10 (Fictional) Reasons Not To Buy an iPad for Your College Student
An article was recently published on one of my favourite websites, Tech Republic on 10 Reasons Not To Buy an iPad for Your College Student. While normally I like Tech Republic and find most of their articles to be incredibly informative, this one just doesn’t make any sense to me.
If anyone knows me or has read any articles of mine in the past, they will know that I am a big believer in tablets. I think that they are really where the future of common computing is going. While they may not ever replace the PC we have come to know and love, they are changing the way we interact with our data. Also, I myself am a college student, so I can speak to this article from personal experience about how an iPad works within the school environment.
Let’s go through his list and see what happens.
1: It’s Expensive
This is true. The iPad is not going to be the cheapest device that you buy your college student, but it’s also not going to be the most expensive. In my final year of University, I spent approximately $800 on printing, textbooks, and course packs. This is well over the price of an iPad and at many schools you can get access to all of this from a computer or iPad, and reading textbooks on an iPad could not be a better experience. However, if you are strapped for cash after all of the mandatory purchases have been made, I would agree, it’s too expensive, save your money.
2: It’s not the best solution for note-taking or editing documents
Here’s where I further start to disagree. Somogyi argues that you cannot write long documents with any efficiency on the iPad. To prove this point wrong I have written this entire post using an iPad. I do agree that it’s not the most ideal solution if you’re going to be writing 30 page turn papers, but students always have access to multiple computers at school whether in labs or the library. On the iPad you could have all your notes sync with Evernote, and type away in class (while recording the lecture as well) and then write up the summary of your next paper. Then take it to the library, finish it up, and hand it in.
Another option, would be to have both a computer and an iPad. The iPad is much easier to take to class for notes and won’t put as much of a strain as the weight of a laptop does.
3: It’s Too Distracting
At this point I wonder if Somogyi has actually used an iPad. When you have an iPad, you can have one app on the screen at a time. When you use a laptop, you can have many. Sitting in lectures and looking at people’s laptop screens in front of me, I constantly see MSN messenger windows, Facebook, World of Warcraft, and Internet surfing. If this is an argument against the iPad I would suggest you don’t let your student have a laptop either. However, you can doodle on paper so that might be too distracting as well…
4: It’s ultra-portable and ultra-droppable
Any portable technology can break. Last term in class I saw a student trip over his power-cord and send his laptop flying across the room (luckily no one was hurt, but I can’t say the same about the laptop). I’ve had an iPad since they were available in Canada and have never once had a problem dropping it. If this is really a worry for you, there are cases that can withstand a car driving over it and a 30 foot drop, so you should be safe.
5: What makes it desirable to your kid makes it desirable to criminals
I’ve yet to see any proof that iPad’s are more likely to be stolen than a laptop. If it is stolen, there are services like Find My iPhone which will let you track, lock, and wipe any of your data on the device. As well, I learned in my first year of university that I can easily pick a laptop lock using a hollowed out pen (the lock was stuck, I wasn’t stealing anything) so there really isn’t any way to prevent it. This seems to be more fear mongering than anything.
6: It’s meant for the enjoyment of one person, which means social seclusion
This could not be any further from how students actually use the iPad. In class my iPad is handled by many students as we use it to draw network diagrams, keep a copy of our lab instructions on, or to watch some funny videos we found on Youtube. The iPad is much more of a social device than a laptop and it is very rare that you will find a students head buried in the iPad over a laptop. As well, many people who don’t have an iPad will ask about it when they see one. I’ve been stopped many times by people on the bus asking questions about the iPad when they see me using it. And none of them tried to steal it from me either.
7: Digital text books are a marvel, but there’s no secondary market
I helped pay my way through university by working at the used bookstore on campus and can tell you first hand that there is no secondary market for physical books either anymore. Publishers don’t like students selling textbooks so now they include special activation codes for online resources they need, but can only be used once by one student. This means that if you sell your textbook, the next student won’t be able to get access to these codes and will have to purchase them from the publishers, for about 30% of the books value. So don’t be fooled by the price of used books being cheaper, you probably won’t save any money this way.
As a side note, the used bookstore I used to work at is now closed due to these problems.
8: It’s a status symbol, plain and simple
I don’t completely disagree with this argument. Yes there is a status connotation associated with the iPad, or any other tablet for that matter, but that’s not all it is. A tablet can be a useful tool for a student, and if it helps their perceived worth, what’s the harm in that. They will probably be seen as the more tech-savvy of their friends, which may help them out in the long run. Now if your student wants an iPad ONLY because it’s “cool” then no, don’t get them an iPad as it will be a waste of money since they won’t be using it, but if they can rationally explain to you their use cases for one, I don’t see the harm.
9: It’ll already be old technology by the time you buy it
This logic also dictates that you shouldn’t buy a laptop, car or cell phone ever. Yes technology changes, and yes Apple has a standard yearly refresh cycle. So does the automotive industry. Guess what, people are still using the iPad 1 and it works fine and has no issues. My future father-in-law is using an iPhone 3G and loves it. Using old technology is going to happen. I just bought a brand new iMac and I know that in a year, there will be a new one. Does that mean I shouldn’t have bought it? Of course not.
10: Your kid will want a laptop, too
Yep. Your kid will also want a car, new jeans, a cool backpack, and an unending flow of money from your bank account. While I do agree that you will probably need a computer as well, it doesn’t have to be a laptop if your student has an iPad. A cheap desktop will work well and the combined cost of the desktop and iPad will probably be similar to the cost of the laptop you would be getting anyways.
While this is by no means to say that you should buy your student an iPad, I would say that the reason should come down to 2 points on whether or not to get one. The first, is it in the budget. If it isn’t, don’t get it. The second: will it benefit my student. Some programs, an iPad would be a terrible mix with, others, a match made in heaven. You need to look at the needs of your student to determine if the iPad is right for him or her. As well, as I mentioned earlier, there are always computers available at the school to do anything that you can’t do on an iPad.
A tablet can be a great productivity tool. I use mine every single day in class to take notes, view my teachers power points, create my own presentations, research various subjects, and to just have fun. By saying that you shouldn’t get your student an iPad because of any of these reasons is simple ignorance. There may be many reasons you don’t want to get an iPad, but these are not them.
Original Article: Deal News