Using an iPad2 for graduate school?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Ruffian829, Aug 22, 2011.

  1. Ruffian829 macrumors 6502

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    #1
    I've searched a bit about this but I haven't found something similar to my situation.

    I have a macbook, but right now my husband and I are sharing it. He was going to buy a cheap netbook (and I wanted an e-reader) but then started thinking that instead of both we may just get an iPad2, but I need to know if it would be a feasible situation- to use the iPad as essentially a second computer for me, although the MacBook will still be available for the "heavy lifting"- so any experience w/ the iPad would be greatly appreciated...

    Of course, I'll be buying the external keyboard. Plus, I know that the iPad will cover all my basic home or fun "computer" needs, as when I'm home from school I hardly ever even take out my macbook, I just use my iphone.

    If that is what we decide to spend the money on it means that I'll basically get my macbook and I'll take the iPad2 to classes with me (law school). I take all notes on my laptop, write papers, edit papers, do research, check email. I'll still have my MacBook available to write major papers, and to do any editing, but I need to know if the iPad would be practicable for the every-day school things like taking notes, basic research, downloading and saving documents, etc. Plus, if it is possible to write papers and do research via the iPad thats even better.

    I use Circus Ponies Notebook now to take notes and they have an iPad app as well, so it seems like that would be fine to take notes.

    If I receive documents via email, would I be able to open word based docs in the "Pages" app? Will the formatting hold through? Can I do things like insert footnotes?

    I'm slightly concerned about the lack of multi-tasking but I also wonder if that'll keep me more focused during classes... also do apps like safari work like they do on the iPhone? where switching "pages" requires zooming out and flipping through the sites that are opened or are there tabs like the normal safari? Are websites automatically "mobile" version like the iphone or the full site?

    Any insight / advise would be great... (alternatively, we buy a windows based netbook and an e-reader)

    Thanks
     
  2. njsa04playa macrumors 6502

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    #2
    it seems like your needs are a little too much for the ipad, and you do not want to be limited, you can get a netbook but another alternative is a 500 dollar nice hp pavilion from bestbuy or some other online dealer. But if size is an issue then the netbook might be the way to go.
     
  3. palpatine macrumors 68040

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    #3
    i am a graduate student / researcher / lecturer using the iPad for most of my work. this is all that i bring to campus most days. my mbp does the heavy lifting at home for the stuff my iPad cannot do.

    njsa is right that the iPad isn't a good fit to your current workflow. but, i think a few adjustments (if you are willing to make them) will make it possible. the benefits are: 1/2 the price of an mba 11", twice the battery life, about the same weight (with accessories), and a fabulous ereader.

    1. can you do it?
    yes. in my case, i use the iPad + iPod + bluetooth keyboard to get stuff done. i have digitized everything, so if i am reading something, i use the iPad and take notes on the iPod (synced with bluetooth keyboard). if i am writing, revising, or proofreading my work (you can get quite far without a computer) i use the iPad. pages cannot handle word documents (as far as i can tell), but you can read word documents in programs like goodreader. i believe there are apps to edit word documents, but frankly, i am totally uninterested in using word on the ipad. simple is the way to go. stay away from formatting until the final stages.

    2. what will you lose by using the ipad?
    footnotes are impossible (as far as i know). and, i think circus ponies won't quite cut it. i don't use it, so i don't know what i am talking about, but it seems to me (in my workflow) you need to sync across every device when using the iPad, and the only program so far i have found to do this is evernote.

    for example, let's say you are on campus and remember you wanted to print something out for someone (a student, instructor, or administrator). just login to your evernote account and do it. taking notes on the iPad? no problem. it will sync. taking notes on the iPod? no problem. it will sync. i am experimenting with a scrivener / simplenote combination right now, because i want to have more hierarchical organization to my work. but, i am undecided. i may stick with evernote.

    3. mobile sites?
    depends on the site. i haven't found it to be an issue.

    4. multitasking
    it fakes it really well, but it is definitely not multitasking, and it can occasionally be frustrating. however, all told, it isn't a deal breaker. in fact, it keeps me more focused.

    *for more, click on my name, look under statistics, and check out the threads i have started. i have written a bunch about how to use the ipad in academia. good luck!
     
