URGENT: Macbook Pro 13" or iPad Pro 12.9" for college?

User avatar
Ace
§

11 Aug 2017, 02:30

Hey there! It's been a while since I've been active on here, but I somehow felt that this would be a good place to ask such a question, considering the amount of veteran computer users on this site. Now, before I really get into the details, I need to mention a few things. First of all, I wrote "urgent" in the title because my semester starts at the end of August, and I'd like to get the device a little in advance so that I can learn to use it (somewhat) NOW instead of messing around during the first few weeks. Second, I actually already decided on and bought the Macbook a few weeks ago. I own it right now, but I'd never considered the iPad until after the fact. Thirdly, this is going to be my FIRST EVER year of college; I've been a highschooler up till now, further emphasizing my wish to decide this now so that I don't screw up those first crucial weeks. And if it matters, I'm pre-med. Specifiaclly, I'm a Mathematical Biology major, meaning I'll be dealing with a ton of math, bio, and chem. Lastly, this is going to be loooooooooong.

There are two things that I think I was supposed to do in high-school. One of those was to get into college, which I did. The second was arguably to learn how to take notes and study, to figure out what "works for [me]." I did NOT do this. I didn't take it easy, but I never took notes. Even in classes with tons of info, like AP World History, I'd just listen to lectures and (sometimes) read the book. No note-taking involved. However, there were times in which I tried taking notes, and learned a thing or two about myself in the process.

The most successful of these attempts was in AP Calculus BC, in which I'd sit in class, and copy literally everything the teacher wrote on the board. In doing so, I'd "hear" nothing he actually explained. When I'd go home, I'd open up that night's homework problems in the book, and then stare at my notes and try to make sense of them. And you know what? It worked. Really well, actually. Within about 10 minutes, I'd have figured out how to do the basic set of problems, and as I pushed through the HW, I'd "decode" more and more examples from that days notes until I'd solved the more advanced HW problems too. But there was one time, ONE TIME, when it was the night before the test, and I could not for the life of me decode the damn notes. Of course, this was my fault for saving multiple days' HW for the last night. There was no opportunity to ask the teacher. I never learned that concept (it had something to do with the area of polar graphs), and didn't know it on the AP exam. I still don't know it.
This taught me that I cannot write and "hear" (listen and remember or understand lectures/explanations) at the same time, and that in some cases (ie math), written notes are the only option.

A much less successful attempt could be found in my AP Chemistry class. See, this class was structured much the same way as my Calc class, in that the teacher would lecture in class, always using handwritten notes (no powerpoints etc), and then assign HW problems. The only difference was that the lecture seemed much more information-dense, since there would be theory as well as application through problems (whereas Calc was just problems). I tried the same strategy from Calc: to copy down every word and example in class and then decode it at home to do the HW. The first problem I encountered was that I just couldn't write fast enough when in class and would usually only get fragments of the notes (the teacher filled out the white-board and then erased to recover space). But this obstacle was easily overcome, because the teacher was kind enough to take photos or scans of his notes and then upload them to his website. And I have notes! Sure, they're exactly the same as the teacher's, but it's not like I was doing any paraphrasing or actual thinking to begin with anyway. Yay, right? WRONG! I found that my strategy of decoding the notes at home to do the HW just wasn't working. I couldn't figure them out like I could in Calc. Every single night, no matter how much I tried, I couldn't solve the problems. And what's worse, even with me not writing in class anymore, I STILL didn't "hear" or understand the lectures. The thing is, my original Chemistry teacher didn't really do a job of teaching. And because this wasn't college, where you need to teach yourself or fail, I was able to pass his class without ever learning anything. But I transferred schools between this gen chem class and my AP Chem class. All the other kids in the class had a much more solid foundation then me. Combine this with the fact that I was using fragmented notes the first third of the semester (and not absorbing anything in the lectures as a result), and it becomes hard to determine whether or not this failure was because of my system, or because of being extremely behind. Despite this, I learned that I am a terribly slow writer, and that trying to decode notes to learn things on your own doesn't work very well if I don't have a strong foundation in the subject (strong arithmatic and algebra skills led to easy decoding of notes in Calc, while poor gen chem foundation led to horrible decoding in Chem).

