iPad Pro vs MacBook Air new college student

gixxerfool

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After a long absence in school, I’ve decided to go to college. It is 100% online and in fall 2019 they are opening up to fully digital textbooks via Cengage.

I already have a Mac mini at home. I am going to install parallels with windows 10. Since Microcenter is having a good sale on the new iPad Pros, I was going to grab a 12.9”. My use case is as such:

-Access to the school LMS. There is an iOS app for this as well. This will also be my access for text books when that’s enacted.

-I will need to run Microsoft Office, including Access for a semester. I will have office 2016 free from school, that doesn’t include Access, but am willing to pay for office 365 which will give me Access and Office on iOS, if I am reading correctly.

-I would like to be able to keep notes with the iPad via pencil, keyboard or both so everything is in one place.

The price point would be near if not exceed a MBA when all is said and done. I like the thought of being to have a dedicated device just for textbooks and even can use to extend my Mac’s monitor if I want.

Is there a better option for me than this? I’m open to other products, but I’m heavily invested in Apple’s ecosystem and loathe the thought, but am not closed to the possibility, of having a Windows machine I won’t likely use after school is over.
 

tromboneaholic

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Is there a better option for me than this? I’m open to other products, but I’m heavily invested in Apple’s ecosystem and loathe the thought, but am not closed to the possibility, of having a Windows machine I won’t likely use after school is over.
Since you have a Mac Mini, that's a nice backup to have and makes the decision to go with the iPad easier. I have found syncing notes between the Mac and the iPad, along with handoff and other continuity features to be very convenient.

There are some good deals on the 9.7" 2018 iPad which would fill most of the needs you mentioned (including support for the first gen Pencil). However, I do think the 12.9" screen might be better if you don't mind the price difference.
 
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gixxerfool

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Since you have a Mac Mini, that's a nice backup to have and makes the decision to go with the iPad easier. I have found syncing notes between the Mac and the iPad, along with handoff and other continuity features to be very convenient.

There are some good deals on the 9.7" 2018 iPad which would fill most of the needs you mentioned (including support for the first gen Pencil). However, I do think the 12.9" screen might be better if you don't mind the price difference.
Thanks for the reply.

These were my thoughts as well. I’m really leaning towards the 12.9” right now. Its not so much price I’m worried about, but getting the most usability for my money. Even if it’s means spending a couple hundred more.

I’m looking at the newest iPad Pro. I want to ensure I won’t have any probable issues in the next 4 years. I figure the cost over four years will far exceed what I would have spent in physical text books.
 

mightyjabba

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I'm no expert, but I think Access is Windows only. I couldn't tell what machine you were planning on running it on.

I would generally feel that a MacBook Pro/Air is a better choice for a traditional student, but since you have the Mac mini and your courses are entirely online, you'd probably be fine with the iPad Pro as a supplementary machine.
 
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gixxerfool

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I know what you mean. It's annoying when you spend $80 on the third edition text, hoping you can sell it used for $40, and they come out with the 4th edition that classes require the next semester.
It’s crazy. My wife has a stack of textbooks from her bachelors. Thankfully her masters and doctorate are all online.

I'm no expert, but I think Access is Windows only. I couldn't tell what machine you were planning on running it on.

I would generally feel that a MacBook Pro/Air is a better choice for a traditional student, but since you have the Mac mini and your courses are entirely online, you'd probably be fine with the iPad Pro as a supplementary machine.
It is. My plan is to run Parallels with Windows installed on my Mini. This way I don’t need a dedicated Windows machine for just one semester.

I appreciate the feedback. Thanks guys
 

kazmac

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OP congrats.

I’d try and test the school’s online campus app to see how much you can actually do in it. (Upload assignments or just post responses).

I had a rude awakening with that when trying to use my long gone 2017 iPad Pro. My school uses blackboard.

As you need Office, I’d stick with using that in Windows as Mac and iOS you need to dig for commands that are readily apparent on windows. You might be already used to this, if so, great. The iPad is very helpful with pdf mark ups and note taking though.

Just a couple of things to think about with the iPads.

Good luck.
 
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gixxerfool

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OP congrats.

I’d try and test the school’s online campus app to see how much you can actually do in it. (Upload assignments or just post responses).

I had a rude awakening with that when trying to use my long gone 2017 iPad Pro. My school usies blackboard.

As you need Office, I’d stick with using that in Windows as Mac and iOS you need to dig for commands that are readily apparent on windows. You might be already used to this, if so, great. The iPad is very helpful with pdf mark ups and note taking though.

