My son is starting his first year of college (physics major). Any thoughts/recommendations of iPad Pro (11” with magic keyboard and Apple Pencil) versus MacBook (Air?)?
I think the Macbook Air would be much more useful and appropriate for now, and then maybe in year two or three once it gets “more Physics-y” you could get him an iPad Pro w/ Apple Pencil to supplement the computer for note-taking and PDF / research markup…
Thanks Zack - would you think i3 or i5 processor?
By their second or third year, students in the hard sciences and engineering disciplines will need to use computational tools that are not available on or not as well tuned for an iPad. The apps that he will need to have operating in a robust way will include a core such as spreadsheets (Excel / Numbers), document preparation (Word / Pages), and presentation (PowerPoint / Keynote). They can include broadly used science/engineering apps such as symbolic math (Mathematica, Maple) or programming (MatLab, python/JupyterLabs). Finally, they may branch to specialized apps such as LaTeX or Bookends or ImageJ or …
OTOH, the iPad has a level of portability for note-taking with a pencil that cannot in any way be met let alone surpassed by any other macOS device.
You could get him both. (Ha!)
In all seriousness, invest in an i5 MB Air now. The i3 will not cut it for computational horsepower at the higher levels. I’d actually recommend an i7 when possible (but that may not be offered in a MB Air). Eventually, get him also a (lower level) iPad without the keyboard (e.g. propose that device as something his family should share for his upcoming Christmas gift). This combination will be what my roommate from many years ago would call “golden”.
Having done a physics degree myself, definitely a MacBook. He’ll very likely need access to programming, statistical, and mathematics software that doesn’t exist on iPad (unfortunately). I personally used an iPad for taking notes, but that was a luxury rather than a requirement.
i5 should be plenty for most things. Anything more advanced can likely be done on computers at the institution.
I teach school level Physics and see that computing devices without pencil input greatly inhibit a student’s ability to write notes and, importantly, work things out visually.
So, for note-taking it has to be iPad with pencil or good old pen and paper.
For other things, access to good computer will be really beneficial. Relying on communal ones will likely prove frustrating.
I recommend MacBook and either the cheaper iPad with pencil or a nice pad of paper and a pen or three.
Consult your school’s Physics Department for recommendations. FYI the MIT Physics Department recommends Apple, Dell and Lenovo laptops, nothing else. For Apple they recommend MBAs or MBPs.
I would be wary of getting an iPad unless I were sure that there wasn’t any Mac/PC-specific software that needed to be used.
Thank you! Another reason why I love this group! It will be a MacBook Air i5. Very timely as Massachusetts has a tax holiday this Saturday - plus Apple has their college student discount/offer. Best of all worlds. If I can find a pre-owned iPad which supports pencil, that could be an option for taking notes, but for now it will be pencil and paper. Thank you again for the great feedback!
I went through this same process when I was at school. Ipads are great for there note taking ability, but at the end of the day they lack the functionality needed to really be useful in school. Later on you could always get the base ipad with a pencil as a birthday or christmas gift.
i5 Air. iPad won’t last very long (i know from experience).
Prior to the iPad, I personally enjoyed going down the rabbit hole of finding the best pens/papers/color combinations to take notes. Physics uses a lot of equations and diagrams, so a trip to pen/paper/marker aisle of Staples can be fun.
A student in my class swore by the utility of the Rocketbook line of products.
I think that was after my time (circa 2007), but you’re right there’s also a bunch of neat “smart” notebooks that can more easily migrate analog to digital.
Mac. Certain graphing programs are not available on the iPad.
And a slide rule might be in order!
Apple has refurbished iPad Pros. That might knock a little bit off the price.
I have an iPad Air 3 with a pencil and it tackles all sorts of tasks. No idea if that would fit in but it’s a fast reliable awesome machine that might be enough for note taking and other college courses in general.
Nice. Sure. Why not?
I read recently that the virus cannot survive on objects like that. No idea how true that is. I certainly don’t believe everything I read. (I’m imagining if somehow I did! Wow!)
If you don’t share your slide rule with anyone, it should be just fine once you take it out of the package (where it can’t breathe). It would likely be “safer” than all the objects in your purse, backpack, pockets. Although so many things nowadays are being manufactured in China.
Ever see those programs on PBS that talk about germs? They are everywhere and you can drive yourself half nuts worrying about them. Maybe a touch of the virus might help your immune system.
The sum total of what we as a society don’t know boggles my mind!
In fact, his school is recommending the use of Rocketbook notebooks for his Physics class…
I just got hooked on these notebooks a couple weeks ago. I’ve been a Field Notes devotee for nearly a decade, but Rocketbooks is giving them a run for their money so far. I’m not a fan of the pens, but oh boy that scan and auto send to whatever cloud designee I choose… feels like magic!
Definitely both - I love my iPad for note taking and for dealing with PDFs. It’s saved a small forest’s worth of trees over the course of my Master’s studies. However, for statistical analysis (MatLab, SPSS, R etc. etc.) and having all of your research open whilst writing you can’t beat a proper computer.