Then it comes to social studies classes like AP World History and US History, or maybe Human Geography and Government and Economics. I found a common trend in them: I even suck at reading. Yeah. These classes had attempts at notes in the beginning. When I started the first of these classes (WHAP), I attempted to take notes not in class, but on the book when I read it. I ran into a problem fairly quickly: I couldn't read and take notes at the same time. Why? It's been so long since this attempt that I actually don't remember this too well, but I think it had to do with the fact that I found it impossible to identify what was worth writing down and what wasn't until I was done with the chapter. If you ask me about the plot of the 5th Harry Potter book, I will leave out the 300 pages of interesting-but-terribly-unnecessary-school-related-slice-of-life-nonsense, but only because I finished that book and know what mattered and what didn't. Hell, even when I was done with a chapter, I still found it hard to pin-point the important. But that didn't matter, because taking notes after reading would require another read, since I obviously wouldn't remember enough to take notes from memory. And that takes too much time. On top of all this, I read horrendously slow, even during initial read-throughs. I learned here that I'm unable to take notes from a reading until I'm done with said reading and have re-read it. There isn't enough time to do this and on top of it all, I read ridiculously slow to begin with. Something like highlighting may work better, though I never even tried that and just ended up reading the chapters before tests.

One last attempt. This is from my classes in Bio 1, AP Bio, and Anatomy and Physiology. In each class, the teachers would teach from powerpoints that they'd make available to the students. The tests were based off of them, and the teachers would teach by going through and putting the different concepts into context. In AP Bio and A&P, we'd actually often get interesting stories and tie-ins that would make the lectures more interesting. These little additional tid-bits made all the difference in terms of understanding. I usually wouldn't need to write them down, but in AP Bio I'd often forget them or disassociate them from the correct topic. This was likely because of the high mass of info in AP Bio, and made me think that maybe I should have printed the notes and annotated them. In A&P though, where there was less info and I could actually keep the stories and tie-ins well associated with their topics, I loved to have the powerpoints on my iPhone and follow along during lectures. It was also fantastic having it all in one place and take up such little space, so that i could whip it out whenever and just get to memorizing. I learned that annotating computer documents helps keep things clear when there's a ton of info, but it's also amazing to have it all with you electronically.

Now that that's all said an done, you may be wondering "why the hell did you tell me your life story?" and to be honest, I don't know what all this raw info actually means in terms of what kind of note-taker I'd be and what kind of device would work better for me. That's where I need your help. I'm a slow writer, so typing when it's not math and I haven't been provided with any kind of additional slides makes sense. The iPad can do that. Highlighting during reading makes sense. The iPad can do that. Writing is necessary for math. The iPad can do that. Annotating given documents and having them with me would be nice. The iPad can do that. However, a notebook + Macbook combo can do it all too, and I'm familiar with traditional computers. I don't know which is better... any help would be appreciated.

User avatar
wobbled

11 Aug 2017, 02:57

If you're serious about note taking then an iPad shouldn't even occur to you as an option. The external keyboards you can use with them are absolute trash unless you hook up some sort of external board through adapters but that'll defeat the point in having a portable tablet anyway. I'd go for the macbook pro any day. I have the 13" variant and although I don't do a lot of travelling with it, it would absolutely do the job. The keyboard is pretty good for what it is, obviously it's nothing compared to a mechanical keyboard but laptop boards are in a different class.

Does it even have to be a macbook? I get they're all the rage right now, and they're particularly popular in education but they're an awful lot of money just for taking notes. I'd rather a thinkpad or a Dell if that's all I was really using it for. If the choice is between the ipad and the macbook alone get the latter. Computers will always have more functionality.

User avatar
chuckdee

11 Aug 2017, 05:16

wobbled wrote: Computers will always have more functionality.
Unless you're talking about a Surface. They have the form factor of a tablet, and the power of a computer, and the ability to attach a keyboard.

I formerly used an iPad, and it's functional. I tried using a laptop also, and it was functional. An iPad Pro might actually work for you with the pen, but I have the idea that it would just be functional. The Surface was the first one that not just was functional, but actually made me more productive.

