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ancientqueen

iPad for grad students?

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Hey everyone! I hope the accept/decline period of this process has been treating you all well. 

Here's my situation: got a text from my grandma asking about a graduation present and she told me she wants to either get me a new computer or buy me an iPad. I just upgraded my computer over the summer, so that's not necessary, but I'm looking into the iPad. The thing is, she's being very generous with this gift and I want to make absolutely sure that it's worth it to get an iPad. I would hate to say I want one and then it turns out that there's not much I can use it for and it was a waste of her money to get it.

So, those of you with iPads- what do you use it for? Are there any apps that are especially helpful for an MA student? What are the benefits of using an iPad in class as opposed to just bringing my computer or taking notes by hand (which I've done the entirety of my undergrad)? 

Thanks to anyone who answers! 

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I have a Kindle Fire HD10, which is not quite an iPad but still a tablet. I have it purely for fun and entertainment. I don't really find it very helpful for productivity/work at all. I think tablets are too unwieldy for email on-the-go (I use my phone instead) and current e-reader software on all platforms is no good for reading academic papers (in my field) in my opinion. I really like putting books for leisure reading, downloading videos (with the Kindle, it's well linked with the Amazon ecosystem so you can download Amazon Prime streaming videos for offline use, e.g. on airplanes!). Of course, this is a matter of personal tastes/preferences, but I just don't find a tablet helpful to my work life (although I LOVE it for entertainment purposes). One can also make an argument that it helps make travel for work more fun and therefore helps your work life :)

I think if your phone needs an upgrade, that might do more for work/productivity than getting a tablet (or a new computer, since you already have a newish one). But there's nothing wrong with a new device to increase your quality of life, either!

P.S. Super cool of your grandma to do this for you and to communicate it via text message! lol

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I use my iPad mini about 20% for work, but it's really nice when I do have it. 

I've never been one to take electronics to class at all, so I can't speak to taking notes on the iPad (or a laptop) I always just did it by hand. 

What I do use my iPad for in relation to school is primarily storing PDFs (I have every paper I've downloaded in grad school on there and organized), and showing data. I really do like a tablet (vs a computer) to show data to my PI/visiting speakers, as it tends to be less awkward to put it on the table between us, and we can easily notate/diagram on the graphs/images I've taken. 

I also use it as a digital repository for my lab notebooks- I take pictures of all of them with a scanner app, and store them as searchable PDFs- but that's a lot less useful for someone not in bench sciences. Since lab notebooks aren't supposed to leave the lab, that lets me have a copy with me in my office/at home/when I'm out of town and need to check some detail of a procedure. 

It's also nice for those times when I'd like a screen bigger than my phone, but don't want to lug my laptop around. I use it a lot for administrative meetings, when I need to be able to reference draft policies and documents, but don't want to have a computer open in front of me. The iPad mini is nice for that, because I can slip it in my back pocket, but the screen is big enough (for me) to easily read a letter-sized PDF without zooming. I find it similarly useful at conferences when I want to do a quick check of a paper someone's referencing, but don't want to squint on my phone or pull out a laptop.

I use it a lot more for personal things than work- it's my primary e-reader, for instance. Our public library has a fantastic ebook checkout system, and I read 2-3 novels per week when I'm unwinding.

In short, if you have one I'm sure you'll get good milage out of it, but it's definitely not something you "need". That said, the new iPad Pro (with stylus input) for note-taking might be something else entirely, but it's too expensive for me to want to check out.

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There's a Goodnotes app that lets you write directly on your pdfs. It's less bulky than a textbook, and you can bookmark things easily. That being said, I used this for about a semester before going back to textbooks. (Still in undergrad though.) 

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13 hours ago, Eigen said:

I use my iPad mini about 20% for work, but it's really nice when I do have it. 

I've never been one to take electronics to class at all, so I can't speak to taking notes on the iPad (or a laptop) I always just did it by hand. 

What I do use my iPad for in relation to school is primarily storing PDFs (I have every paper I've downloaded in grad school on there and organized), and showing data. I really do like a tablet (vs a computer) to show data to my PI/visiting speakers, as it tends to be less awkward to put it on the table between us, and we can easily notate/diagram on the graphs/images I've taken. 

What app do you use for notating and drawing on graphs on the iPad? I feel like this could be incredibly useful! 

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I sync all of my data to GoodReader via either DropBox or Box (or any other server based storage) usually as PDFs. 

It has pretty good annotation tools, that I use for both articles and data files.

I know people that also use it to teach, by hooking up the iPad to the projector and using PDFs. As a digital whiteboard. 

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Thanks for the advice everyone!

I've been weighing the options and I'm thinking I'm going to go for an iPad. I'm mostly interested in note-taking apps (Goodnotes sounds divine). I've switched to digital note-taking even though I prefer handwritten because I end up rewriting all of my notes anyway, so I might as well save some paper. I also figured that it would be nice to have something for recreation too--I have a super bad habit of trying to focus on Only Work At All Times, so I feel like something that encourages more opportunities for rest will be good for me. 

I'm looking into the iPad Pro (it just looks really nice) but the keyboard is a whopping $150. Hooray for student discounts, at least?

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I was going to come in and suggest the iPad Pro, if you really want an iPad, or maybe a Surface 3. If I were going back to graduate school and wanted to annotate PDFs, I'd want an iPad that supported a stylus and writing precision. With the iPad Pro you could use the Apple Pencil (or with the Surface 3, the Surface Pen) to write/annotate PDFs through GoodReader, which is also the app I used in graduate school. Surface 3 has Windows 10 on it so you could use Adobe Reader or some other regular Windows desktop app to do this.

However - Wacom does make inexpensive styluses for non-Pro iPad and iPad minis that include palm rejection technology. So you might be interested in one of those, and then you can get a regular iPad or iPad mini for cheaper.

Also, tell your grandmother to look into Apple's refurbished iPads and also look at buying older model iPads from resellers like Glyde. You can get these for a fraction of the cost of a brand-new, current generation one, and tablets only have minor changes made to them in each iteration. (I would recommend going with an iPad with a Retina screen, though - it makes a big difference.)

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