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Old 06-07-2012, 12:05 PM   #1
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iPad, iPhone, Mac for college?

My niece asked what devices she should take to her first year of college. She was thinking of buying iMac and iPad. She already has a new iPhone. What do college students use these days?

So far I thought of:

0. Paper and pen. (Personal preference: I gotta have doodling when bored….)
1. Cell phone to record audio. (Possibly convert to text later? How good is the conversion?)
2. Tablet to record audio. (Possibly convert to text later? How good is the conversion?)
3. Tablet to jot handwriting. (Possible convert to text later, though from what I've seen those conversions aren't very good.)
4. Laptap to type notes while in class and do work in dorm. I'm partial to MacBookPro.

Off the top of my head I recommended #4, supplemented where necessary by #1 and #0. That seemed the KISSiest to old-fashioned me. I sure wouldn't want to write a thesis on an iPad.
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Old 06-07-2012, 12:38 PM   #2
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I sure wouldn't want to write a thesis on an iPad.
An iPad with an external Bluetooth keyboard is a perfectly acceptable thesis-writing device. But I do agree that a laptop would be better.
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Old 06-07-2012, 01:22 PM   #3
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Wouldn't want to be without any of them, personally, and while I agree with HarryT re. the iPad and Bluetooth keyboard, my daughter's just finished her first year of University and here in the UK at least, the preference is overwhelmingly for laptops.

If your niece already has an iPhone and feels the need for a super-lightweight option for note-taking, then a folding bluetooth keyboard pairs very nicely with an iPhone.

HTH Pete
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Old 06-07-2012, 01:26 PM   #4
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and here in the UK at least, the preference is overwhelmingly for laptops.
WINDOWS laptops, that is. I've never seen a student with a Mac. I'm sure there must be some, but I think it would perhaps be a mistake not to have a Windows laptop for compatibility reasons. Most university IT departments will only be able to support Windows systems.
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Old 06-07-2012, 02:52 PM   #5
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An iPad with an external Bluetooth keyboard is a perfectly acceptable thesis-writing device. But I do agree that a laptop would be better.
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Wouldn't want to be without any of them, personally, and while I agree with HarryT re. the iPad and Bluetooth keyboard, my daughter's just finished her first year of University and here in the UK at least, the preference is overwhelmingly for laptops.

If your niece already has an iPhone and feels the need for a super-lightweight option for note-taking, then a folding bluetooth keyboard pairs very nicely with an iPhone.

HTH Pete
I have a Zagg Bluetooth keyboard for my iPad. Haven't tried it with iPhone, though I suppose I could if I wanted to. I find the Zagg keyboard more cramped than a normal laptop keyboard. Maybe there are larger bluetooth keyboards, but I'd still rather use a laptop instead, particularly when it'd be nice to have several apps or windows open at once. (EDIT: Laptop has bigger screen than tablet or phone.)

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WINDOWS laptops, that is. I've never seen a student with a Mac. I'm sure there must be some, but I think it would perhaps be a mistake not to have a Windows laptop for compatibility reasons. Most university IT departments will only be able to support Windows systems.
Her college says PC or Mac doesn't matter, they support both.

Last edited by unboggling; 06-07-2012 at 02:57 PM.
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Old 06-07-2012, 04:01 PM   #6
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WINDOWS laptops, that is. I've never seen a student with a Mac...
OK, so it's an anecdotal sample of one, buuuuut my daughter has a MacBook,and so do several of her friends at Uni <shrug> And of course, all Intel MacBooks can run Windows if you really have to...
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Old 06-07-2012, 04:07 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unboggling View Post
My niece asked what devices she should take to her first year of college. She was thinking of buying iMac and iPad. She already has a new iPhone...

...Off the top of my head I recommended #4, supplemented where necessary by #1 and #0. That seemed the KISSiest to old-fashioned me. I sure wouldn't want to write a thesis on an iPad.
I'd say your recommendation is spot on, skip the iMac and go for a MacBook Pro (or other laptop) as the top priority. If she's got the budget for an iPad great, but I would put it second on the list for sure (even with a bluetooth kbd).
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Old 06-07-2012, 04:44 PM   #8
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I'd say your recommendation is spot on, skip the iMac and go for a MacBook Pro (or other laptop) as the top priority. If she's got the budget for an iPad great, but I would put it second on the list for sure (even with a bluetooth kbd).
To the laptop option I'd also add an external harddrive, for automatic backups, in case the laptop gets stolen or trashed.

Regarding iPad, I've found I usually prefer using the laptop instead. Probably because I don't commute or travel much anymore and never got in the habit of using the tablet for things like web surfing or email. But I didn't grow up with cell-phones and tablets, texting and twitter, etc. I didn't read textbooks on a tablet in high school or university. An iPad would also still need a computer anyway to back-up important files.

But if I were a student and wanted to read textbooks in the cafeteria or student lounge or on campus on a sunny day, I'd rather use a tablet such as iPad than a laptop. So a tablet would be, as you said, a convenience but not as necessary as a computer. I'm not sure iPad would be the best tablet for reading textbooks though.
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Old 06-07-2012, 04:58 PM   #9
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WINDOWS laptops, that is. I've never seen a student with a Mac. I'm sure there must be some, but I think it would perhaps be a mistake not to have a Windows laptop for compatibility reasons. Most university IT departments will only be able to support Windows systems.
Here at Copenhagen University Mac to PC is 50/50.