  4. njsa04playa macrumors 6502

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    #4
    Listen to this guy! if you are open minded to changes definitely go this way, but if you want to keep your current workflow or just dont have time to digitize everything then windows might be the way to go!


    Props to palpatine for all of the information he has spread about these forums! :D
     
  5. r0k macrumors 68040

    r0k

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    #5
    I can also chime in favor of iPad for grad school. It was not my only machine, but it was the only machine I took to class. It is possible to use your Mac remotely via Teamviewer or a number of VNC programs. I prefer iTap VNC.

    Starting with OS X Lion, Apple now supports more than one user logged in and more than one desktop being displayed. This means you can log in using a VNC client and see something different than the person sitting at the machine. You could be getting "real work" done via your iPad to your shared Macbook without disturbing the person who is sitting there using it.

    The last time I switched on my Acer Aspire One netbook was the night of April 2, 2010, the evening before I got my iPad.
     
  6. Ruffian829 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #6
    Thanks everyone! I just wanted to clarify: I'll still have my MacBook but I wouldnt be taking it to school 90% of the time (although it's there if I need it). I am def open to doing things "differently" and I don't really need to sync with my MacBook (I don't think) because I'll be looking to primarily keep everything on my iPad.

    Just curious- why the need to digitize everything? Would I have more of a need vs when I used my MacBook?

    Also- I'm wondering if Ill end up finding the iPad+ iPhone to be redundant (I've been reading too many "lost the magic" threads maybe). I'm assuming no as the iPad would need to be my main school device / second home computer (using "computer" loosely as we now use one MacBook and iPhones just fine). But I am worried about it being too much like a big phone... Which may come down to it's e-reading capability...? Am I going to end up wanting to get a separate e-reader?? my initial thought was wanting an e-reader and it evolved into an iPad but how well does the iPad fare as an e-reader?

    (oh and the windows netbook would be for my husband- windows drives me nuts- I'd primarily continue to use my MacBook and get a Nook)
     
  7. r0k macrumors 68040

    r0k

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    #7
    I bought an iPad on day one. My iPad usage fell off a lot when I got my iPhone 4. I wouldn't carry the iPad with me as often. But even the retina display is too darn small for extended use and I prefer my iPad when it's within reach.

    E-reading? Get the Kindle app on your iPad and you are good to go. I've considered a separate e-reader since Kindle is so inexpensive but I really don't "need" a separate e-reader. One word of caution. Ipad works terribly as an ereader in direct sunlight. Direct sunlight isn't something we have to concern ourselves with much in Michigan so I'm doing fine. :D

    Netbook for hubby? Get him an 11 in Macbook Air. You'll both be happier.
     
  8. Ruffian829 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #8
    Haha hubby would love a MBA but it's out of the budget. Best we can do at the moment is
    MacBook + e-reader + netbook
    Or
    MacBook + iPad
     
  9. palpatine macrumors 68040

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    #9
    why digitize?
    free yourself from lugging around books, storing them on bookcases in your home, packing them in boxes when you move, and best of all: carry your entire personal library with you 24/7. where's that memo about X, that quote about Y, or that information about Z? in your ipad, of course :)

    do not keep everything in your ipad.
    please consider using cloud based data backup and / or plugging in your ipad to your computer every day to back it up. you should never store everything in one device/location. that is just asking for a nightmare scenario...

    njsa is too kind :)
    if you like the idea of being free to read or work anywhere you want, anytime, then maybe some of my methods will give you some ideas. otherwise, what i say is rubbish. i just find that going digital has greatly improved the quality of daily life. i can't adequately relate the joy of not being tied to a library or desk.

    do you need the iphone?
    maybe. see what i wrote about the ipad/iphone/keyboard combo.
     
  10. Young Spade macrumors 68020

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    #10
    Mmmm

    1) If reading is that important (books or whatever), get an eReader. The iPad uses a LCD, it shines light into your eyes. This is fine for day to day computer use, but have you ever tried reading long blocks of text (a whole book) on a computer screen? it sucks. And your eyes will get tired after a while.

