All iPads How useful is iPad for a university student?

Discussion in 'iPad' started by vmflapem, Dec 27, 2013.

  1. vmflapem macrumors 6502

    Dec 27, 2013
    I have a MacBook pro, but since it is too heavy to carry to school every day, I'm debating on whether I should buy a MacBook Air or an iPad Air.

    I'm only going to be using it for typing notes onto PDF files (and sometimes drawing diagrams too)

    If I buy the iPad Air, I'm also gonna buy a keyboard.
    Is iPad Air really useful for taking notes purposes?
  2. BasicGreatGuy, Dec 27, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2013

    BasicGreatGuy Contributor


    Sep 21, 2012
    In the middle of several books.
    It will be useful for that. I plan on doing the same with my new iPad Air, along with using it to read college textbooks. Whether you need a separate keyboard to type effectively is a different matter, and one that is unique for each person.
  3. jojoba macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
    I'm a researcher and use my iPad extensively for academic work. I've written about how an iPad can be useful for academic work here

    I've also written about note taking for academic purposes here:

    Personally, I don't like typing on the stock keyboard. I either use a stylus with one of the programs described in those links, or I use an Apple wireless keyboard with an origami workstation.

    You can also look up the threads of a user on this forum called palpatine. He has lots of info on how to use an iPad for university.
  4. tanderson11 macrumors member

    Jul 21, 2010
    I got my iPad in march and haven't hardly used my Mac Pro for school since then. I do only use it for writing papers and posting things online. As for papers, I type them through google drive and then edit them into word on my laptop. I love the iPad for school, the only reason I haven't sold my MP is because I need itunes.
  5. BasicGreatGuy Contributor


    Sep 21, 2012
    In the middle of several books.
    Thank you very much for your informative post.
  6. The Samurai macrumors 68000

    The Samurai

    Dec 29, 2007
    Don't expect it to replace your MacBook or desktop machine any time soon. The iPad is handy as an addition in certain university settings i.e. Taking notes in lectures, having your lecture slides in a lecture, using it during group presentations.

    You'd still want your Mac to type up reports, preparing keynote slides and lengthy emails.

    Don't get me wrong, you CAN do all the above on the iPad but only if you have time on your hands... In which, being a student, you probably don't. Something which you can do in 10 minutes on a computer (desktop or laptop) will take longer on an iPad... Especially if your going between a lot of documents I.e. Journals, referencing etc.
  7. Wiesenlooser macrumors 6502a

    Jul 9, 2010
    I'm using one or my studying and it's great. It is very portable and you can use a Bluetooth keyboard if you want.

    Also creating keynote presentations is awesome. iOS Keynote is better then desktop PowerPoint for example.

    It is also the best reading device ( if you don't count kindle that is).

    Of course a MacBook Air 11" is almost the same size (though heavier) and it ships with full fledged OS X. However - it's not like it is going to be the total productive device since OS X on the MacBook Air 11 is kind of cramped.

    I can only recommend it
  8. Mainsail macrumors 6502a

    Sep 19, 2010
    My nephew is at Rice this fall. He brought an ipad and a windows laptop. The laptop crapped out after a month or so. For the remainder of the term, he just used the ipad and campus computers when needed.

    Apparently, campus computers are everywhere at Rice, including the basement of his dorm. So, he never had a problem getting on to a computer. Rice is a well funded private school, and maybe other campuses are not so well equipped. Nevertheless, I thought it was surprising that a student could get by this way.

    Personnally, I sent my daughter to college this fall with a MacBook Air.
  9. Mxbzz macrumors 6502

    Jul 22, 2012
    The ability to multitask (such as taking notes and having a PowerPoint presentation open) made the Macbook Air the obvious choice for me.

    With the Air's weight and dimensions, I think it is the ideal computer for students.
  10. mcdspncr macrumors regular


    Jul 2, 2011
    I bought my iPad 1 as a first year medical student, and for reading and annotating PDF's, textbooks, and basic academics it lasted me years of daily use. Now I have my iPad Air with the new Zagg Keyboard and it truly is replacing my laptop. For the tasks the OP suggested, I think it is perfectly suited.
  11. vmflapem thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 27, 2013
    Thanks everyone.
    I've decided to go for an iPad Air! I think it's kinda of a waste if I buy the Macbook Air since I already have a Macbook Pro.
  12. jojoba macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011

    Sounds like a good choice!
  13. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    That makes a lot of sense and the iPad Air will compliment the MBP more then the MBA and MBP would.