Just a couple of things to think about with the iPads.

Good luck.
Thanks very much.

I believe we use canvas. I will double check though. I know they have an iOS app. It’s not as full featured but apparently very capable. I will be sure to check on that.

It will be Windows just running in a Mac environment. Do you feel it’s something you could learn over time? I haven’t used office in 15 years or so. It would be all new to me anyway.

If it ends up not doing what I need, i will happily return it. All good points. Thanks for the help.
 

kazmac

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Thanks very much.

I believe we use canvas. I will double check though. I know they have an iOS app. It’s not as full featured but apparently very capable. I will be sure to check on that.

It will be Windows just running in a Mac environment. Do you feel it’s something you could learn over time? I haven’t used office in 15 years or so. It would be all new to me anyway.

If it ends up not doing what I need, i will happily return it. All good points. Thanks for the help.
I used Canvas in UCLA’s continuing education module, I do not remember what it was like though.

If you haven’t used Office in a long time stick to Windows, I was teaching myself Excel and PowerPoint 18 months ago and I’d stick with that platform to use it. I made myself very crazy trying to just learn on Mac and the missing and/or hidden commands pushed me toward getting a PC to learn Office proper. Since you to use Access using Windows on your Mac should be fine.

This Windows Office 2016 tutorial site is a godsend and free. I learned a lot...
 
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pcorrado

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After a long absence in school, I’ve decided to go to college. It is 100% online and in fall 2019 they are opening up to fully digital textbooks via Cengage.

I already have a Mac mini at home. I am going to install parallels with windows 10. Since Microcenter is having a good sale on the new iPad Pros, I was going to grab a 12.9”. My use case is as such:

-Access to the school LMS. There is an iOS app for this as well. This will also be my access for text books when that’s enacted.

-I will need to run Microsoft Office, including Access for a semester. I will have office 2016 free from school, that doesn’t include Access, but am willing to pay for office 365 which will give me Access and Office on iOS, if I am reading correctly.

-I would like to be able to keep notes with the iPad via pencil, keyboard or both so everything is in one place.

The price point would be near if not exceed a MBA when all is said and done. I like the thought of being to have a dedicated device just for textbooks and even can use to extend my Mac’s monitor if I want.

Is there a better option for me than this? I’m open to other products, but I’m heavily invested in Apple’s ecosystem and loathe the thought, but am not closed to the possibility, of having a Windows machine I won’t likely use after school is over.
My wife went back to school last year and is in her final year. We tried the iPad thing . . . didn't work out. A lot of her online class assignments / websites would not work with iOS. She now has an air and enjoys the experience much better.

I note, this could be a college specific issue . . . but something I hadn't thought about.
 

CLS727

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Feb 5, 2018
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iPad is only a computer replacement for people that only do web browsing, facebook, personal photos, and maybe some movie/netflix streaming....... and honestly that's probably like 80% or more of the USA population, at least for a personal computer.

The only thing that I hate trying to do on an iPad is Microsoft Word, Excel, and Power Point stuff.... which is mostly all I used for school..... but if you have a Mac Mini for that, and the iPad is just for note taking, and for accessing stuff on the go... then you're probably fine.
 
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flur

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I’d go with the iPad as well. For Access, I don’t think Parallels will give it enough memory and power. You might consider a boot camp installation on your Mini.
 

gixxerfool

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I’d go with the iPad as well. For Access, I don’t think Parallels will give it enough memory and power. You might consider a boot camp installation on your Mini.
Hmmm. I didn’t think of this. Is Access that intensive? I’m not against a boot camp install, although I’ve never done it, I’m running a fusion drive on my mini with no partitions. I’ll have to find out what’s involved. Thanks for the tip.
 

cardfan

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I prefer textbooks myself. It’s just easier to multitask as I had stuff laying all over a table back in the college days cramming for tests. IMO you have what you need. Perhaps you should see how it goes first. FWIW I hated online classes.
 

flur

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Hmmm. I didn’t think of this. Is Access that intensive? I’m not against a boot camp install, although I’ve never done it, I’m running a fusion drive on my mini with no partitions. I’ll have to find out what’s involved. Thanks for the tip.
It depends on what you’re doing with it, but if you’re pulling from large data sets, it can really bog down the machine. I’ve only used it in business environments, where we’re using huge data sets often with multiple connections to external data and several joins. You could always try it out in Parallels, but switching when you’re mid-class might be a huge pain.
 