User avatar
elecplus

11 Aug 2017, 06:34

My grandfather was a college prof, and my dad was a high school science teacher. Granddad pioneered a method called SQ3R--Survey, Question, Read, Write, and Review. Basically you ALWAYS read the chapter BEFORE the class, so the teacher is not talking about brand new material. Open the chapter, read all the heading and sub-heading, and all the captions on the pictures. That is the Survey part.

Then ask yourself what you thing the salient points of the chapter are, and write a few questions down about what you don't understand.

Then Read the chapter in full.

Then Write the answers to your questions, as well as any questions that are presented at the end of the chapter.

Then Review everything before the class.

Some people found it useful to employ a type of shorthand where basically you omit the vowels in the words when taking notes, but this can take practice to get fast at.

Hope this helps a little.

If you have the Mac, and you can get a seat up front, ask the teacher if you can record the classes.

User avatar
hansichen

11 Aug 2017, 08:36

chuckdee wrote:
wobbled wrote: Computers will always have more functionality.
Unless you're talking about a Surface. They have the form factor of a tablet, and the power of a computer, and the ability to attach a keyboard.

I formerly used an iPad, and it's functional. I tried using a laptop also, and it was functional. An iPad Pro might actually work for you with the pen, but I have the idea that it would just be functional. The Surface was the first one that not just was functional, but actually made me more productive.
Regarding Microsoft devices: the last days there was a news article on a German site that Microsoft devices have a very high failure rates within the first 2 years. I haven't read the article in depths as I don't wanna buy one but if you consider buying one I would definetly do some more research and probably buying a different brand.

Menuhin

11 Aug 2017, 11:34

Ace wrote: ... I'm pre-med. Specifiaclly, I'm a Mathematical Biology major, meaning I'll be dealing with a ton of math, bio, and chem. ...
This taught me that I cannot write and "hear" (listen and remember or understand lectures/explanations) at the same time, and that in some cases (ie math), written notes are the only option.
... I found a common trend in them: I even suck at reading. ... I learned here that I'm unable to take notes from a reading until I'm done with said reading and have re-read it. There isn't enough time to do this and on top of it all, I read ridiculously slow to begin with. Something like highlighting may work better, though I never even tried that and just ended up reading the chapters before tests. ...
...
Given you don't need to write code or learn programming and that you don't need to write a lot of essays, it seems to me that you can survive with an iPad.

Regarding the note-taking while listening, and the note-taking while reading aspects, you are normal - we can't do that so efficiently as human beings - the two processes are competing for very similar kind of mental resources. And shorthand people are not interpreting and digesting so much of what they hear either, as their job is to record primarily. And lecturers are not necessarily very good teacher to help students learn - they have at least 50% of the responsibility for the learning process of students from how they structure their courses, and what they have prepared for their lectures and the supplementary materials, and how they deliver the lectures.

I can't read super quickly text of unfamiliar subjects too, and it actually depends a lot on the writing style of text. Things I have learned in the years of my grad schools: if one wants to focus it is better to go totally offline - i.e. use the printouts and a pen. Electronic notes can make the book-keeping aspect of note-taking much tidier on the other hand.

User avatar
Phenix
-p

11 Aug 2017, 12:29

I like the ipad pro - fantastic battery life, 10hours with WIFI+BT, good hand writing.

For the bad: its iOS, 'therefore it runs Apps.. these arent as powerful as desktop apps.

User avatar
vivalarevolución
formerly prdlm2009

11 Aug 2017, 12:43

tl;dr

Basically, I would get the Macbook Pro, and get a 15-in quad core one, because there will be a point that that the iPad or dual-core Macbook Pro just doesn't cut it.

User avatar
Norman_

11 Aug 2017, 16:40

If you need a computer (to run programs etc for your major) get the macbook.

If you need a note taking device -- literally just to take notes and surf the web-- get an ipad pro w/apple pencil and smart keyboard. That way you can either hand write or type notes. But if you need more than that you really don't have a choice to do anything other than the macbook...

Just whatever you do, don't get a windows ultrabook. I've literally never had a 100% good experience with windows machines.

User avatar
Phenix
-p

11 Aug 2017, 19:31

Norman_ wrote:If you need a computer (to run programs etc for your major) get the macbook.

