Starting the second year of HC 2.0, HC’s college-provided student technology has had an adjustment this year. First-year and incoming transfer students received iPad Airs (2019) instead of 2018 iPad Pros (11”), for reasons including but not exclusively because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Price and usage were the major factors that led to the purchase of iPad Airs. At most retail outlets, iPad Airs are listed for under $650 while iPad Pros are $799.
“Given the financial challenges all schools are facing, including HC, we were charged with choosing the best device to meet the needs of our campus within the constraints of our budget,” said IT Specialist Patty Kingsley. “While the iPad Pros are great tablets, over the past year of the iPad initiative, the ‘pro’ features weren’t being used enough across programs and users to justify the additional cost.”
Limited supply and increased demand also complicated the process, meaning first-year students didn’t receive their devices until Block 2 had started.
Although the iPad Air is much cheaper than the iPad Pro, the differences between the two models are minimal in terms of performance. The iPad Pros may be a little faster, but the internal processing chips and battery of the Airs are functionally the same and they run the same version of iOS. Both models feature Apple Pencil support with wireless charging, and the Airs came with a free replacement nib. The Airs have slightly smaller screens (10.5”), but the Touch ID fingerprint sensor/home button gives an advantage over the Pros that only have Face ID.
“I honestly think the primary challenge of having a new model on campus is for our IT support team,” Kingsley said.
The biggest difference between the iPad Pros and iPad Airs isn’t in the hardware, but in the support warranty. The four-year AppleCare+ packages purchased by the college for the Airs includes two $49-repairs per year, whereas the support package for the iPad Pros covers only two repairs over three years.
“I think the iPad Air is a great line and with the recent update will be a real contender for next year’s models. What I do hope is that students and faculty alike take full advantage of the great features and capabilities of the iPads so we can continue to push our initiative to support mobile computing readiness forward at HC,” Kingsley said.