyboard case if you happen to get a new iPad.) However I may eventually need a laptop if I need to be able to run a specific program in class that the iPad doesn't support.
  14. Warbrain macrumors 603


    Jun 28, 2004
    Chicago, IL
    I can't think of any reason you would go with a laptop and an iPad for school. Save yourself the money and only get a laptop.
  15. rui no onna macrumors 603

    rui no onna

    Oct 25, 2013
    Convenience. I much prefer using the iPad for PDF textbooks (with GoodReader) than the laptop. It's also much easier to use the iPad while you're standing and waiting in line than it is the laptop. :rolleyes:

    If I can only have one, though, it'll be laptop no question.
  16. Warbrain macrumors 603


    Jun 28, 2004
    Chicago, IL
    PDF books is a good point and I didn't consider that. Even then, I'd say that a MacBook is still a good device that could be used while standing and waiting in line.
  17. silverblack macrumors 68030


    Nov 27, 2007
    The question I would ask is, even if you bought both, which one will you take with you everyday?

    Are you going to take the lighter iPad, and risk being limited on that you could do? Or are you just going to bare the extra pound in weight from the laptop, and have the peace of mind that you are prepared for any situations of software needs?
  18. scaredpoet, Jul 30, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2015

    scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    As someone who's owned both a 13"MBA and an iPad, I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with you there. Each is plenty versatile, but in very different ways. I did a lot of reading for my coursework, and that task is a LOT easier and more convenient to do on an iPad than on a laptop. And in terms of note taking in a class, and iPad paired with the right keyboard is still lighter and more convenient. Not to mention you have the option of going without the keyboard on an iPad if the situation warrants it.

    That said, a laptop is pretty much a necessity for heavier applications and full-on paper writing, where you're juggling multiple windows to look over notes and readings to put everything together.

    If you can only afford one, get the MacBook Air. if you can afford both, you can definitely benefit from having both.

    Whether the Wifi is good, or reliable, is a whole other story. Some campuses are better at it than others, but a lot of them do a pretty poor job of it.

    Neither is an "every day, every situation" device. If that were the case, then Apple could just discontinue one device and only sell the other. What you do is assess what you're going to need, and take the device that fits the situation best.

    The latter isn't always true. I've been stuck in situations (study groups, crowded lectures, crammed study/meeting spaces) before where the laptop was too much bulk, awkard to deal with, and made me stick out like a sore thumb, and where the iPad was the better choice. Pre-iPad, there were times where I brought my laptop, and it stayed in my bag anyway, because taking it out would've been too impractical.
  19. rui no onna macrumors 603

    rui no onna

    Oct 25, 2013
    To be honest, most likely the iPad for everyday stuff unless there's something I know I'll need the laptop for. All my labs had dedicated desktops anyway and for note taking during lectures, I still prefer pen and paper.
  20. silverblack macrumors 68030


    Nov 27, 2007
    Fair enough... although this is where the new 12" retina Macbook would really shine.
  21. Warbrain macrumors 603


    Jun 28, 2004
    Chicago, IL
    Exactly. I can't think of a better computer that covers so much ground for a student than the MacBook.
  22. akimoriRyuuji, Jul 31, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2015

    akimoriRyuuji macrumors regular


    Jun 28, 2015
    I use a Macbook and now an iPad Mini.
    The Macbook covers most of my needs, but having an extra screen doesn't hurt. I can imagine myself marking up pdfs, reviewing notes (that I would have typed/marked on pdfs and then just write by hand looking at them later), entertainment between classes, reading textbooks, quick web queries, etc all from my iPad.

    But as others have said, get a laptop first. An apple laptop would be best. Macbook Air is my recommendation, but some others might suggest the new Macbook. However, I would say the Macbook Air is a better choice because one, you have a USB 3.0 port, has better battery, larger screen (but only 1440x900 resolution if you can live with that), nicer feeling keyboard, better power behind it. And you can get it cheaper.

    My recommendation for the iPad would be the Mini 2 (Mini 3 isn't worth it) as you would already have a laptop screen that would be large enough.
  23. Scott Baret macrumors newbie

    Mar 6, 2011
    While my college days were pre-iPad, I have attempted to use an iPad as a note-taking device in continuing education courses and also for notes in general.

    My advice? You will need a laptop to go along with it.

    For short bursts of notes from meetings or the like, the iPad should be OK. If you get an external keyboard, it should be fine for taking notes in any situation, but unless you're really good at using the touchscreen keyboard (which is very easy to make mistakes on, especially if you're used to using physical keyboards), you should stick with the laptop.

    One big advantage for students is that the iPad doesn't multitask as well. There's no hiding a webpage window aside your notes; by the time you switch from Safari to Pages, you've missed what you're going to write down, and you'll realize how dearly you pay for that early on.

    The touch keyboard, more difficult editing (no mouse/trackpad), and more limited file management are what prohibit me from using my iPad more often. It mostly gets taken along when only small amounts of text are going to be entered. Everything else goes to a laptop.

    For writing papers and larger assignments, a laptop is almost a necessity. Yes, it is possible to write the papers or complete the projects on an iPad, but you'll need lots of patience.

    I do like my iPad for books. If you can get copies of the books you need on the iPad, it's worth it to have the iPad next to you while you use the laptop.

    Calendars and other organizational tools are about equal.

    We all know, of course, that you aren't going to be doing academics 24/7 at college. The iPad is the better entertainment machine--I use mine for Netflix, books, maybe an occasional round of the old SimCity Deluxe.

    IF I WERE YOU...I'd get an iPad (larger size) and an 11" MacBook Air. A lot of people think the screen on the 11" is too small, but I've used two of them over the last five years and they've both been fine, even for producing page layout work (it's small but doable; of course, I was raised on 9" Mac Classic screens). Use them as a tandem and find what works best for you.

    If money is an issue and you can only get one, however, the laptop is going to be a better fit for college overall if only for the ease of word processing.
  24. Mlrollin91 macrumors G5


    Nov 20, 2008
    Ventura County
    Just throwing my personal experience in here. For the last 4 years, I've been using a 11" Air and an iPad 2 for undergrad and soon to be grad school. Most of my textbooks can be found in digital format, and I use the iPad for that and quick note taking. I use the 11" Air for papers and assignments. The combination has been perfect and I wouldn't change it.
  25. Royksöpp macrumors 6502a


    Nov 4, 2013
    It's handy but not necessary. Unless you're an art student or you plan on using it for textbooks I don't see why a laptop wouldn't suffice. I'm a graphic design student and I need both.

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