iPad or MBP for basic college notetaking?

Discussion in 'iPad' started by vampireszombies, Dec 31, 2011.

  1. vampireszombies macrumors 6502

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    #1
    I was set on a MBP since my vaio cant handle more than an hour without needing to be plugged in for college notes during class.
    But, now I'm without a phone and would like to purchase an iPhone 4S off contract for about 550 USD.
    So if possible, I'm looking for a cheaper alternative rather than a MBP for notes.
    I don't want a windows netbook etc.

    Is the iPad 2 (cant get the 3 since I need a notetaker by Jan) a good device to take notes with? Any actual note taking users out there?
    Isn't there office apps for iPad?
    What keyboard do you recommend?
    Can the iPad save these documents in windows office format (to open on my windows laptop)?
    Or should I just shell out the money for a full on MBP?


    Sorry for all the questions, thank you very much!
     
  2. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

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  3. vampireszombies thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #3
    Yes obviously, but I can type much much faster and more eligible than pen and paper. :)

    When I try to keep up with the professor with pen and paper I sometimes think I'm writing a whole nother language.
     
  4. macduke macrumors 604

    macduke

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    #4
    I use an Apple Wireless Keyboard with my iPad 2 for college notes, among other things like sketches. I use a MBP for design.

    It actually works quite well, and the battery lasts forever. You sometimes have to work at it just to get the battery to die. I've actually become decent at typing on the software keyboard too, which I've had to do when I forget my keyboard. My two favorite apps are Pages (part of Apple's iLife suite, and it's universal so it syncs over iCloud to your iPhone if you want to review notes) and Notability. The great thing about Notability is that it records audio while you're taking notes. If you ever miss something, or leave a detail out, you can actually skip to the section of audio that your professor was talking by clicking on a word from your document. So as you type it matches that up to a position within the audio file. It's actually really useful, and I often use the Dropbox feature to open the files on other computers.

    Honestly though, in a pinch I've used my iPhone 4S with Pages in class when I forgot to pack my iPad. The iPhone pairs up just fine with any bluetooth keyboard and the display, while small, is still somewhat legible if you position it close since the retina resolution increases legibility.

    There are also keyboard cases available for the iPad, and sometimes they're not much more expensive than the Apple Wireless Keyboard. If you check 9to5Toys they often have iPad keyboard cases listed on sale at various locations, sometimes as low as $50-60. iLounge has some nice reviews on the various models. I've never used one though. A smart cover is nice to have if you don't get a keyboard case, because then you can use it as a stand while typing. The accessories can add up in price! Just something to consider.
     
  5. ReallyBigFeet macrumors 68030

    ReallyBigFeet

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    #5
    Your best choice is a refurb'd 11" MAcbook Air. That little Netbook can go almost a full day between charges , has a good keyboard and supports MS Office, Google apps, Pages, etc. I've seen them for $800, less than that with a student discount.
     
  6. macduke macrumors 604

    macduke

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    #6
    You don't get a student discount on refurbs, but this is a viable option otherwise. More than enough to suit the OP's needs. So basically it comes down to if you want a tablet or a laptop since they are in a similar price range?

    Personally I'd go with the MBA if I had to choose, but I like to keep my options open. iPad is reaching some parity with Macs, but not completely yet.
     
  7. vampireszombies thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #7
    Thank you so much. I think I will give iPad a try with an apple BT keyboard, and if it doesn't fit my needs I can always return it :).
    Yes the accessories, screen protector, and keyboard stuff does worry me some but hopefully I can find them cheap on Amazon.

    ----------

    Yes but the iPad is still nearly half the price of a $800+ air. I rather pay the extra $300 for a full MBP.

    So iPad even with a keyboard isn't near up to par for note taking as a MBA or MBP?
     
  8. macduke macrumors 604

    macduke

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    #8
    I had a screen protector on my iPad 1, but with a smart cover I've found little use for it aside from the anti-glare option. I don't have a screen protector currently.

    I was the first person in any of my classes to use an iPad. People made fun of me. They said I was wasting my money. Now many of them have iPads and ask my advice on apps, accessories, etc since I wrote for 9to5Mac for a little while. Funny how quickly attitudes can change—and how quickly Apple can revolutionize an industry.

    It's pretty close since the process of note taking isn't too difficult. I'm just the sort of person who needs to run a lot of intensive software. But as a common example, iPad can be difficult to connect to many printers. Airprint compatibility is usually required, but sometimes you can use a special app. The keyboard works pretty well with the iPad, but remember to bring an extra pair of batteries to class in case they crap out.
     
  9. jsh1120 macrumors 65816

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    #9
    So, it appears you have a full-scale laptop for heavy lifting (your Vaio) but need something more portable (both in terms of size/weight and battery life) for use in class. If so, the iPad is a reasonable choice. But consider the following.

