iPad Pro vs MacBook Pro


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My daughter graduates from high school this week and has been accepted to college.  Our gift to her is a laptop for college.  She has told us that she wants the new iPad Pro and not the MacBook. 

I have been reading about the iPad Pro and it seems to be a good fit for college students.  We are also getting her the pencil, keyboard and printer.  I know the printer has to include the proper software to talk to the iPad.

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At no point have you described what her use cases would be which would help decide what the appropriate product would be. “College student” is not a standard unit of measurement, and everyone has a different use case.My point is, topics that do not include an actual question and yet ask for advice rarely yield useful feedback, because it’s just strangers on the internet who don’t have enough information to provide an appropriate answer, and it turns into blind guessing. 




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If its going to be used for school, I’d suggest a REAL laptop. You could get a semi high end laptop for the price (or less) of either a iPad Pro or Mac Book Pro. Performance-wise, a laptop is still a better choice than iDevices but if your daughter really want an Apple device then go for the Mac Book. 




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Not enough information here.

First, why does she want the iPad Pro? Because shiny? I don’t know your kid from Eve, but I know my daughter had to be asked some pointed questions about how she planned to use tech in school. In the end she opted for a Dell with the rotating screen. Now it’s a tablet, now it’s a laptop! No extra bits to lose… (which was her observation, not mine)If she’s using it as an electronic textbook, the iPad is probably a better choice. I know several students at MSU who saved a boatload of cash by buying an iPad and electronic versions of their books. If she’s a graphic design major, definitely go with the iPad Pro. Several professional artists I know will give up their iPad Pro and Apple Pencil when you pry it from their cold, dead fingers … and even then they’ll return to haunt you for the theft. If this is going to be a general-use, write-my-papers thing, the Macbook may be a wiser option. Productivity apps like Microsoft Office aren’t 100% the same on iOS vs OS X. If she’s going into business, the presentations she has to give will definitely work better with the laptop. Our small college uses Crestron AirMedia units all over campus, and the integration with iOS – while impressive – still lags behind the features one gets using a proper desktop OS. Also, the campus IT support may not fully support the iPad Pro for various things. Might be worth a call to verify.  




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Unless she has already used an iPad Pro for an extended period of time I’d lean toward the MacBook as well.

What if one of her classes requires a certain piece of software to be installed for instance? I’d be worried that the iPad would just be too limiting as a primary device.




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Unless she has already used an iPad Pro for an extended period of time I’d lean toward the MacBook as well.

What if one of her classes requires a certain piece of software to be installed for instance? I’d be worried that the iPad would just be too limiting as a primary device.

Good point about having to install software.  She is a Biology major and I forget her minor at the moment.  She will be getting into the medical field.  She is a very tech savvy teen.  She likes the idea of using the pencil to take notes on the iPad Pro and save paper.  She also likes the small size and ease of being able to carry it around.

That is why I posed this discussion here… I knew you guys would have some insight to help me make the best decision for her.  The thought of not having USB ports does concern me, along with proprietary software that may not work with it.




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This is the same discussion I’ve had supporting schools. iPads are primarily about consuming content; laptops (brand notwithstanding) are more useful for creating content.So, elementary or middle school – iPads may be the thing in that situation. Advanced or HS or college prep courses where students are learning spreadsheets, and writing lots of papers – we’d advise the MacBook Pro, for example.I agree that graphic design or related majors may be the right path for an iPad Pro or tablet, though. 




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She is a Biology major and I forget her minor at the moment.  She will be getting into the medical field. 




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She is a very tech savvy teen.  She likes the idea of using the pencil to take notes on the iPad Pro and save paper.  She also likes the small size and ease of being able to carry it around.




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I’d go with MacBook, just more options than the iPad. You can also install Windows, if needed. There are so many good apps out there (iscanner is one) on your iphone, just take a pic of your notes and you have a PDF, just as good. (unless your handwriting is terrible, like mine, then you’d rather type haha)




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She is a Biology major and I forget her minor at the moment.  She will be getting into the medical field. 




