Cult of Mac’s Buster Heine addresses the issue of which is better for college, an iPad or a MacBook Air?
In Heine’s estimation, for most people heading back to college or school, the MacBook Air is the best laptop on the market, but you might not even need a laptop anymore, suggesting that a fair proportion of college students could get by just fine with an iPad instead of a MacBook Air. He contends that while many people think the iPad is only well-suited for media and other content consumption, most college homework assignments can be done on an iPad, and he opines that unless you’re a Computer Science major who needs to program in C++, Visual Basic, XCode, and Java, you can probably get all your homework done on an iPad as well as check your email, write essays in Pages, create PowerPoint presentations, record videos, print documents, make music, procrastinate by playing games, listen to new music, watch movies, and Skype with your mommy – all on the iPad.
“Just make sure to buy the Apple Bluetooth Keyboard to write your essays with,” he advises, because no one wants to type a 2000 word essay on a virtual keyboard.”
Heine also points out that if you buy or rent digital textbooks, an iPad will more than pay for itself, since eTextbooks are significantly cheaper than their hard copy counterparts, with a bonus being that you’ll be lugging a lot weight around in your backpack, and considering its capabilities compared with a MacBook Air, a $499 iPad (actually, my pick would be a $399 iPad 2) is “crazy cheap” and offers all-day battery life as opposed to 2 – 4 real world hours with a base $1,000 MacBook Air.
Downsides include the iPad’s mediocre [essentially non-existent in a meaningful sense - CM] multi-tasking lnon-capabilities, although Heine suggests that there might be virtue in that limitation in a classroom or study context concentration-wise. Ans while you can print from an iPad, it’s only supported by a handful of printers that your college probably doesnt have, obliging you to upload assignments to Dropbox and print them from a PC, plus there’s no user access to the iPad’s file system so you’re back in the Cloud and still PC-dependent for file management and transfers, and on-board data storage on the iPad is constrained to mediocre.
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