The iPad Pro

One of the most important gadgets is my 13” iPad Pro. It has become my daily driver, effectively replacing my computer. I’d like to explain why I love this device.

Hardware

It’s an iPad, so it comes with the same elegance as the iPad Air before it. It’s super thin, lightweight, and provides a huge canvas to work on. TouchID saves me from having to constantly type my password when logging in. If I lose it somewhere*, I can instantly locate it using the Find my Phone app, and lock or erase the device.

What really makes the iPad different than a laptop however is the battery life. While the MacBook has come a long way, the iPad Pro can comfortably run for over 10 hours on a single charge. Since I no longer have to carry a bundle of power cords, I don’t use a laptop bag anymore.

I have found two drawbacks to the iPad Pro hardware.

The first centers around Apple Pencil. Unlike the Microsoft Surface Pro, there is no way to attach the Pencil to the iPad. I keep it in my pocket, and habitually lose it for days, weeks, and one time months at a time. It’s a minor issue, but one Steve Jobs cautioned about during the iPhone launch when discussing the lack of a stylus.

The second, and more critical, is the lack of ports on the device. The only port on the iPad Pro is the Lightning port on the bottom of the tablet. In my new position, I will have to present to customers and business partners. While I could mirror my iPad to a big screen using Airplay, most enterprises have not adopted the AppleTV in their conference rooms. I can plug in an adapter to connect physically to a TV or projector, but I cannot plug in a USB presentation clicker. With the removal of almost all ports on the MacBook line of laptops, this will be an issue for any Apple user who regularly has to connect to a projector to present a slide deck.

Accessories

I use two primary accessories with my iPad.

Apple Pencil

One of the main benefits to the iPad Pro is the ability to use Apple Pencil to draw on the iPad screen. Unlike the cheaper stylus which try to mimic your finger size, the Apple Pencil behaves like an actual writing instrument. The latency between writing on the screen and seeing the “ink” is almost undetectable by the human eye, and this has enabled me to avoid the white board in meetings. Instead I will draw on my iPad, and then instantly share the drawing with those in the meeting. It’s like a portable smart board. My only gripes with Apple Pencil are how easy it is to lose, and this:

Apple Keyboard cover

Adding a physical keyboard to the iPad Pro is a must for anyone looking to use this as a laptop replacement. I purchased my iPad Pro right after the launch, and as you can imagine accessories like Apple Pencil and the Apple Keyboard cover were in short supply. I also have not had good luck in the past with Apple’s smart covers**, so it did not take much convincing for me to look at alternatives. My journey resembled Goldie Locks looking for the right bed to lay in.

I started with the Logitech Create keyboard case. While it does have a lot of benefits, such as a backlit keyboard, a row of function keys, and compatibility with the MagSafe connector, there are two MAJOR drawbacks.

The first*** was a frustrating latency which constantly caused either missed keystrokes or the iPad to act as if I were holding down a key. If a keyboard can’t keep up with your typing, what’s the point? The second issue, and frankly the more critical, was the design of the Create keyboard case actually scratches the screen of your iPad Pro. I stopped using the Create case before the scratching became dramatic, but it was frustrating to look at. Luckily Apple replaced my iPad under warranty, and explained this apparently is a known issue with the case. That said…the case is still on store shelves. It looks like it has a slight redesign to accommodate the Apple Pencil, but I would personally recommend caution with that accessory.

I then tried the Zagg keyboard case, which is VERY nice. Unlike the Create keyboard, the Zagg keyboard uses bluetooth for it’s connection to the iPad and is another device that needs to be charged, however Zagg claims the keyboard will operate for an entire year on a single charge. I’m not inclined to disagree, as I never recharged the keyboard during my stint with the case. The biggest drawback for me was the size. I love my iPad Pro due to it’s thin size and light weight. The Zagg case effectively turns your iPad Pro into a Macbook. It’s not the end of the world, but it wasn’t right for me.

Ultimately I ended up with the Apple Keyboard case, and it is hands down the best of the bunch. It keeps the iPad thin and light, it is very sturdy both when closed**** and opened. Unlike the new Macbook keyboards, the Keyboard cover still feels very natural to type on. And thanks to it’s magnetic connection, it doesn’t require any type of recharging.

Long story short…the company who designed the iPad also designed the best accessories for it. Who’d have thunk it?

Software

Like every other iPad before it, the iPad Pro runs Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS10. Apple’s “Post-PC” revolution is coming into focus with this iteration however. Coupled with the huge 13” screen, the multi-tasking feature added to iOS10 is really effective. As I type this post, my email sits on the right hand side of my screen. Instead of windows, I can have two apps share the screen real estate. This enables me to be much more productive, and I find I focus on tasks much better. The only drawback is the fact that the App must support multi-tasking vs. being a function of the OS. This creates an inconsistent performance, as apps such as Facebook can only be used full screen until their developer updates them to support multi-tasking. Since this feature is over a year old, and there are multiple apps that do not support it, it can be frustrating. Hopefully Apple solves this in the near future.

The other part of the software discussion centers on third party applications. Productivity apps such as Microsoft Office, Google Apps, and iWork are near twins of their desktop counterparts. I can easily open a spreadsheet, create a professional document or build a slide deck complete with animations without an issue. Where the iPad apps truly shine however is in the photo manipulation apps such as FaceTune. Coupled with the Apple Pencil, I can modify and clean up my photos with precision and an interface which never felt natural on the computer and mouse combo.

Summary

For most users, consumer or business, the iPad has effectively become a computer replacement. You can both create and consume content on the device. You can use it as a tablet on an airplane or as a full computer at your desk. And with battery life that can easily get you through the day, you don’t need to worry about finding a table with a power outlet at the coffee shop or airport.

Do you have an iPad Pro? Share your thoughts below!


 

* I clutch this thing like a newborn, so there’s zero chance of this happening. But for you non-geeks out there, it’s a nice feature to have.

** The magnet holding the cover in the closed position was always too weak in my opinion to keep the screen protected. I did however absolutely LOVE my brown leather Apple SmartCASE for my old iPad Air. It was outstanding both in looks and functionality.

*** This admittedly may have been solved with a software update since I returned the Create. Your mileage may vary.

**** I think the keyboard folded under the smart cover allowed Apple to use a stronger magnet. The Keyboard cover stays firmly in place over the screen, while the plain old SmartCover did not in my past experience.

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