The age-old question: iPad or Mac?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by sahni130, Jan 5, 2012.

  1. sahni130 macrumors 6502


    Jun 25, 2008
    Atlanta, Georgia, United States
    Hello everyone,
    I haven't posted in a while...i've been consumed by my other obsessions:cars. However, I'm a Sophomore in college and I have $1000 to spend.

    I know there's other threads on this, and after reading them, I've narrowed my choices down to the following.

    1. iPad 2- I'm unsure if i should go for the 3G option or not. (I have an iPhone)
    2. Refurbished MacBook air from the Apple store.

    Here's my background: I have an iMac at home for "power" use and to store all my media.
    I've decided against the Pro because that's what I had until I dropped it. I never liked carrying it around in the first place.

    I'm an Economics major and I do have to write papers and take notes frequently but I figured I can do that all on my iMac. Basically, I'm looking for a lightweight, portable Internet machine on which i can take occasional notes, etc etc.

    I've always wanted an iPad anyways and I figured it'd be a good option....but if I'm spending $600+....then i might as well get a "laptop" (Air)?

    Excuse my grammar and please don't flame. Just help me make out my mind. :)

  2. Spink10, Jan 5, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2012

    Spink10 Suspended


    Nov 3, 2011
    How much note taking would you do with your iPad/Air?
    Would you be writing papers on your iPad/Air?
    Would you work on your studies away from your room?

    If you can only have one - i think the iPad is more a toy than a resource for a college student needing it for notes/papers.

    Just my opinion.

    May also want to consider Amazon Warehouse - no tax for most States - (your decision if you claim it on your taxes) Mostly open box items - the will move the purchase date so you get 1 year warranty. Here is a thread about the Amazon Warehouse Deals -

    $817 for the low end MBA - then find a iPad 1 on CL depending on what area you are located - Seen some sell for 2xx
  3. Macman45 macrumors G5


    Jul 29, 2011
    Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
    I think you'd be better off with the refurb. Option. If you are only going for one. You have a phone, so the iPad really isn't the ideal tool for the job. I have a 13" MBA and its great, SSD makes it fast too.

    Just my 10c worth.
  4. sahni130 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jun 25, 2008
    Atlanta, Georgia, United States
    I actually don't take many digital notes--I prefer pen and paper. So very, very, very rarely.

    I do write at least a couple papers every week but I found the screen too small on my MBP so I always ended up writing papers on my iMac.

    So like I said, i just need something for internet and photos on the go.

    I know there's some good note-taking apps and iWork for the iPad but my question is... are these actually 'useful' or are they more on the gimmick side?


    hmmm...i think you make a good point i am in fact, leaning towards the Air..I think it's a good compromise, no?
  5. Spink10 Suspended


    Nov 3, 2011
    I mainly use Keynote on iPad for presentation and minor editing if I see a mistake - I use Pages very limited on my iPad.

    What do you mean by photos on the go?
  6. sahni130 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jun 25, 2008
    Atlanta, Georgia, United States
    I have a large photo collection and I like having it with me all the time, and my iPhone is too small for my friends and I to view photos.

    So if I get either device, I'm only going to put some music, and all of my photos on there. Really all I need is about 32Gb so either an iPad or MBA would work.

    I know it sounds crazy, but lugging a 5 pound computer gets annoying... or maybe I'm just crazy. haha
  7. Spink10 Suspended


    Nov 3, 2011
    MBA gives you freedom to go many different places and still work on your studies. I love the freedom a laptop brings to studies.
  8. sahni130 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jun 25, 2008
    Atlanta, Georgia, United States
    You just convinced me. Thanks! :D
  9. Spink10 Suspended


    Nov 3, 2011
    Buy an Air - hunt CL for cheap iPad 1 - or find a friend/relative that is upgrading their iPad so you know the condition of the unit :)
  10. sigamy macrumors 65816

    Mar 7, 2003
    NJ USA
    Seems like you have made your decision but...

    I'm on the other side of this. Personally, I don't see a need for one person to have two "full" computers. There are sync issues, multiple backups, not to mention the additional cost.

    I guess the MBA is less than a full computer being that it's CPU will be a bit limited over the iMac. But, do you think you could do all your work on the Air with a large screen? Would the Air have enough processing power for you?

    If so, sell the iMac and get MBA and nice monitor. Best of both words.
  11. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    MBA is a lot better for note-taking. Touch screen is poor for typing and iPad+KB combo is more hassle than MBA. I have MBA and a desktop PC (used to have an iMac) and I haven't found any serious syncing issues. I sync documents with Dropbox, music I carry in my iPhone, videos and other bigger files I transfer with an external HD. I can't see how an iPad would be much simpler.
  12. EthanMiller macrumors member

    Aug 15, 2011
    I hate to post a third option, but as a college student myself, I think it's pertinent. You've already got an iMac, and you've got $1000.

    I recommend putting it toward tuition. After interest on loans, that $1000 now saves you in the long term.