    That's why eReaders still sell. Like mad. Because reading on the iPad sucks. It's great to read articles, browse the web, etc., I have no problem with that, however, if you're reading extended documents you are going to hate it after a week or two.

    2) You're doing graduate level work. Not undergrad intro classes, and not bs crap. The iPad is a great device, but I think that you're going to be limited at some point at what you can do on it. You'd need to get the keyboard stand if you want to do actual typing; it is great at doing that, but don't expect to download documents and be able to edit the actual "files" with ease.

    You can download and edit the text, but unless they have some new file tree format, you won't be able to sort and edit the actual "files" themselves. No folders to organize, so having a large amount of documents is going to be troublesome.

    3) In closing (and feel free to ask questions as I had one last year (college student)), I think that the iPad is a great device, however, it is pretty limited at what it can do, although what it CAN do, it does well.

    You have to work at it, but I don't want you to drop 600 on the thing (that's the price after necessary applications and the keyboard dock) and then put yourself in a situation when you're at school and need to do that "one" thing (and trust me, there are more than just one) that you cannot due because the iPad doens't allow it.

    It's great as an add-on but it's risky to use as a sole device. (You stated you'd leave the laptop home; if you brought it with the iPad every day, that's a different story).

    Sorry if this is too long, but it's a pretty important purchase for you (t seems that way) and you should definitely read more topics about things people DON"T like. That's what you should do anyway; if you look closely, people who rave don't really say anything helpful while the bad reviews give you great information, stuff the ravers look over or don't care about.

    A netbook can do "anything" you're going to throw at it and a good one will give you at least 6 hours of battery life at that.
     
  11. njsa04playa macrumors 6502

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    #11
    i agree with this, everyone hates on netbooks when there are dual core ones available with full size keyboards that get about 10 hours of battery life
     
  12. Ruffian829 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #12
    Thank you for your (honest!) reply, and for realizing it is an important decision, as if it doesn't "work" then we're kind of screwed, w/o the free cash to buy something else... and I'm afraid even with certain return policies, I wont figure out that it won't work until it's too late.

    That being said, I've seen two people using iPads for class so far. one guy I actually got to talk to before class and he said he used it all last semester as well and for him it works out great (leaves his macbook at home). Since I have no paper courses this semester (but 5 exams, shoot me) I think it'll be fine. My research will be very limited, and there are always school computers and I have access to the Journal's (that I am a part of) computer.

    My husband and I decided that what we really need is for me to be able to leave my macbook at home with him for 80% of the time. Generally speaking, for this semester, that is going to be fine I believe.

    From my understanding, the Circus Ponies Notebook app will allow me to add PDF's and files to the notebooks as it does in the desktop version. That way I'll be able to keep everything from each class in an individual "folder" like notebook. Plus it allows for annotation

    I'm actually excited about the prospect of reading PDF's via the iPad because at the moment I generally read from my phone because I hate taking out my macbook between classes (especially if I have less than 1/2 an hour or so) to read something for class...

    So... my lingering concerns are a) next semester, where I'll likely have at least one paper class or so

    and

    the capabilities of Circus Ponies Notebook (which has mixed reviews so far) to do what I need. Its an expensive app, it would suck to buy it and have it not work out...

    I'll do what you say and read some negative reviews as well

    (and I'm not hating on netbooks, just my husband will get stuck with it and I'll keep my precious MacBook :D)
     
  13. Young Spade macrumors 68020

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    #13
    Glad I could help; but yea, if you're thinking about getting an application like the one from Circus Ponies, I want to say that's a great one, however, as a student, I did some light research on it but I haven't found a definite "best" yet either.

    But I would think the most important features that the application needs to do right are
    1) Integration with the Macbook (so you can get your information off of the iPad if you need to)

    2) Tabs (like you stated) so you can stay as organized as possible and separate work depending on the class or whatever means of separation you are trying to achieve.

    3) Being able to edit any and all files you put on the iPad; annotating is probably going to be the most important along with document composition (if you aren't creating them in another program).
     