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sosumi99

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Hmmm. I didn’t think of this. Is Access that intensive? I’m not against a boot camp install, although I’ve never done it, I’m running a fusion drive on my mini with no partitions. I’ll have to find out what’s involved. Thanks for the tip.
I run Access on my little 2016 MacBook through Parallels just fine. I'm sure it will groan if you use a giant database, but that tends not to be the case for school uses. And honestly, performance in Parallels for business apps is so good now that you won't see a huge boost in Bootcamp. (Games are a different matter, but Macs are terrible gaming machines period)

I agree that if you have a Mac Mini to back you up, then the iPad will work for you -- for taking notes by hand and reading textbooks there's really nothing better. Like another poster said, a lot of these online education platforms just don't support mobile Safari well (and the iOS apps they put out are often lacking in features), but again, since you have a Mini to back you up, it's not a big deal.

Just temper your expectations. The iPad will do a few things related to being a student better than any other device, but it is not a jack of all trades.
 
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muzzy996

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Hmmm. I didn’t think of this. Is Access that intensive? I’m not against a boot camp install, although I’ve never done it, I’m running a fusion drive on my mini with no partitions. I’ll have to find out what’s involved. Thanks for the tip.
I dunno, my thinking is if all you're going to do with Access is learn how to do databases for class I suspect you'll be ok with your original plan of using Parallels. If you were planning on doing production type stuff with large databases then yeah maybe plan for something more robust. I'd do a trial in Parallels first rather than go through the effort of doing a boot camp install for an OS you aren't intending to keep forever. That's just me though.

Edit: On the flip side, boot camp doesn't cost anything so there's that.
 
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flur

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iPad is only a computer replacement for people that only do web browsing, facebook, personal photos, and maybe some movie/netflix streaming....... and honestly that's probably like 80% or more of the USA population, at least for a personal computer.
I really wish people would stop saying stuff like this, when there are whole threads on this topic. I’m a writer, and I just finished grad school. I work in large part on my iPad using Word, Scrivener, light Excel use, email (Newton app, RIP), keynote, kindle, web-based apps, etc. I gave my grad lecture with keynote on my iPad Air 2 and did a bunch of work for my critical thesis on it as well. I did all my lecture notes on my iPad. If I’d had a Pro with a pencil, I would have loved that for workshops.
 

Robertjan88

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Oct 30, 2018
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I really wish people would stop saying stuff like this, when there are whole threads on this topic. I’m a writer, and I just finished grad school. I work in large part on my iPad using Word, Scrivener, light Excel use, email (Newton app, RIP), keynote, kindle, web-based apps, etc. I gave my grad lecture with keynote on my iPad Air 2 and did a bunch of work for my critical thesis on it as well. I did all my lecture notes on my iPad. If I’d had a Pro with a pencil, I would have loved that for workshops.
If you want to do anything else than using it for office and browsing, you could go with the MacBook Pro.

Of you want small form factor, power AND drawing capabilites, but are fine with certain restrictions, the iPad Pro will a great fit as well.

The CPU inside the Air is a complete joke. It's about 3x as slow as the basic i5 quad-core in the MacBook Pro 13 and barely faster than the one used for the Air several years back.

Please find a good review (incl. benchmarkst) here: https://www.notebookcheck.net/Apple-MacBook-Air-2018-i5-256-GB-Laptop-Review.357481.0.html
 
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muzzy996

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I really wish people would stop saying stuff like this, when there are whole threads on this topic. I’m a writer, and I just finished grad school. I work in large part on my iPad using Word, Scrivener, light Excel use, email (Newton app, RIP), keynote, kindle, web-based apps, etc. I gave my grad lecture with keynote on my iPad Air 2 and did a bunch of work for my critical thesis on it as well. I did all my lecture notes on my iPad. If I’d had a Pro with a pencil, I would have loved that for workshops.
Yeah, OP clearly shared their intentions on how they'll use the iPad. OP will be taking online courses and working in front of a Mac Mini so the iPad will be supplementing that. i think that workflow seems sound.

OP did ask if there are better options so that's probably why others interjecting their own workflows into the thread. I do wonder if others are thinking about OP's full workflow though . .
 
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gixxerfool

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I'd go with the iPad for your use case. You can remote into the mini when needed.
That’s the thought. I’m not looking to do everything on iPad, just supplement and keep everything in one place.

It depends on what you’re doing with it, but if you’re pulling from large data sets, it can really bog down the machine. I’ve only used it in business environments, where we’re using huge data sets often with multiple connections to external data and several joins. You could always try it out in Parallels, but switching when you’re mid-class might be a huge pain.
Thankfully my wife tutors for the class. From what she said you’re not querying anything as much as building your own datasets and starting from scratch.