    () In addition to the iPad you may well need a bluetooth keyboard. (Figure that if you're a reasonably good typist, the keyboard will double your typing speed compared to the on screen iPad keyboard.) That will add somewhere around $70-$100 to the price of the iPad. You can get cheaper alternatives, but be prepared to spend that much on a keyboard and some kind of case to hold both the iPad and the keyboard.

    I'd recommend the Apple Wireless Keyboard, the Microsoft 5000 bluetooth portable keyboard, or the Logitech iPad keyboard. Each is close to a full size keyboard and is durable. (Durability is the biggest difference in keyboards. Keep in mind that a keyboard has many moving parts and once a single key breaks the keyboard is probably useless.)


    () There are numerous note taking apps available. Some support both handwriting and typing. Some have handwriting recognition. There are numerous threads (and more opinions) about the "best" note taking apps. Be prepared to spend somewhere between $5-$20 for what you like. "Free" note taking apps are often worth what you pay for them. Notability is a popular note taking app. If you need handwriting/diagrams/etc, Note Taker HD and Notes Plus are very popular. Some people use Evernote or OneNote.

    () The iWorks suite (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote) are alternatives to Microsoft Office apps. But they are alternatives, not emulations. The closest you can get to compatible Office apps are probably Documents To Go or Quick Office HD. Rumors are that Microsoft is planning a true version of Office apps for the iPad but even if true, that is probably 4-6 months down the line. Any of these apps will probably meet your needs if your requirements aren't too complex and/or your documents are not too large. But be prepared for some glitches in moving between true MS Office apps and these alternatives/emulators. (You'll also need Dropbox, SugarSync, iCloud or some other means to move documents between the iPad and your laptop.

    () You can spend $200-$400 more for a MacBook Air and get all this functionality and more. But you'll also have a (relatively small) penalty in terms of weight and size compared to an iPad. And you can, as you note, just get a MacBook Pro. But if you go either of those routes it raises the question of why you would keep your Vaio since these full-scale computers tend to overlap with the functionality of your laptop.

    ----------

    I wouldn't say that. However, a point that's often missed in these discussions is that the size of the iPad screen and the limitations of iOS impose a restriction to a single viewable window at a time. That may not be a problem if you're simply taking notes in a class but if you're accustomed to working with multiple resizable windows on a computer, you may well find these limitations to be problematic.
     
  10. vampireszombies thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #10
    Thank you for your advice. Yes my family (and myself at times) ask what I actually need another full laptop when I have a perfectly good VAIO (besides battery life) so the iPad does seem like a good alternative, especially now that I'm in need of a phone also. Its just that I heard from people (typically older) that the iPad is mostly fun and nothing useful for school and wanted to make sure thats not truly the case.

    Is dropbox an app to purchase? How easy is it to move files from an iPad to a windows computer?
     
  11. thekev, Dec 31, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2011

    thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

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    #11
    You may want to rethink your use of the word eligible as an adverb. If you can set the macbook pro on a stable surface (a desk or whatever) it would be a much faster option for taking notes. Out of those, I'd consider which model has adequate battery life for your purposes.

    My bad.... it's early. Is the battery in the Vaio just really old or something? One hour seems terrible. I'd suggest disabling Aero (choose a non Aero desktop) and any animations and stuff. Edit what launches on startup too. Turn off wifi/wireless when in class. If it's an old battery, you could see what the cost of a replacement one would be. Windows laptops often have multiple battery options. I'm fairly certain the macbook pros remain superior to the airs.

    I don't think it's worth owning multiple laptops.

    Edit: Edit: no one really needs an iphone, are you ineligible for contract pricing?
     
  12. vampireszombies thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #12
    Yes legible, sorry.

    The vaio is only a year old. It lasts about an hour then factor in about 3-5 min to turn on/start up.
     
  13. HengenJL macrumors 6502a

    HengenJL

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    #13
    Wouldn't it be cheaper to just buy a new battery for the Vaio than buying an iPad? I would think that for the cost of an iPad you could buy at least one if not two of the high capacity batteries for the Vaio.
     
  14. vampireszombies thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #14
    Thanks for the tips, I'll look up how to do those things and see if it helps.
    True, no one needs an iphone, but I was planning on buying one anyways. Nope, I sold my blackberry for an iPhone and my contract isn't up yet.

    ----------

    The vaio is sorta cumbersome to carry, its a 15.6"
    I looked at batteries for my model and they only offer the same battery I already have.
    My battery can't be THAT old that it needs replacing, right? Bought the laptop last Jan.
     
  15. HengenJL macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    If the laptop is less than a year old I would contact Sony about the battery not lasting, they should cover a replacement battery within a one year warranty.
     
