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iPad Perfect for College Students?

By now, I’m sure everyone has heard about Apple’s new release – the giant iPhone the iPad. A few days ago, I came across an Associated Press article discussing how the new iPad will be perfect for college students. This is definitely an idea I thought about when I first heard of the release, but I have mixed feelings about how well the iPad will be for class-goers.

I’ll preface my discussion by letting you know that I’m an avid Mac user and have been all of my college life. I worked in an Apple retail store in the summer of 2008 and have been following Apple Inc. since 2006. Let’s see how biased I am….

Here are some points made by the AP article and my thoughts along with them.

1. With the new book store from Apple, the iPad can replace those heavy text books that we lug to class every day.

The fact that the iPad serves as a book reader is something that was long-expected. The size of the device is perfect for slipping in and out of your book-bag but has the capability to display books on its rich screen. Here’s my problem: from what I can tell, not a lot of textbooks are available electronically. That being said, if the iPad’s book reader has the ability to mark things in books and copy/paste text from the book itself, I think that it would be a huge business opportunity for any textbook publishers to offer their products on the iPad.

The iPad could replace textbooks, but I think that’s a while off. UPDATE: Just noticed this article on MacRumors about textbook publishers looking to bring content to the iPad.

2. Note taking ability and calendar feature perfect for college students!

We’ll start with note-taking. People have been discussing all week now how it’ll be pretty awkward to type on the iPad unless you place it on a flat surface. Perfect for students since we’re at desks/tables, right? Not necessarily. From what I’ve seen, the iPad is running the iPhone OS and the way to take notes is with a little, measly notepad program. From my experience, the best way to take notes is inside Microsoft Office where you have the ability to format text, change sizes, draw illustrations, etc. Sure, maybe developers will release a program that’s perfect for note-taking. If that happens, I’ll retract my worry on the matter. Regardless, I think it would be really handy to take notes with the dock accessory that will be available for the iPad which stands the iPad up and gives you an external keyboard. Pretty snazzy if you ask me.

As far as the calendar feature, I think this really will be useful. I use my calendar (mainly Google Calendar) every single day. The fact that the calendar on the iPad can sync to Google Calendar makes it even better. My question is, “Will the calendar app be exactly like the iPhone calendar app? Or will it be more functional like iCal (Mac calendar program)?” I only ask because the iPhone calendar app is a lot more static (not as interactive) than iCal. Ideally, I would like the calendar program to be able to copy and paste events, drag them around the calendar, and be really easy to add events. Not too much to ask, right?

3. iTunes, YouTube, and pictures

I truly feel that the iPad will be a great way to browse media. It has a built-in speaker along with a headphone jack so that you can listen to music and watch videos. Probably not best to replace your iPod with this device as it won’t quite fit into your pocket, but still, when I’m sitting in class before it begins I wouldn’t mind turning on iTunes and browsing videos on YouTube.

The photo interface looks really slick. If you want to show off your photos, you’ll have no problem doing it with the iPad. The thing is, though, most college students only really browse pictures on Facebook….right? Sure, sometimes I’ll show a friend/family member pictures from a recent trip, but mainly, the photos I view are the ones I’m tagged in and my friends are tagged in on Facebook. This isn’t really a problem for the iPad, but something to think about.

4. Cost

You can’t discuss a product from Apple without talking about how much dough you’re going to have to cough up to get one. The AP article says that the cost is perfect for college students. For $500 you get the WiFi(only) version with the ability to hold 16GB. You can also shell out an additional $130 for the 3G model (then pay for a data plan).

Is it just me, or does that seem REALLY steep? The iPad will certainly not replace my iPhone (since it’s awkwardly big to make a phone call [and no it doesn’t have a cellular radio chip in it]) for which I’m already paying $30 a month for a data plan. Apple said that you can limit your data usage to 250MB a month for just $15 a month, but that’s pretty much useless in my eyes. People don’t want to have to worry about their data usage on a device like this after dishing out hundreds of dollars already. It’ll feel like you’re back in the dorms!

Yes, you can use Penn State’s wireless access points, but we all know how flaky they are…I guess it’s a matter of preference on how much you think you’ll use the iPad to access the Internet.


Overall, I hear both sides of the popularity of the iPad….and I understand them! My verdict is as follows.

Yes, the iPad is revolutionary, but I think it’ll take a couple years to get it to where we want it.

Maybe after Apple adds USB ports and an SD card reader will I consider getting one. Also, I think the iPad would benefit greatly from its own operating system instead of using the iPhone’s. Don’t those little App buttons look so puny?

Check out Apple’s website for more information on the iPad.

[Pic 1]   [Pic 2]   [Pic 3] [Pic 4]

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About the Author


Dennis is a rising junior majoring in IST with a minor in Supply Chain. Outside the classroom, Dennis is an ITS Lab Consultant, a member of the Penn State Blue Band Drumline, and the current President of Phi Kappa Theta Fraternity. Check out his website at

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