I run Access on my little 2016 MacBook through Parallels just fine. I'm sure it will groan if you use a giant database, but that tends not to be the case for school uses. And honestly, performance in Parallels for business apps is so good now that you won't see a huge boost in Bootcamp. (Games are a different matter, but Macs are terrible gaming machines period)

I agree that if you have a Mac Mini to back you up, then the iPad will work for you -- for taking notes by hand and reading textbooks there's really nothing better. Like another poster said, a lot of these online education platforms just don't support mobile Safari well (and the iOS apps they put out are often lacking in features), but again, since you have a Mini to back you up, it's not a big deal.

Just temper your expectations. The iPad will do a few things related to being a student better than any other device, but it is not a jack of all trades.
Thankfully after the first semester they’re moving away from Pearson and more towards companies that support mobile devices better.

I dunno, my thinking is if all you're going to do with Access is learn how to do databases for class I suspect you'll be ok with your original plan of using Parallels. If you were planning on doing production type stuff with large databases then yeah maybe plan for something more robust. I'd do a trial in Parallels first rather than go through the effort of doing a boot camp install for an OS you aren't intending to keep forever. That's just me though.

Edit: On the flip side, boot camp doesn't cost anything so there's that.
It is free, but more of a “permanent” solution as it were. If it becomes something I feel will require a dedicated machine, I may go that route.

I really wish people would stop saying stuff like this, when there are whole threads on this topic. I’m a writer, and I just finished grad school. I work in large part on my iPad using Word, Scrivener, light Excel use, email (Newton app, RIP), keynote, kindle, web-based apps, etc. I gave my grad lecture with keynote on my iPad Air 2 and did a bunch of work for my critical thesis on it as well. I did all my lecture notes on my iPad. If I’d had a Pro with a pencil, I would have loved that for workshops.
There’s definitely been a shift towards this being case. I’m hoping to keep everything organized in one spot with this.

Thanks everyone for the input. This has helped a lot.
[doublepost=1544212938][/doublepost]
Yeah, OP clearly shared their intentions on how they'll use the iPad. OP will be taking online courses and working in front of a Mac Mini so the iPad will be supplementing that. i think that workflow seems sound.

OP did ask if there are better options so that's probably why others interjecting their own workflows into the thread. I do wonder if others are thinking about OP's full workflow though . .
This is correct. I’m leaving the “heavy lifting” to the mini and using the iPad for light mobile work, working on word docs or reading or review work things like that. I figure instead of carrying books and notebooks around this would be a better solution particularly with split screen support.
 

kazmac

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Mar 24, 2010
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That’s the thought. I’m not looking to do everything on iPad, just supplement and keep everything in one place.



Thankfully my wife tutors for the class. From what she said you’re not querying anything as much as building your own datasets and starting from scratch.



Thankfully after the first semester they’re moving away from Pearson and more towards companies that support mobile devices better.



It is free, but more of a “permanent” solution as it were. If it becomes something I feel will require a dedicated machine, I may go that route.



There’s definitely been a shift towards this being case. I’m hoping to keep everything organized in one spot with this.

Thanks everyone for the input. This has helped a lot.
[doublepost=1544212938][/doublepost]

This is correct. I’m leaving the “heavy lifting” to the mini and using the iPad for light mobile work, working on word docs or reading or review work things like that. I figure instead of carrying books and notebooks around this would be a better solution particularly with split screen support.
If you’re just using word for mark up you should be fine with an iPad if the iOS apps work for your usage. PDF mark up on the iPad is a big help.
 
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flur

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Nov 12, 2012
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That’s the thought. I’m not looking to do everything on iPad, just supplement and keep everything in one place.



Thankfully my wife tutors for the class. From what she said you’re not querying anything as much as building your own datasets and starting from scratch.



Thankfully after the first semester they’re moving away from Pearson and more towards companies that support mobile devices better.



It is free, but more of a “permanent” solution as it were. If it becomes something I feel will require a dedicated machine, I may go that route.



There’s definitely been a shift towards this being case. I’m hoping to keep everything organized in one spot with this.

Thanks everyone for the input. This has helped a lot.
[doublepost=1544212938][/doublepost]

This is correct. I’m leaving the “heavy lifting” to the mini and using the iPad for light mobile work, working on word docs or reading or review work things like that. I figure instead of carrying books and notebooks around this would be a better solution particularly with split screen support.
You’ll be fine in Parallels then. Good luck with school!
 
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