  14. agwilson macrumors newbie

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    #14
    Ruffian,

    I completed law school a little over a year ago. You can probably get by with an iPad for in class notes. It depends on how you format your notes for each class. A lot of your learning will be done in reading before class and you will want quick access to those notes in case you are called on. I found taking notes in by hand and then typing them each Friday or Saturday was a great way to force myself to review the material at least once a week. It can be very easy to zone out during class. It helps to have to focus because the teacher is giving you hints as to what will be on the final and this can help you focus your studying.

    As for reading on the iPad you will need to check if the books are available in digital format. My guess is they aren't considering how slow moving the law profession can be. Books are great because you can highlight the different parts of cases and right notes inside them for quick reference. Another consideration is that you will need the book for each class. You can almost never go without the book or at least a copy of each case that you were supposed to read.

    You will have a legal research and writing class your first year that will cover "legal writing" and introduce you to book research and online research. The papers usually don't have footnotes (depends on school), but will have some special indenting and have use of underling and italics. You can probably do them in any half way decent text editor. The special pleading paper you probably won't have to use unless you take a special class on court filings. Pleading paper is generally in WordPerfect format and some have been moved to Word. As for the research aspect the two main online legal search resources are Westlaw and LexisNexis and I recall hearing they had trouble with the iPad browser. They should work fine with Safari or Google Chrome on the laptop though.

    Studying for finals students tend to use outlines. I usually built my outline from my notes and a couple of other outlines I received from students. These vary from 15-60 pages depending on how in depth you want to get. How you learn can change what you use and how, but you want to think about how you remember stuff and can you build a workflow for it. I found flashcards were great and there are a couple of good flashcard apps for the iPad.

    You might check out Macs in Law Offices Google Group. It has a great list serve with lots of information and a bunch of helpful people. There are also a smattering of online bloggers that discuss lawyers using macs that you might find interesting.
     
  15. njsa04playa macrumors 6502

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    #15
    this google group is quite interesting, what exactly is it?
     
  16. Ruffian829, Aug 25, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2011

    Ruffian829 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #16
    Thanks Agwilson,
    I'm actually a 3L (third year law student), I graduate this May, so I have a good idea of what I NEED for classes I was just curious to see if I could make the iPad work. All my papers always have been cited in Blue Book form which requires footnotes. I'm also a senior editor on Law Review and all law review articles (or any other journals that I am aware of) are cited with footnotes or endnotes. But I figure I can do that editing at home or on one of the Journal's available desktops.

    As long as I can take good bullet point lecture notes I think I'll be fine. Call me crazy but I was never one to take separate notes on the readings.

    As far as e-books I wasn't looking for text books- like you said it's doubtful there are any or very few available plus it wouldnt be beneficial in any classes that are open book or whatnot. I was more interested in general pleasure reading (assuming I could ever find the time!).
     
  17. agwilson macrumors newbie

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    #17
    Ah thanks for the clarification on where you were. You have a good idea of your use case. I haven't seen any apps that would handle the level of formatting that Law Review requires. But, as you said that can be done on one of their computers.

    For the notes you might check out OmniOutliner. I've heard good things about it and there is a version for both the iPad and OS X. It is kind of expensive but it excels at outlines and from what I understand it's fairly robust in having features for quick typing and adding items. OmniGroup the developer really does think about how to write their iOS apps and has done a great job. The OS X version I think has a free trial on their website so you can check that out.

    I have an iPad and a Kindle and find I use each for different types of reading. I prefer fiction type reading on my Kindle. It is a bit lighter and easier on the eyes. The iPad really excels when looking at technical documents and documents with pictures. If you feel a lot of eye strain from reading off LCD screens then I would look for an e-ink device, but if you can read for hours on LCDs then an iPad would suit most if not all of your needs and you will enjoy it a lot.
     
  18. njsa04playa macrumors 6502

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    #18
    this bottom part is true for me for the most part
     
  19. Ruffian829 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #19
    I think I'll end up getting both, hopefully snag an ereader on a good sale closer to Xmas. I have a 6 month old so I'm excited about having kids books on the iPad.
     
  20. palpatine macrumors 68040

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    #20
    kids + ipads are pretty incredible, by the way. i was just playing with some kids the other day (2 and 5) and they were enthralled by it. they also picked up things really quickly, and i could easily seeing the ipad work as a great learning / play device.
     

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