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In the market for an iPad for college note taking. Which of these deals makes the most sense?
Posted by: datbeme
Date: June 27, 2021 12:13AM
My daughter is headed off to college, and she's interested in getting an iPad/Apple Pencil to use as her primary method of taking in-class notes. That may not be for everybody, but I find the idea attractive as well. She has a perfectly functional 3 year-old Macbook Air (non-retina), so this would be in addition to that. She’s content to use that for normal computing duties until it no longer meets her needs. It would be nice to upgrade that machine to an M1, but if we can squeeze another year or two out of the existing one, all the better.

On a budget, the 8th generation iPad could certainly handle the job, but based on features, price, and being more futureproof, I’ve narrowed my choices to the 4th generation iPad Air, the 2020 11” iPad Pro and the 2021 11” M1 iPad Pro (WiFi only).

The base 4th gen Air (64GB) comes in at $649 and is eligible for the free AirPods through Apple’s EDU back to school deal. You can say the free AirPods are worth $159, but as a huge AirPods fan, I think the deal holds the most water when you value them at about $100. At that price point, I wouldn’t mind paying that much for a backup pair. So to me, the Airpods promotion is equivalent to a a $100 discount, making the 4th gen Air effectively $549.

Next, Best Buy has a special student discount through 6/27 to bring the 2020 11” iPad Pro (128GB) to $599. No AirPods, but for $50 more than the the effective price above, you get ProMotion, FaceID, twice the storage, etc. While not necessary, these things would seem to be worth the $50 premium over the 4th gen Air mentioned above.

Lastly, the new 2021 11” M1 iPad Pro is pretty competitive as well when you factor in the AirPods promotion. The 128GB is $749, but using my reasoning above, it is effectively $649. So only $50 more than the BB pricing on the old model (which ends TODAY) and only $100 more than the 64GB 4th gen Air.

Normally, I’m pretty budget conscious. I don’t want to scrimp, but I want to be realistic and not invest in unnecessary features. The two cheaper models would probably do the job just fine, and there’s a lot of rationalization going on above. The top model would be over $800 after tax. But why quibble over what is effectively $100? Any thoughts?
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Re: In the market for an iPad for college note taking. Which of these deals makes the most sense?
Posted by: bfd
Date: June 27, 2021 01:28AM
Lots of kids seem to do fine with their smartphones. Seriously. Don't ask how that works, but they make it work. Haven't really seen that many iPads of any type on campus. They exist, but surprisingly seem to be more frequently used by faculty than students. Whether that's just a local phenomenon or something larger is hard to tell.

Mac Book Airs and other small laptops are far more frequently seen in classes than iPads or tablets of any type. However, iPhones and other smartphones are everywhere. (and many of those have cracked screens - LOL) Yes, it seems logical that for digital textbooks, doing homework and research, college would seem to go much easier if all those activities were supported by a larger screen. For whatever the reasons, though, that's just not always the case.


If it was an either/or, a laptop would win hands down. Keep in mind that her currently serviceable Mac Book will be quite "old" before she graduates - even if she's fortunate to matriculate in 4 years.

Always seems a good idea to gather some data and find out what other students are using before committing to a particular device. The BTS deals will still be going strong through the first few weeks of school and particularly at campus bookstores - they'll be the same Apple deals. (though possibly not the Best Buy deal)

These two citations are not that current, but they do at least suggest that a smartphone/notebook computer conjecture may not be just a local phenomenon.

[campustechnology.com]

[www.topuniversities.com]

Good luck!
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Re: In the market for an iPad for college note taking. Which of these deals makes the most sense?
Posted by: Speedy
Date: June 27, 2021 12:41PM
Have her try out note taking on an iPad using a Pencil. Watching my wife edit/correct documents on her iPad Pro, it’s not terribly practical compared to pen and paper.



Saint Cloud, Minnesota, where the weather is wonderful even when it isn't.
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Re: In the market for an iPad for college note taking. Which of these deals makes the most sense?
Posted by: vicrock
Date: June 27, 2021 02:43PM
Also, check on what deals the college campus store are offering - sometimes they are much better pricing than "civilian" outlets.
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Re: In the market for an iPad for college note taking. Which of these deals makes the most sense?
Posted by: bfd
Date: June 27, 2021 04:48PM
Quote
Speedy
Have her try out note taking on an iPad using a Pencil. Watching my wife edit/correct documents on her iPad Pro, it’s not terribly practical compared to pen and paper.

Definitely agree, and some of what you are seeing may well be as much a part of the Learning Management System that's used - because none of the currently popular iOS app versions for LMS are really that great when it comes to "being just like paper and pencil" or even just like their computer applications.

Blackboard is possibly the worst of the popular LMS - handwritten annotations aren't easy as they would be compared to paper or even to a pdf. Canvas is only slightly better, but it's still clunky.

Text implementation/annotation is not fluid, either. Sometimes, it's faster and easier for students and instructors to just do the work on paper and then digitize or take a photo of that work. And that almost completely negates the need for any of this technology.

Ideally, using the pencil on an iPad Pro - the LMS environment would take complete advantage of the iOS' handwriting recognition capability, and while it's getting better, it doesn't always work as expected. The apps for tablet/phone devices are not exactly the same - function for function - as the computer apps. So something that might work on the computer app might not be supported in the iOS app, and vice versa.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/27/2021 04:49PM by bfd.
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Re: In the market for an iPad for college note taking. Which of these deals makes the most sense?
Posted by: datbeme
Date: June 30, 2021 10:39AM
Thanks for the replies. Many good points made. I'm certainly aware that the whole iPad note taking thing is a bit of a gamble. I've fooled around with them myself in the past and can see some of the positives and negatives. I guess I would be more hesitant if it were not useful for anything else or if she didn't already have a recent phone and an ultra-portable laptop. If it doesn't come natural or if it's impractical, all is not lost.

For formulas and more visual notes, I think it's worth a shot. This kid is amazingly driven and determined, and she doesn't ask for much, so for what is essentially a graduation gift, I'm happy to let her try.

I ruled out the Best Buy student deal above because this isn't something I want to rush. In the meantime, I'll make sure she spends some time trying it out. We still have plenty of time.
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