  16. vampireszombies thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #16
    Thanks I'll do that and see what they say.
     
  17. thekev, Dec 31, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2011

    thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

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    #17
    hehe... well while I prefer the iphone to a blackberry, I don't use my phone enough outside of basic functions for it to be a truly big deal. My concern is that I don't know what the battery life should look like for Windows on that laptop, and I can't remember other available energy settings. You definitely won't be cpu constrained for note taking. Ipad with bluetooth keyboard sounds awkward compared to a laptop. If you go with a macbook pro but lack an OSX version of Word, Open Office is free/open source. It has bugs, but it's definitely usable, and it saves to the same formats.

    It seems weird that it would be having problems in under a year. I'd definitely contact them. Carrying a 15.6" isn't that bad especially if you have a case or something. Ivy Bridge should improve battery life with some of intel's upcoming power management functions, so waiting for it before looking at laptop updates would not actually be a bad idea. How long did the battery last when you first purchased it? Note taking shouldn't be a strain on the battery at all.
     
  18. Capt T macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    One thing to keep in mind about using the iPad is, you will need to put a little effort into getting it set up the way that works best for you and your needs for school. The nice advantage you have is people like Macduke around who probably have theirs set up very close to what will help you at first getting used to it.

    Just like with anything new make sure you give it a few weeks of class to get the feel for it. And if a note taking app isn't working for you try something else.

    Also look at goodreader. It can open quite a few different file types, has a folder system, and now has it so you can annotate. I use it quite a bit for work and organizing all the files needed. They also keep updating it and improving it. It was a launch app for the iPad.
     
  19. vampireszombies thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #19
    It lasted about 2 and a half hours I think, not to sure because I didn't take it to class with me at the time. I disabled aero and stuff now and it gave me about 25 more min.
     
  20. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

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    Two and a half is still kind of bad, but I'm glad my suggestions help a bit. Aero is one of those things I wish they never added to Windows. It's just kind of dumb. I'd inquire with Sony about that battery, and stick with the suggestions I just mentioned. With a battery replacement, it might be fine. Then you could look at a newer computer with Ivy Bridge, which as I mentioned should have better battery life during lighter computing. Quite a lot of it is related to the ability to turn off cpu cores under lighter loads. It's not that the max tdp came way down, but they are improving the overall power management at a hardware level.

    I can sympathize with you as I can type quite fast, but I would never be able to keep up with a lecture taking notes by hand. My handwriting speed is terrible, and it preceded regular computer use. When I try to write quickly, my hand cramps up :(.
     
  21. jsh1120 macrumors 65816

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    #21
    As others have noted, if you are getting only an hour from a battery on your laptop, you have problems either with the battery or your overall laptop configuration. I'd strongly recommend that you explore those issues regardless of what else you decide to do.

    It is certainly true that an iPad is not a good substitute for a laptop unless you are limiting your laptop functionality to the tasks an iPad does well. On the other hand, it's also true that an iPad can be used for more than "fun."

    Dropbox is a free app but depending upon how much data you keep on the Dropbox servers, there may be a charge for their service. If you're curious about how it works, just go to the dropbox website and download the app for your pc.
     
  22. vampireszombies thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #22
    Yeah I'm def gonna contact Sony and see what they have to say about it.
    Thanks so much for your help and replies :)

    ----------

    I'm not planning on using the iPad as a laptop replacement for college, only for notetaking during class.
    Thanks I'll look into DropBox more.
     
  23. jsh1120 macrumors 65816

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    #23

    Bottom line. College is a distant memory for me but I use my iPad for note taking in meetings on a regular and frequent basis. Furthermore, it has replaced the small (11") notebook I used on airline trips. Much easier to fit onto one of those little tables when I'm stuck in a middle seat in coach, even with a bluetooth keyboard and Origami Workstation stand. (I even have room for a scotch.) Even if you get your battery problems on your laptop sorted out, the battery life of the iPad will dwarf it.

    I'd never recommend that a college student choose an iPad over a good laptop if that's the choice. But as a complement to a good laptop, it's great.
     
  24. Liquinn Suspended

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    #24
    Wel you could get both which is what I'm doing; but it's really up to you.

    A Macbook Air may be a good choice since the limitiations of iOs can get annoying sometimes, but that's up to you.

    Also it depends on your budget I guess, the iPad is great though.
     
  25. irDigital0l Guest

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    #25
    iPad (Wifi model) costs $500-$700

    MBA costs $1000-$1600

    I think a 32GB iPad 2 with a Wireless Apple Keyboard would be great if money it an issue because it would be about $630.

    However if you got money that a MBA probably would be the better choice, there are limitations to the iPad.
     

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