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I knew you guys would have some insight to help me make the best decision for her.  




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This is the same discussion I’ve had supporting schools. iPads are primarily about consuming content; laptops (brand notwithstanding) are more useful for creating content.So, elementary or middle school – iPads may be the thing in that situation. Advanced or HS or college prep courses where students are learning spreadsheets, and writing lots of papers – we’d advise the MacBook Pro, for example.I agree that graphic design or related majors may be the right path for an iPad Pro or tablet, though. 

I don’t agree that the iPad is not appropriate for content creation. This blogger, http://www.svartling.net/,  for example, went mobile device only, and hasn’t had a problem using them as full content production systems. If you look on the App Store, you will fine that there are full Office Suites from MicroSoft and several other vendors. There are full Creative Suites from Adobe, Procreate, and several other vendors. There are full DAW solutions from AuriaLabs, Steinberg, Korg, IK Multimedia, and several other vendors. The list goes on. And I didn’t include the apps from Apple themselves.

If you want to create something, there is probably an app that can help you create. Apple mobile devices are not just about consumption, they are only perceived that way.

I haven’t looked on the Play Store for Android devices, but I’ll be willing to bet that the same is true for that platform as well.




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I know you are looking at Apple devices but have you or she considered the Surface Pro? 

You get the same form factor can run all kinds of windows programs and comes with a pen. Microsoft is also adding a bunch of pen friendly additions to windows 10 in the anniversary update.




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Neither. Spend half the money and get a Windows OS laptop unless they truly have a compelling need for that piece of hardware.




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An iPad isn’t a computer. it’s a tablet. Get her a 13″ macbook and she’ll be fine.




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Have you looked at the crime statistics for that area?  If they are high, I’d be giving her something cheap and easily replaceable! 🙂  




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Don’t get ANYTHING in which the HDD/SSD cannot be upgraded/replaced. One thing I have found with students is that they fill up drives rapidly.

As a recent college graduate I would recommend a real a laptop, by which I mean a Windows based machine. I am unsure of her major or any information, however, unless shes doing graphic design or music production, I’d stick with a run of the mill Windows laptop. For the price of a MacBook, you can get a high end laptop and even 2-in-1 with tablet like abilities. Granted, I was in school for CIS, but even in my general education courses, people with Macs had nothing but issues when it came to the software and browser application we used. It is possible that much has changed in the last year or so, but it does not seem like a risk I would take.  Also as a student, she can get many major discounts to Windows products and other vendors. Apple probably offers something similar but I do not know their comparison. Just my two cents from someone who was in her situation. 

Look at laptops that have a pen or one that pens can be added to.

http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops/thinkpad/11e-series/11e-yoga-3rd-gen/?sb=:00000025:00003D78:




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Regarding the taking-notes bit, I’ll shatter that bit of youthful idealism with these points:

iPads crash.  Computers crash.  Macs DO fail (hence, why Apple even has repair certification paths; if they never failed, why repair them? #rhetoricalquestion).  Digital content that isn’t backed up will be lost permanently or rendered unusable in run-of-the-mill situations.

For speed & efficiency, typing and pen-to-paper still beat digital note-taking (regardless of how the mobile-device industry continues to try to sell it).  And diagrams are not as easy to manage on keyboard- or mouse-driven devices.

A classmate can ask this, and the choices will be either “no,” or “yes, here’s my single device that I need for everything, but you can use it for …. oh dear, now I need to do some work on it….”  instead of simply tearing out the relevant pages and continuing to do work.

Unfortunately, while the desire to be environmentally conscientious is laudable, “saving paper” is — to me — insufficient justification for a tablet in order to avoid carrying a physical notebook.

Computers were too expensive for me when I started college. With the way I use OneNote now, I can only imagine how useful that would have been for me back then.

Personally, I would suspect a regular laptop or 2-in-1 will come in handy for the flexibility.

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