If you need a note taking device -- literally just to take notes and surf the web-- get an ipad pro w/apple pencil and smart keyboard. That way you can either hand write or type notes. But if you need more than that you really don't have a choice to do anything other than the macbook...

Just whatever you do, don't get a windows ultrabook. I've literally never had a 100% good experience with windows machines.

Are you familiar with macs? Is there any way to reproduce the windows compatibility mode? (Not just negative colors, that looks like crap, I mean actual
Nice looking but DARK themed OS, like black background, white letters gray accents)

User avatar
chuckdee

11 Aug 2017, 22:35

hansichen wrote:
chuckdee wrote:
wobbled wrote: Computers will always have more functionality.
Unless you're talking about a Surface. They have the form factor of a tablet, and the power of a computer, and the ability to attach a keyboard.

I formerly used an iPad, and it's functional. I tried using a laptop also, and it was functional. An iPad Pro might actually work for you with the pen, but I have the idea that it would just be functional. The Surface was the first one that not just was functional, but actually made me more productive.
Regarding Microsoft devices: the last days there was a news article on a German site that Microsoft devices have a very high failure rates within the first 2 years. I haven't read the article in depths as I don't wanna buy one but if you consider buying one I would definetly do some more research and probably buying a different brand.
Hyperbole much? With no links to back it up? As I said, I have it, and have had no problems. Also a member of a couple of gathering points for Surface users, and haven't seen those results among the people there. Anecdotal? Sure. But it's pretty sure that the study probably is also. Considering that your conclusion is a foregone one (do research and probably buying a different brand. :roll: ) I'd take that advice with a grain of salt.

User avatar
Ace
§

12 Aug 2017, 02:00

Menuhin wrote:
Ace wrote: snipet
Given you don't need to write code or learn programming and that you don't need to write a lot of essays, it seems to me that you can survive with an iPad.

Regarding the note-taking while listening, and the note-taking while reading aspects, you are normal - we can't do that so efficiently as human beings - the two processes are competing for very similar kind of mental resources. And shorthand people are not interpreting and digesting so much of what they hear either, as their job is to record primarily. And lecturers are not necessarily very good teacher to help students learn - they have at least 50% of the responsibility for the learning process of students from how they structure their courses, and what they have prepared for their lectures and the supplementary materials, and how they deliver the lectures.

I can't read super quickly text of unfamiliar subjects too, and it actually depends a lot on the writing style of text. Things I have learned in the years of my grad schools: if one wants to focus it is better to go totally offline - i.e. use the printouts and a pen. Electronic notes can make the book-keeping aspect of note-taking much tidier on the other hand.
Somehow, this is the first time that I have ever heard this, and let me tell you, I am soooooooooooooo glad to hear it. I've always assumed that I'm somehow slow due to my inability to record/short-hand and read/listen at the same time. Knowing that it's a general thing is extremely comforting, since now I have it in my mind that other students are dealing with similar problems.

User avatar
Ace
§

12 Aug 2017, 02:09

elecplus wrote: My grandfather was a college prof, and my dad was a high school science teacher. Granddad pioneered a method called SQ3R--Survey, Question, Read, Write, and Review. Basically you ALWAYS read the chapter BEFORE the class, so the teacher is not talking about brand new material. Open the chapter, read all the heading and sub-heading, and all the captions on the pictures. That is the Survey part.

Then ask yourself what you thing the salient points of the chapter are, and write a few questions down about what you don't understand.

Then Read the chapter in full.

Then Write the answers to your questions, as well as any questions that are presented at the end of the chapter.

Then Review everything before the class.

Some people found it useful to employ a type of shorthand where basically you omit the vowels in the words when taking notes, but this can take practice to get fast at.

Hope this helps a little.

If you have the Mac, and you can get a seat up front, ask the teacher if you can record the classes.
This method seems pretty solid, and its one of many that I'll be trying out in the first few weeks of class (though I admittedly hadn't heard of it before you explained it). What I find missing, however, is how to deal with things other than reading. Sure, my current math strategy (record verbatim what the teacher writes and decode at home w/ HW) works fine, and Biology, the other half of my major, is largely text based. But surely taking some form of notes in those reading-based lectures will be necessary, no? Or is it fine to just listen to a lecture without bothering with notes at all?

