iPad Air vs Macbook Air for a confused student?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by naivetiu, Jan 14, 2014.

  1. naivetiu macrumors newbie

    Dec 28, 2013
    I'm having a big dilemma and some help would be immensely appreciated.

    I bought an iPad Air recently (it's still within the return policy) and I was super satisfied with it because it's light and I can barely feel it in my backpack (I'm a 1st year university student). Here's where the problem comes: I can't use it for computer science, which is one of my two options for a major (the other one being psychology) and one of my courses this semester. My question is, should I return the iPad Air and get a Macbook Air 13" which would replace my current laptop that is too heavy to bring to school (~2.3kg + charger since the battery sucks), or keep the iPad Air and get a keyboard case for it/just write everything on paper and use the iPad Air to study at school and look at lecture slides + books?

    Some things to note: I'm worried that the Macbook Air will still be too heavy (it'll be 1.35kg, and the iPad Air is ~500g) and that I will dread bringing it with me because of this, so that I will eventually end up not bringing it if I don't major in computer science. I basically only *really* need it for computer science, but it will obviously also be useful for other classes. Btw, 95% of the students in my compsci class have a laptop with them and the prof told me it's not necessary but the course will become pretty tricky halfway through so it might be hard to follow along on paper. My current laptop is ~3 years old. I literally don't know what to do and this decision has been eating at me for days.

  2. syvwu macrumors newbie

    Jan 14, 2014
    MacBook Air is the one.
    Yes compare to 500g of iPadAir, it is heavy. But since you are not a kid, you could handle 1.5kg very easily. Moreover, you are more likely to use ms word, which I don't think it is on the iPad. Also you may have a chance to come across virtual machine.

    iPad is good when use for reading purpose.
    Macbook is good when use for both reading and writing / working purpose.

    Hope this help.

    My past experience was a Electrical Engineering student as well as Master in IT.
  3. carjakester macrumors 68020


    Oct 21, 2013
    you are complaining that the macbook will be too heavy? you should be more worried about your books. i would get the air, but you might as well just get the pro with retina if you like the retina display.
  4. SurferPup macrumors member


    Aug 20, 2011
    Sunshine Coast, Australia
    MacBook Air

    Go the MacBook Air - it is very light. I use to walk around the house holding it in one hand plus you can plug in external optical drives or access other PC/Mac optical drives in same Wi-Fi zone if you need to load study programmes. With OS X you can do everything where as iOS has limitations. Easier to type on MBA keyboard than iPad Air viritual keyboard. But recommend you buy both as iPad Air is highly mobile and very long battery charge time so might find that most days you use MBA at home and iPad Air on campus.
  5. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    IMO return the iPad and get a Macbook Air. Get the 11" version if you are worried about size/weight.

    I own and use both and I tell everybody that the iPad is great for consumption, like reading news and email etc, but for output, like a term paper, the iPad is horrible.

    Just picture yourself the last time you did a research paper. If you are like me you had six PDF's open on the desktop and about 12 browser tabs open at once and you were jumping back and forth between all those sources doing a lot of copy and pasting and web searching while piecing this all together in MS Word or whatever. Trying to do that on an iPad would be extremely painful.

    If you are in the business of producing output, I still see the iPad as a supplement to a computer and not a replacement.
  6. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    I could not get through college with just an iPad. Get the MB Air.
  7. Black.Infinity macrumors 6502


    Apr 17, 2010
    Apple tree-Toronto
  8. tgara macrumors 6502a


    Jul 17, 2012
    Connecticut, USA
    Another vote for the MacBook Air.

    For University work, you will need a proper laptop with proper applications. The iPad is fine for small things like email, surfing, reading, etc., but it is not powerful enough to prepare, for example, a complex term paper that includes figures, diagrams, references, etc. In addition, many university courses require Adobe Flash to upload or download course materials, and Flash doesn't work on an iOS7 in the iPad.
  9. VI™ macrumors 6502a

    Aug 27, 2010
    Shepherdsturd, WV
    If you need to type anything at all, the iPad will be pratically useless. The only way I'd recommend keeping it is if you still have a computer to type up papers and do reports.

    I have a 15" rMBP that will be my primary computer for school starting next week along with the disc drive, and a bag full of books. A Macbook Air would be a cinch to carry around.
  10. iSee macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2004
    When in doubt, get the laptop. And since you are strongly considering a CS major, it's a no-brainer.

    Your questions probably should be: MB Air or Pro and how much drive space to get.
  11. notjustjay macrumors 603


    Sep 19, 2003
    Canada, eh?
    When I was in university (post-grad, anyway; in undergrad I had binders, loose-leaf paper, and Pilot pens) my go-to laptop was the 12" PowerBook G4. At 1" thick and about 4 pounds, it was a marvel for its time. But both the 11" and 13" MacBook Air are even thinner, and even lighter.

    You don't realize how good you have it! Buy the MacBook Air and enjoy it.
  12. kelon111 macrumors 6502

    Mar 16, 2013
    Macbook Air , why?
    You can actually type on it and use Mac OS X and Windows 7/8/etc. and whatever programs you need on those operating systems. The hardware is also much faster overall.
  13. goodroots macrumors newbie

    Oct 29, 2011
    As a CS major, won't you have to write/run programs for different classes? Is that doable on the iPad?

    Go for the MBA. No-brainer.
  14. troy14 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 25, 2008
    Las Vegas (Summerlin), NV
    Forget the iPad. The real choice is the Macbook Air VS the 13" retina macbook pro.

    I'd say get the rMBP. It is almost as light as the MBA (which I think feels better since it is not tapered) and it looks that much better.
  15. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    One is a media consumption device and the other a real computer.

    For a computer science major, you need a real computer.

    However the school should have computers for you to use if you don't want to buy one.
  16. cfurlin macrumors regular


    Jun 14, 2011
    If you are considering a CS degree then go with the MBA, otherwise consider keeping the iPad.

    I'm a writer by profession and dumped my desktop and laptop about a month after the iPad Air released and I couldn't be happier. I have an iPad and an iPhone. Everything I did on my desktop I do on my iPad.

    The only thing that's annoying is Apple's continued tethering between iOS and iTunes. Liberate us from iTunes and life without a desktop will be perfect.

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