While it won't replace your dedicated research laptop, it's a great device for the classroom. But it's a little less than ideal straight out of the box. I got awfully fast at touch typing, but here are some accessories I wish I'd invested in while I was using my iPad for note taking.
1. A keyboard
You can use any bluetooth keyboard with the iPad, but Apple's own wireless keyboard is a great solution. It's small, lightweight, and pairs quickly with the iPad. Unfortunately it is a little pricey, and it's a pain to use it with multiple devices (like your desktop or laptop) because it can only be tied to one device at a time, but it's a clean solution. I prefer it to a dedicated keyboard case because when I'm at home I don't want a keyboard tethered to my iPad. You may or may not feel the same.
If you'll be using your iPad 100% for writing and taking notes, a keyboard case may be the way to go. The Logitech iPad Keyboard Case (pictured at the beginning of this article) is a good option for $90, and has earned the title of best iPad Keyboard Case on The Wirecutter.
2. A stylus
A stylus isn't a total necessity, but it is handy for jotting down diagrams or equations, depending on the type of classes you take. It's a tool science and art majors alike might appreciate. Try something like the Adonit Jot, which comes in several varieties starting at $19.99, or grab something as cheap as this generic 3 pack of styli from Amazon for only $2.25 (free shipping).
3. A stand
There are a number of ways to stand your iPad up, but something like Apple's magnetic smart cover is a good choice for its versatility. It works nicely as a stand when you need to take notes, and protects the face of your iPad from scuffs while you're transporting it. You can even use it as a study-aid with Evernote's quiz app, Evernote Peek. The Smart Cover might be a little pricey, but a search on Amazon yields a ton of generic options, too.
That's it. Though there are a number of accessories to make note taking easier with the iPad, you don't truly need any of them — but they do come in handy. Either way, the iPad (or any tablet for that matter) makes for a great classroom computer.
Will you be taking an iPad to class this semester, or will you be opting for a laptop? Do you even take a computer to class at all? Let us know!
(Images: as linked above)