Is Writing a Thesis on an iPad Do-able?

Discussion in 'iPad' started by ejlorge, Oct 9, 2010.

  1. ejlorge macrumors newbie


    Feb 15, 2010
    Hello all, I have been writing my thesis on an Macbook Air which got dropped and is too expensive to fix. So I am debating between getting a regular MacBook and an iPad as a replacement.

    The problem of course isn't the iPad's memory, but the typing function. My question is: How difficult is it to type for one or two hours at a time on the iPad? Is the screen to small for text docs?

    Also, I read somewhere that typing on the same plane as the screen feels unnatural. Do you find this to be the case?

    Thanks for your advice. ;)
  2. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Jul 17, 2008
    Typing on the iPad for something as long as a thesis would probably be a suboptiomal experience. But you can always get the keyboard dock or a bluetooth keyboard. But then again, if you need footnotes and/or endnotes, or other fancy formatting options, I don't think the word processing apps for the iPad are quite there yet.
  3. steezy1337 macrumors 6502

    Dec 29, 2008
    Carlisle, UK
    depending on what kind of formatting options you need i can't see why not, it'd probably be easier if you got a bluetooth keyboard for it as well but you're still gonna need some form of computer for updates and syncing. you also need to think about if you've got any other reasons for an ipad, they're a great device if you can find a niche in your life that it can fill but i wouldn't want to be forced to used an iPad everyday it's much nicer as an option.
  4. wirelessmacuser macrumors 68000


    Dec 20, 2009
    Why would one want to do this?

    Yes, I understand their are some reasons, but still...
  5. Jsn macrumors member

    Feb 1, 2008
    A real thesis, with footnotes and everything? Then you probably want a real word processor. Sorry, but Pages for the iPad doesn't make the cut.Not yet, at least.

    As to the longterm usage of the onscreen keyboard: I wouldn't recommend it. You really do want some sort of physical feedback, and most importantly a "give" of some kind. Slamming your fingertips against a hard, smooth surface, several thousand times a day, isn't going to make your hands feel wonderful.
  6. LiloThePleo macrumors 6502

    Aug 8, 2010
    I've done university assignments on mine, I'm working on one now in keynote...

    Just remember not to tap too hard or you'll get sore fingers and prop the iPad up a little.

    Also a Bluetooth keyboard probably isn't a bad idea :)

    Edit: I add footnotes just by dropping the font size.
  7. Theophany macrumors 6502a


    Nov 16, 2008
    NW London.
    I'm writing three dissertations this year (30,000 word count total). Subsequently ebayed my iPad and keyboard dock and bought myself an Alienware m15x. The iPad's word processing capabilities are great for typing up the odd thing, but if you're doing serious work it's a joke.

    The iPad's a great toy and whatnot, but frankly speaking I struggled to type up lecture notes on it, attempting to do a serious piece of academic research on it would drive me up the wall.

    EDIT: Bye bye!
  8. ditzy macrumors 68000


    Sep 28, 2007
    While I'm sure that it is technically possible, I certainly wouldn't attempt to do it.
  9. kuwisdelu macrumors 65816

    Jan 13, 2008
    An ordinary paper or essay? Sure.

    A thesis or dissertation? I wouldn't.
  10. tkingart macrumors 6502


    Apr 1, 2010
    West Coast
    I don't see why not, I'm using my iPad to write a book, at 1-3 chapters per file (mostly for organization), but I'm also using my iMac bluetooth keyboard which I'm used to typing on. The iPad keyboard is nice to type on, but thumbing a book in isn't "ideal" for me.

    The iPad has made it possible for me to get in about 5 pages each night while in bed before going to sleep, an otherwise project that I would have never finished if not for the existence of the iPad. Thanks a ton Apple!
  11. ejlorge thread starter macrumors newbie


    Feb 15, 2010
    Thanks to everyone for some very good points.

    I should have mentioned that I have a new-ish iMac as my regular desktop. The prob is my wife works from it too so I need a second independent device to keep the peace.;)

    Someone asked, Why? Its a good question. I guess because if an iPad would be even more versatile (i.e. portable) than a Macbook, then I might be more prone to taking more places with me. Plus, of course the fact that it is about half the price as a Macbook. Finally, I don't really need all those extra apps and power for writing a text doc.

    And yes, an external keyboard would definitely be needed—(which might negate the portability point).

    Exactly what I was thinking.
  12. Winni macrumors 68040


    Oct 15, 2008

    Even 20 years ago, you could have already bought a notebook computer for that purpose which would have provided more comfort for writing. Really, the iPad probably is the worst typing device to use in bed.
  13. flopticalcube macrumors G4


    Sep 7, 2006
    In the velcro closure of America's Hat
    Basic writing would be acceptable but editing is a nightmare. A hackintosh netbook would be superior and portable.
  14. tkingart macrumors 6502


    Apr 1, 2010
    West Coast
    I have tried using a MacBook, MacBook Pro, even a NetBook, but all felt "bulky" and would get really warm, not the iPad. The iPad stays cool, it's a LOT lighter so you barely notice the weight, because of these things you are unaware of the iPad as you are typing in (I use Pages), not to mention the iPad just feels "natural" to use, I admit that iOS 4.2 would make things much better with multitasking, and I'm fine with that since it's coming out in November. Honestly, the iPad is very portable, I take it everywhere with me
    (TIP: get a carry case with a strap, over your shoulder on your back like a mini backpack.)

