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Replacing paper textbooks with iPad?

  1. Aug 31, 2012 #1
    Has anyone any experience with that? Do you recommend it? Im undergraduate physics major and Im wondering should I buy iPad for this purpose (Ofc I would do other things with it too :D).
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 31, 2012 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Great idea! I use the iPad that way with my reference books, saves carrying them to work each day. I can highlight any content and to un-highlight if I change my mind.

    In contrast, Android has the AIDE app that allows onboard app development akin to Eclipse running on Android.

    The iBooks app comes with iPad and is good for viewing pdfs and ebooks.

    GoodReader is a good app for viewing and marking up pdfs and ebooks.

    The Notability app is great for taking notes and recording lectures.

    The iPad camera is useful for capturing pages out of hardcopy books.

    Textastic is a great app for writing programs with support for over 80 languages.

    The one iPad weakness for me is that you can't write and run programs on the iPad without serious restrictions from Apple. There is an app to write/run simple python scripts without support for drawing or gui.


    Enable the FIND MY IPAD app, set the screen saver password and:

    Just don't lose it!

    Many students leave their stuff in the library or some public place and step away for a moment returning to discover someone's taken it.

    Lastly, always backup your work (ie send papers to yourself and use iTunes to save snapshots of the device).
  4. Aug 31, 2012 #3


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I use the iPad exclusively for books and papers. For PDFs (which is the majority of materials) I use Goodreader which is superb for managing collections, annotating and so forth.

    The major problem that a student will face is that many of the textbooks for early years are not available.

    Also, while there are Kindle editions of some books one needs to be particularly careful since most books with significant mathematical content are not well formatted in the Kindle mobi format. Kindle does have what is called print replica format which is PDF in a Kindle container and these are actually PDFs of the print material.

    I am not aware of much iBooks content but it will have similar problems with the Kindle format in that ePub is not yet used to provide well formatted mathematical content.

    PDF on the other hand is the source for most printed materials and so if it looks good in physical print and the publisher has made the PDF available as an eBook then the results are excellent.

    Older texts are scanned and OCR'd some not as well as possible from publishers such as Wiley-VCH.

    Pricing is also quirky. In some cases the eBook price is less than the Hardbound and in some cases - notably from World Scientific - the eBook is priced at a premium above Hardbound.

    On the whole if you can find the materials you need in PDF then the iPad is a really wonderful alternative to carrying around large amounts of books and hardcopies of papers.
  5. Sep 3, 2012 #4
    I am an undergraduate and used my iPad for study quite extensively in the past year. I have mixed feelings about it, but on the whole it is not at all a bad idea.

    So what books could you store on an iPad? I didn't use my iPad for all my courses, but just a few. If a course has digital course notes, slides and other material it is an excellent way of storing these on an iPad. Unfortunately, videos might not always work properly and anything requiring Flash Player will fail. What I found extremely useful was doing old exams using my iPad (saves printing work if you don't have a printer and works more convenient than a PC).

    Then about the apps that will allow you to read. The iPad has the programme iBooks built in, and using this to read books in general works quite well in my opinion. Unfortunately, it does lack a function to easily browse to a page you are looking for. The scroll bar on the bottom doesn't really work well anymore with thick books, as you can only approximate the location of the page you are looking for. Turning pages one by one takes considerably more time than with a real book because its design tries to prevent accidental turning by touching the screen (you have to wipe a lot for just a few pages ;)). Another downside compared with real books in my opinion is that you are unable to make notes and underline important information. Fortunately, there is also Adobe Reader for iPad, which works much smoother in turning pages and finding relevant information. Browsing through digital versions does make it easier to find specific information you are looking for using the search option. Also, in Adobe Reader you can underline and highlight important text (if the pdf file allows; scanned files might not work). If you are used to underline quite a lot in your textbook as I am, then the experience might feel a bit less natural and more time consuming on an iPad, but it at least it works.
    I will keep GoodReader in mind as well and try that out some time.

    Storing all books in your iPad is a good way to ensure you won't forget to bring a certain book to class. On the other hand, you have to watch your batteries carefully ;).

    The reading experience is not as natural as a book or even an e-Reader. Reading from an iPad feels quite the same as reading from a screen, so it depends on whether you are comfortable with that. Compared with some modern e-Readers, my eyes tire quite quickly during reading sessions on the iPad.

    Next semester I am going for more paper books, but I will continue to use my iPad for digital files including lecture notes and slides. I would say it is good substitute for a laptop computer in class, although you might want to get a compatible keyboard if you want to type text. It is just short of truly replacing one (apps are more limited than PC programs), but using it for mail, reading digital material, surfing in general (forget Flash sites) and storing files works fine.
  6. Sep 4, 2012 #5


    Staff: Mentor

    with respect to video, check out ipad azul app. It seems to play most formats lke vlc on pc or linux.
  7. Sep 16, 2012 #6
    Seems like everyone that has posted so far is a yay for an iPad. I prefer the more traditional route with the physical textbook. Even when I have a PDF of a textbook on my laptop, I won't read it. It's kind of strange. If I can't hold the book in my hand I just won't read it.
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