    Granted, if you have the monetary situation all figured out, I'd go with an iPad in your case. It's a toy, yes, but if you aren't planning to use the computer for "real work" anyways, it's a much more convenient device. I also recommend getting the 3G version, even if you don't plan to use it - it's just that much more future proof.
  13. george-brooks macrumors 6502a


    Oct 31, 2011
    Brooklyn, NY
    I am also a sophomore in college. Last year I had an iPad that I got for graduation and never used it. So I sold it, and this year bought a MacBook air. I use it ALL the time. If you are going to be using it mostly for internet and word processing, it is a much better machine for that. You won't have access to all the other sweet iPad apps, of course, but I find that 99% of the time I don't miss them and I am extremely happy that I decided to go with the MB Air
  14. A Hebrew macrumors 6502a

    A Hebrew

    Jan 7, 2012
    My High School made the terrible decision of getting iPad's for our education, every kid gets one iPad to check out for the whole school year. I have used both a MacBook Pro and iPad. I HATE the iPad. It is annoying to take notes, the apps are not a very large variety. It CRASHES a lot. On the other side, I LOVE the MBP. If the MPA is ANYTHING close to the MBA, you should definitely get the AIR. If you have to, get a PC laptop over an iPad. You can get a laptop cheaper than the iPad and it is going to be much more useful.
  15. DrakkenWar macrumors 6502


    Nov 7, 2010
    San Antonio,Texas
    I would agree. Put the money towards school

    As a finishing senior majoring in Nursing, I replaced my aging G4Ti with an Acer Iconia A500 tablet. It is a great machine for what it is. But turned out to be a bummer for my needs. Unlike you I can type faster than I can write, along with years of templates in pages it's more efficient for me to carry a laptop. So it is time for me to unload the tablet. :(

    Being that you keep most of your notes on paper, you can cloud pretty much anything you want as far as pics and what not on the fly to view from your phone. Continue to use the iMac as your main. You really don't want to carry much else. Tablets are great for a supplement to most users. After owning a 1st gen iPad, the Acer and a Vpad7 I can attest to that.

    Just my pence in the pot

  16. usernam3 macrumors newbie

    Jan 2, 2012

    I recommended a (refurb) mac book air to a freind.

    She is an "on the go" type, had a laptop, and had ipad but had got rid rid it.

    She got the smallest air and told me how much she loves it, saying "it changed my life".

  17. Crazy Badger macrumors 65816

    Crazy Badger

    Apr 1, 2008
    Even with a decent keyboard/case the iPad is no replacement for even a basic laptop, and certainly not a MBA.
  18. benadd macrumors newbie

    Mar 24, 2007
    iPad all the way!

    I would definitely recommend you choose the iPad over the Mac.

    I was in an identical situation to you - I'm a medical student with an iMac and I felt that I needed something to bridge the gap between home and university. I wanted something portable that I could take notes on. Ultimately I chose the iPad because it was a significantly cheaper than a MacBook Air, but since using it I have found countless ways it trumps the iPad for what I'm using it for...

    • It is incredibly convenient - the size of it means I can pretty much wander around with it in my hand, and the time it takes to open the cover and bring up a document is close to about 10 seconds. The battery life is awesome too!
    • Keynote is brilliant - all my lectures are PowerPoints and it is so easy to open them on the iPad and edit them whilst listening to the lecture. Dead easy to edit and type, even cooler is if you use your bluetooth keyboard from your iMac with your iPad!
    • Every so often, another useful app comes out that makes my life just that bit easier - such as Notability, which records audio as you take notes, linking each paragraph to the audio that was recorded at time of writing! It's like having one of those 'livescribe' pens!
    • Finally, since iCloud came out, I have found it to be absolutely invaluable. My calendar and reminders on my iMac are now perfectly in sync with my iPad, and I have found that I haven't missed an appointment since :p

    Get the iPad - you won't regret it. It's a book/dictaphone/diary/desktop office/gaming machine, which has never let me down.
  19. LostSoul80 macrumors 68020


    Jan 25, 2009
    You are asking whether to buy a real computer or a gadget.

    The answer is pretty obvious to me...
  20. kazmac macrumors 603


    Mar 24, 2010
    On the silver scream

    I agree completely with Macman45.

    I went this route iPad to MBA and while I am returning the MBA because I am NOT using it to the extent I thought I would, I still think it's a better option for students especially if you have an iPhone and need to take a lot of notes.
  21. sahni130 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jun 25, 2008
    Atlanta, Georgia, United States
    Alright guys, here's an update!
    I thought i would wait until this semester started and i could see if I really needed flash or if i would be doing a lot of typing. Turns out, yes, I am. So therefore, i went with a refurbished 11 inch Air for $849 from Apple and I paid off a credit card with the leftover $150.
    I live in georgia so my tuition is free! :D
    And my books and some other expenses are covered by scholarships!

    The Air will be delivered tomorrow and I'm anxious to see how cool it is.

    My question is, 2Gb should be enough right?
  22. kokako macrumors regular

    Feb 23, 2011
    2gb plenty, you can always get externals, good decision over the iPad which is awesome too. I've recently sold my mid 2010 17" i7 core (dual not quad) 8gb rammed macbook pro and my new i5'd 11" macbook air seems just as fast and editing on Final Cut Pro X it's way faster, it's totally portable and I have a 27" LED cinema display at work to plug it at work and the newer thunderbolt 27" display at home so great combo.
  23. roratus macrumors member


    Sep 27, 2010
    NAZI Occupied Florida
    Probably too late

    I'd go with the iPad, I'm in a similar situation and I love my iPad. The MBA is great but the battery life on the iPad is much better and I have never had any need for the extra size or physical keyboard.
  24. BigDukeSix macrumors 6502a


    Sep 22, 2010
    34.6700N 118.1590W
    Hope you come back and give us a report on how you like your new MBA.
  25. Nlynn527 macrumors regular

    Jan 5, 2012
    I am in a similar situation to the OP, maybe you all can give me some insight as well. I'm a premed student and I have an iMac that I use when back in my dorm. I also just received and iPad 2 for Christmas, so I can't really sell it, I wouldn't feel right. I do use it to watch Netflix and other things like that.. My question is whether or not to buy a MacBook air to use in addition to the iMac and iPad. I need something portable to carry back and forth. I have about $900-$1000 to spend. Is it necessary or can I make due with the iPad? Any thoughts?

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