    The iPad feels like a digital book, it's both a pleasure to read books/magazines on, as it is to write documentation. The iPad specific apps out now for such things- are amazing! (check out iMockups and ArtStudio.)

    Btw, I spent a lot of money on cases until I found a philips case for $10 at Walmart with a strap on it (not a place I normally go), but it's funny that it's been the best case thus far. (TIP: Don't get expensive looking cases, they draw attention to the fact you're carrying around a just-sub 1k device with a high resale value around.) The ideal case is one that is comfortable, and looks like your carrying around your 1980 cassette tapes collection with you. ;)
  15. anjinha macrumors 604


    Oct 21, 2006
    San Francisco, CA
    That's an opinion, not a fact. I do most of my writing on an iPad nowadays.
  16. CalBoy macrumors 604


    May 21, 2007
    I would advise against using an iPad for thesis writing for many reasons others have mentioned (the need for tactile feedback after you've typed 30,000 words, footnoting, etc), and another huge reason I haven't seen mentioned here yet: posture.

    It's fine to sit in bed for 5 minutes before dozing off to use the iPad, but you don't want to write 150 pages that way. It will eventually cause back, neck, and/or wrist pain. I'm not even sure if the iPad combined with a docking keyboard would do the trick because adjusting height would be difficult unless you had a proper desk chair to use. If you did have such a desk chair, wouldn't the functional advantages of the iPad be moot?

    I was glad to have a chair with appropriate height and a full keyboard when I typed my thesis (undergrad, 11,000+ words) because it probably saved me a lot of aches and pains.
  17. EssentialParado macrumors 65816

    Feb 17, 2005
    If you go into the settings and turn off notifications for a few hours, the iPad becomes the best distraction-free writing experience money can buy, next to a typewriter, of course.

    So long as you're using a real keyboard with the iPad for most of the writing, and only using the screen keyboard for bed-writing and casual notes, it's a great option.
  18. RedTomato macrumors 68040


    Mar 4, 2005
    .. London ..
    If you want something solely for typing on, with long battery life and a useable keyboard, why not get a netbook?

    Less than half the price, batteries that last 2 days, a proper keyboard, smaller than a laptop, lighter than a laptop, can take it out in bed, on the tube, on the bus, light enough to carry everywhere.
  19. Don Kosak macrumors 6502a

    Don Kosak

    Mar 12, 2010
    Hilo, Hawaii
    I know at least one other person doing their Thesis on an iPad.

    Typing on the glass is probably healthier for you than the way most folks type on a regular keyboard. The iPad forces you to keep your wrists off the table.

    Store your work in the cloud (, or MobileMe, or Dropbox) just in case your iPad gets broken, stolen, or lost.

    If you find you need arrow keys, etc, then you might try the Apple Bluetooth keyboard. It works really nicely with most editing programs.

    Let us know how it goes!
  20. 184550 Guest

    May 8, 2008
    Typing a thesis on an iPad would be a nightmare IMO.

    I am too accustomed to the features and comfort of typing on a 'normal' computer.
  21. Tom G. macrumors 68010

    Tom G.

    Jun 16, 2009
    Champaign/Urbana Illinois
    I type 2500 word papers all the time on my iPad, but I alternate between it and my iMac. I use the Apple Bluetooth keyboard for both.

    I type on the iPad alone mostly, but the keyboard gives a nice break and I'll admit I can go faster on it, but carrying it around adds to the load.
  22. kmaute macrumors 6502


    Oct 5, 2008
    You can have the best "writing" software in the world for $9.99 on your iPad. TeX-Touch

    Just install dropbox and MacTeX (and follow these instructions) and you are on your way. I wouldn't be afraid to do this at all... You can write when not connected but obviously need a connection to typeset your stuff. Good luck, IM if you have any questions.
  23. Tom G. macrumors 68010

    Tom G.

    Jun 16, 2009
    Champaign/Urbana Illinois
    Wow! Do those keyboards exist only in the TeX-Touch app? They are an awesome sight. Not something I need but definitely something to behold.

    Give you an idea of what the iPad can do if given the proper App.
  24. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    I've typed nasty long humanities papers on mine (with the screen, not the dock or keyboard) but for a thesis I would suggest an actual computer. You may need to do a bunch of different formatting for something and need the power of a full blown word processor.

    My word processing needs are basic so I never need anything more then the ipad when typing papers but others may.
  25. nic2991 macrumors newbie

    Jun 23, 2010
    Depends on how many windows or applications you need to have open while writing it, like if you're quoting or doing some online journal research while writing it. I had 14 windows open last week doing a relatively simple assignment, but maybe that's just me. Expose really comes in handy in this case.

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