Now, you did mention sitting in the front and recording on a Macbook, but will that do any good as just audio? After all, with new Apps like Notability, you can record your professors voice, and the app will sync it to your handwriting. So you can play back an animation of your writing appearing on the iPad as the audio plays. I haven't tried it, but it seems extremely powerful, and is really attracting me towards the iPad.

User avatar
Ace
§

12 Aug 2017, 02:13

wobbled wrote: If you're serious about note taking then an iPad shouldn't even occur to you as an option. The external keyboards you can use with them are absolute trash unless you hook up some sort of external board through adapters but that'll defeat the point in having a portable tablet anyway. I'd go for the macbook pro any day. I have the 13" variant and although I don't do a lot of travelling with it, it would absolutely do the job. The keyboard is pretty good for what it is, obviously it's nothing compared to a mechanical keyboard but laptop boards are in a different class.

Does it even have to be a macbook? I get they're all the rage right now, and they're particularly popular in education but they're an awful lot of money just for taking notes. I'd rather a thinkpad or a Dell if that's all I was really using it for. If the choice is between the ipad and the macbook alone get the latter. Computers will always have more functionality.
I actually really like the Macbook's keyboard. Yes, I'm weird. Still though, I thought that using a small 40% board with an iPad would be a decent option. Sure, at that point it would be less portable than a Macbook, but not by much. And I assumed that the improvement in typing quality would trump the slight lose of portability. Is there anything I'm missing here? Are small boards (40%) not commonly available? Or is there no implementation that could work with lightening or bluetooth?

As for the laptop being more powerful, I completely agree. No, maybe not raw power (since the new iPads are beating even the dual core Intel CPUs now), but power through the software available. Heck, I was thinking about hooking up an eGPU to the Macbook so that it would be capable for the occasional game (I'm not enough of a gamer anymore to build a dedicated system; Macbook + eGPU + Bootcamp will do). It's just the proposition that the iPad may be more capable than even the Macbook when it comes to note-taking that intrigues me.

User avatar
chuckdee

12 Aug 2017, 17:28

Ace wrote: Now, you did mention sitting in the front and recording on a Macbook, but will that do any good as just audio? After all, with new Apps like Notability, you can record your professors voice, and the app will sync it to your handwriting. So you can play back an animation of your writing appearing on the iPad as the audio plays. I haven't tried it, but it seems extremely powerful, and is really attracting me towards the iPad.
I formerly used Notability when I was going through my decision on what to do about note taking in meetings. Very useful app, and getting better.

Livescribe does the same, and allows you to record the audio. My problem with the whole thing was recordings are real time, so going back to them for notes was just counter intuitive to what I was doing, at least to me.

davkol

12 Aug 2017, 18:35

Macbook/ipad/whatever is a distraction. You can do just fine with a refurb $50 netbook and pen&paper. But you need to know how to use it.

Thus, take a course on how to learn. There's a bunch of decent MOOCs; I've been told the one on Coursera is good, but I'm sure there are other solid sources.

User avatar
seebart
Offtopicthority Instigator

12 Aug 2017, 18:49

davkol wrote: Macbook/ipad/whatever is a distraction. You can do just fine with a refurb $50 netbook and pen&paper. But you need to know how to use it.
:maverick: :lol:

Get some thing like this, it has very nice keycaps & Micro Switch ST switches BTW.
grid1101.jpg
grid1101.jpg (116.2 KiB) Viewed 1180 times

User avatar
Ace
§

13 Aug 2017, 21:02

wobbled wrote: ...Does it even have to be a macbook? I get they're all the rage right now, and they're particularly popular in education...
I somehow missed this the first time I looked at this thread, but now that I've seen it, I simply must ask: are they all the rage right now? Most people I've seen discussing it seem to think it's the worst thing ever. And while I understand that there are some annoyances, I think they're blown way out of proportion. I've genuinely loved using the machine in the short time I've had it.

A lot of people seem to think that MacBooks are just a status symbol, but it seems to me that this exists only in people's minds. I haven't heard seen any actual person that thinks like this to date.

Regardless, I've decided that the Macbook is the better option for me. I am, however, feeling a bit regretful about buying the most recent one instead an older model. I didn't looks at the old 17 inchers properly until recently, and they seem really awesome. Still, I'm sure my 2016 13inch is just as good, if not better, for a student.