I would highly recommend a 13" Macbook Air for studies. It is light which is a BIG plus as a student (believe me!), much better to write on than an iPad, and for any fast figure drawing she can use paper, and then later the Macbook. No need at all for a Mabook Pro, and unless you upgrade a MBP to an SSD, then the MBA would be faster in most cases anyway, for her uses.

A tablet or color-fancy-future-ebook in the future when she really starts reading scientific material, if needed. (Couch reading )

Last edited by David Munch; 06-07-2012 at 05:04 PM.
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Old 06-07-2012, 06:48 PM   #10
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I second the MacBook Air recommendation. She can use her iPhone for many of the things she'd use an iPad for and if she has to write papers or crunch numbers a laptop is better suited than an iPad.
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Old 06-07-2012, 09:20 PM   #11
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MacBook Air, huh. Hmm.

On the Apple site, comparing 13 inch MacBook Air with 13 inch MacBook Pro is useful. I'm not convinced, but I'm old-fashioned, as well as a possibly biased MacBookPro person. I don't necessarily trust the Air's flash drive which has significantly smaller storage capacity even at upgrade to 256GB compared to 750 GB serial ATA. Extra speed of Solid State Drive in a Pro might be nice, but it's fine with just cheaper (and more storage) serial ATA drive. Air is an i5 and with superdrive (dvd/cd reader) added is $1678 at Apple Store US, while Pro with i7, superdrive, and more ports is $1499. Pro is also expandible from 4GB to to 8GB DDR3 SDRAM for extra $200, while the Air currently is limited to 4GB DDR3 SDRAM.

For outdoor use or carting around a lot, the Pro seems more rugged and sturdy.

How important is the weight difference of 0.69 kg, against some of the advantages of the Pro vs the Air?
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Old 06-07-2012, 11:15 PM   #12
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Higher screen res on the Air, and weight difference which is greater than it looks on paper. Other than that, 13" Macbook Pro would be just fine. I am typing on one right now, (though not a student) and find that for most purposes its just fine.

I second the suggestion about an external hard drive, just in case.
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Old 06-08-2012, 12:32 AM   #13
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MacBook Air, huh. Hmm.

On the Apple site, comparing 13 inch MacBook Air with 13 inch MacBook Pro is useful. I'm not convinced, but I'm old-fashioned, as well as a possibly biased MacBookPro person. I don't necessarily trust the Air's flash drive which has significantly smaller storage capacity even at upgrade to 256GB compared to 750 GB serial ATA. Extra speed of Solid State Drive in a Pro might be nice, but it's fine with just cheaper (and more storage) serial ATA drive. Air is an i5 and with superdrive (dvd/cd reader) added is $1678 at Apple Store US, while Pro with i7, superdrive, and more ports is $1499. Pro is also expandible from 4GB to to 8GB DDR3 SDRAM for extra $200, while the Air currently is limited to 4GB DDR3 SDRAM.

For outdoor use or carting around a lot, the Pro seems more rugged and sturdy.

How important is the weight difference of 0.69 kg, against some of the advantages of the Pro vs the Air?
When you are actually using a laptop on your lap, 0.69 kg matters a great deal. Not to mention lugging it with you all day long around campus rather than to and from somewhere on a commute. As mentioned, the screen is fantastic and it's super fast. I'm not sure what a student needs with 750 GB of storage, with all the Cloud storage around these days 250GB should be plenty for ordinary use, but if that's a concern then go with the Pro.
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Old 06-08-2012, 04:44 AM   #14
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MacBook Air, huh. Hmm.

On the Apple site, comparing 13 inch MacBook Air with 13 inch MacBook Pro is useful. I'm not convinced, but I'm old-fashioned, as well as a possibly biased MacBookPro person.
You are old fashioned then, yes. The Air is quite a speedy machine, and I really think you overestimate a students needs. (Especially a female one!) And as mentioned before, in most day to day work, the Air is faster due to the SSD anyway.

Quote:
I don't necessarily trust the Air's flash drive which has significantly smaller storage capacity even at upgrade to 256GB compared to 750 GB serial ATA.
Unless your niece downloads tons of movies online, then she'll have no problem with 128GB, even less with a 256GB drive..

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Extra speed of Solid State Drive in a Pro might be nice, but it's fine with just cheaper (and more storage) serial ATA drive.
Seriously don't underestimate the speed gains for day to day work, from an SSD. The differences are night and day.

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Air is an i5 and with superdrive (dvd/cd reader) added is $1678 at Apple Store US, while Pro with i7, superdrive, and more ports is $1499.
She wont need a superdrive.
Quote:
Pro is also expandible from 4GB to to 8GB DDR3 SDRAM for extra $200, while the Air currently is limited to 4GB DDR3 SDRAM.
She wont need more than 4GB. Heck, I have 3GB in my 2006 MBP work machine, which also took me through university without trouble!

Again, I really think you overestimate the needs of a student...

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For outdoor use or carting around a lot, the Pro seems more rugged and sturdy.
Not really, they are both unibodys at the same thickness.

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How important is the weight difference of 0.69 kg, against some of the advantages of the Pro vs the Air?
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When you are actually using a laptop on your lap, 0.69 kg matters a great deal. Not to mention lugging it with you all day long around campus rather than to and from somewhere on a commute.
What Synamon said.

Note that Apple is expected to update most of the Mac models this coming monday, as part of their developer conference WWDC...
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Old 06-08-2012, 04:48 AM   #15
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That's an awful lot of money to spend on a laptop. You can get a perfectly decent laptop for well under $500 these days. Spending $1000 more seems like needless extravagance.
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