    Congrats on your new purchase :D
  14. MartinAppleGuy macrumors 68020


    Sep 27, 2013
    More useful than ever not that it has iLife and iWork for free. Works really great.
  15. DJJAZZYJET macrumors 6502

    Jun 4, 2011
    A MBP is too heavy to carry with you? Time to hit the gym.
  16. mattkidd macrumors regular


    Aug 6, 2008
    United Kingdom England Northants
    Hey there!

    I'm about to start my final year at University in September and have been using the iPad since the early days! Starting with my iPad 2 and moving onto the iPad Mini and now the Air.

    As others have stated do not except the iPad to completely replace the role of a computer.

    In my case I study Computer science therefore some of the work I am involved in has no option but to use a computer. In my case either my MacBook Air or Windows 8 machine. This includes tasks such as networking, programming....

    However for most of my study work which includes: attending lectures, researching, writing notes, preparing presentations, writing reports the iPad is without a doubt a handy tool.

    It's all about finding your own use cases for the iPad and fitting this around your university setup. Personally I recommend downloading some apps and finding those which work best for you.

    I currently use:

    - Evernote
    - iWorks
    - Clear+

  17. Krazy Bill, Dec 29, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2013

    Krazy Bill macrumors 68030

    Krazy Bill

    Dec 21, 2011
    I have one of the earlier releases of that keyboard for the Air. Is your SpaceBar key stubborn and finicky like mine? Especially the right side?

    I don't think Zagg put enough contacts in that long key and I have to remember to whack the thing hard just so it registers a space.

    Another perspective: I'd sell the MBP and get an 11" MBA. That little thing will give you the best of both the iPad and a Laptop. And it uses a real OS.
  18. Rocketpaul macrumors regular

    Aug 3, 2012
    I am thinking of getting the iPad mini Retina, I have access to all my text books as PDF downloadable from a website and I think it could work very well.

    Not sure the mini will be large enough to display my text books though hmm. No way it could replace my rMBP but it could replace my entire book collection.
  19. RickTaylor macrumors 6502a

    Nov 9, 2013
    I used the mini and now the retina mini for my book collection, which includes textbooks in PDF format. PDFs are not always quite as readable as they would be on a full size iPad would be, and I often resize documents to hide the margins to make up for that (which most PDF readers support). But it's worked wonderfully, and for me the additional portability is well worth the minor inconvenience. As always, YMMV.
  20. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Jul 17, 2008
    11” MBA is great for portability, but for me that screen would feel too small when working on a paper -- I find I like to be able to see 2-3 paragraphs at once while writing. I know this is an individual thing, and other people wouldn't be bothered by this, just pointing out why iPad + MBP could be a better choice, depending on how you use your computer.
  21. Rocketpaul macrumors regular

    Aug 3, 2012
    Thanks for your input, how does it cope with large PDFs, I'm talking 200mb PDFs with up to 2000 pages. Nothing would drive me more insane than stuttering while scrolling.
  22. Krazy Bill macrumors 68030

    Krazy Bill

    Dec 21, 2011
    That's why you get an inexpensive external monitor for that 11" MBA when you're deskbound.

    Just pointing out that by the time you start buying pricey accessories like a keyboard for an iPad you can spend more money on that thing than you will on an 11" MBAir. And the Mac will run circles around it as well.
  23. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Jul 17, 2008
    Agree that if you are going to be pairing a keyboard with an iPad, you should seriously consider the 11 inch MBA. For me, the iPad is best when used for reading, surfing the web, and possibly marking up PDFs.

    But since OP already has an MBP, it might not make sense to switch that with an MBA + external monitor combo. It all depends on whether they want to do extensive typing while on the go. And as nice and functional as the MBA is, that keyboard doesn't come off. And there's nothing like curling up with an iPad on a sofa or in bed, to savor a good book or an in-depth web article. ;)
  24. RickTaylor macrumors 6502a

    Nov 9, 2013
    The PDFs I read tend to be smaller, perhaps 15 to 25 megabytes. After reading your post, I downloaded a 70 megabyte file and it read it fine, scrolling was fast and smooth. If there's a publicly available file you can give me a link to I can take a look at it. Or if you have access to a store with a demo ipad available within reach of wi fi, you can upload a file to drop box or some similar service and try it on the demo model.
  25. jav6454 macrumors P6


    Nov 14, 2007
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    It will depend entirely on your professor, class and type of class you take [lecture/lab].

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