User avatar
XMIT
[ XMIT ]

14 Aug 2017, 05:35

I agree that SQ3R is good. Best of luck doing this in classes where there is no textbook and the lecturer doesn't give notes out ahead of time.

User avatar
Ace
§

15 Aug 2017, 02:39

XMIT wrote: I agree that SQ3R is good. Best of luck doing this in classes where there is no textbook and the lecturer doesn't give notes out ahead of time.
... WOW! Thanks for that. And just when I was starting to feel confident too.

User avatar
zslane

17 Aug 2017, 02:28

iOS apps are quite powerful and feature-rich these days. There's not much you can't do with them. For college, an iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil is a killer combination. You can record your lectures while you take notes. And apps like Notability will play back the lecture in sync with what you wrote so you can see what you were writing when the lecturer was talking.

If you go to YouTube you will find a lot of videos where college students describe/demonstrate how they use the iPad Pro & Apple Pencil for college. Pour through those and then decide if it will suit your needs.

I should point out that I am not an unbiased contributor here: I dislike laptops and I love my iPad Pro. For one thing, the applications are a whole lot cheaper, and pretty much just as powerful as their PC equivalents. Except when I need to do high-end DCC, but for that I need a much bigger screen and many more cores than a laptop will give me (for around $1000), so I'm going to be at my desktop PC for that anyway.

User avatar
Phenix
-p

17 Aug 2017, 19:09

zslane wrote:iOS apps are quite powerful and feature-rich these days. There's not much you can't do with them. For college, an iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil is a killer combination. You can record your lectures while you take notes. And apps like Notability will play back the lecture in sync with what you wrote so you can see what you were writing when the lecturer was talking.

If you go to YouTube you will find a lot of videos where college students describe/demonstrate how they use the iPad Pro & Apple Pencil for college. Pour through those and then decide if it will suit your needs.

I should point out that I am not an unbiased contributor here: I dislike laptops and I love my iPad Pro. For one thing, the applications are a whole lot cheaper, and pretty much just as powerful as their PC equivalents. Except when I need to do high-end DCC, but for that I need a much bigger screen and many more cores than a laptop will give me (for around $1000), so I'm going to be at my desktop PC for that anyway.
I pm'ed you regarding which apps you use: maybe I am not using proper tools..
Ace wrote:
XMIT wrote: I agree that SQ3R is good. Best of luck doing this in classes where there is no textbook and the lecturer doesn't give notes out ahead of time.
... WOW! Thanks for that. And just when I was starting to feel confident too.

User avatar
Ace
§

04 Sep 2017, 23:10

Phenix wrote: Are you familiar with macs? Is there any way to reproduce the windows compatibility mode? (Not just negative colors, that looks like crap, I mean actual
Nice looking but DARK themed OS, like black background, white letters gray accents)
I'm a new Mac user, but if anyone knows how to do this, please do tell! It sounds awesome...

User avatar
Phenix
-p

05 Sep 2017, 00:14

Ace wrote:
Phenix wrote: Are you familiar with macs? Is there any way to reproduce the windows compatibility mode? (Not just negative colors, that looks like crap, I mean actual
Nice looking but DARK themed OS, like black background, white letters gray accents)
I'm a new Mac user, but if anyone knows how to do this, please do tell! It sounds awesome...
well - dark themed is king imho.. A 'ok' way of doing this is to set a hotkey for the 'invert colors' option. Not optimal but better than nothing..

User avatar
Ace
§

05 Sep 2017, 00:41

Phenix wrote:
Ace wrote:
Phenix wrote: Are you familiar with macs? Is there any way to reproduce the windows compatibility mode? (Not just negative colors, that looks like crap, I mean actual
Nice looking but DARK themed OS, like black background, white letters gray accents)
I'm a new Mac user, but if anyone knows how to do this, please do tell! It sounds awesome...
well - dark themed is king imho.. A 'ok' way of doing this is to set a hotkey for the 'invert colors' option. Not optimal but better than nothing..
But that completely screws up any type of graphic or picture. :(

Post Reply

Return to “Off-topic”