Reflecting on Year One With the iPad Pro

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I like the feeling of being prepared, and having devices along with me is my hi-tech version of a security blanket. I always have my phone, and most of the time, I’ll want to have a device with a larger screen for writing or longer browsing sessions. For the past year, that device has been the 12.9-inch iPad Pro because it was the lightest possible companion at the time.

One of the things I was eagerly awaiting were the new MacBook Pros that Apple announced last week. My current 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro is about 3 years old at this point, and I was considering an upgrade to a newer, faster, and lighter model. For reasons of comfort, I was also thinking that, if the new MacBook Pros were light enough, a Mac may once again replace my iPad Pro as an everyday carry item. Macs support mice and trackpads and more keyboard shortcuts, so I can work on them for longer periods without feeling as much fatigue. I’d then leave the iPad at home for more home entertainment, drawing, and cooking-related tasks.

However, the lightest of the new MacBook Pros weighs in at 3 lbs., which is half a pound lighter than my current rMBP. That’s still too heavy to be forgettably light, when carried in a messenger bag with my camera.

This means the closest Mac laptop for me is actually the 12-inch MacBook. The performance level would be much less than what I’m used to on my older Retina MacBook Pro, but it would be more technically capable than my iPad Pro. The issue there is that I don’t want to own two laptops, and a 12-inch MacBook just doesn’t pack enough power to replace what I do with my Retina MacBook Pro.

So what the recent MacBook Pro announcements have done for me is make me feel a bit more pragmatic about how the iPad Pro’s weight and size fit into the current Apple computing landscape. I’ve been thinking about how to cut down on weight, but this 2 lbs. combo really is the lightest that I’m going to get with the current available technology. Without going to two laptops (a MacBook and a 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro), there isn’t anything that Apple offers that is as thin and light as the iPad Pro.

Outside of the Apple’s walled garden, I’d probably be looking at a Surface Pro 4, which is an amazing piece of tech. It’s got a large enough screen to read and write on, a great touch display for drawing when I need it, and it can pack an i7 processor in there. What’s more: I really love that flip stand that’s built right into the back, and I’d buy an iPad Pro accessory that replicated that functionality in a heartbeat. I don’t mind working with Windows 10 because I do so on a daily basis, but I think I’d really miss the amount of beautiful third-party software. It’s fairly easy to find a gorgeous app on iOS 10 or MacOS, but it takes a lot more searching to do the same on Windows. We’ve gotten to the point where Windows itself is prettier than a lot of the apps being sold for it, and that’s a little strange to me.

So for right now, even though I’m feeling a little impatient with the iPad Pro, the latest set of MacBook Pros have confirmed to me that I have the very best tech that I can have right now. I have a good tiered setup: an iPhone for going everywhere; an iPad Pro when I want to surf, write, or edit pictures; and then a MacBook Pro when I need to scale that up even more. The vast majority of the time, I don’t need to bring the MacBook Pro out of the house because the iPad Pro can handle my day-to-day tasks. Lightroom, Ulysses, Evernote, and Safari help tremendously.

However, I still have concerns about ergonomics. After a full year of doing a lot of iPad-only tasks, I’m not convinced that an iPad Pro and a Smart Keyboard are how I want to do the majority of my computing. The combination of the ultra-shallow keys and reaching up towards the screen is starting to wear on me more, and although fewer exciting new things hit macOS, I’m feeling very attracted to the comforts offered by an embedded keyboard and a trackpad. I’d really like for Apple to shake things up with an iOS 10.3 update to show us how they’re going to really make tablet computing faster and more productivity-focused.

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2 thoughts on “Reflecting on Year One With the iPad Pro”

  1. Yes an iPadPro isn’t a replacement for a laptop, not by a long way, even a Windows one, despite what Apple claim.

    Having said that, for what I use my 9 incher for, I love it. 99% of my iPadPro usage is one Microsoft app – OneNote. OneNote+iPadPro+Pencil is a fantastic combination.

    I use it for meeting notes, and for notes in presentations where I photo the slides being talked about and make noted directly on the slides. I’ve also used it to give presentations – rather using than slides – plug it into a projector and draw to convey the message.

    It’s the single most useful thing I’ve bought since my original MacSE in 1987.

  2. I’ve been using iPad Pro 12.9″ also. My experience:
    – Good: The screen is gorgeous. Viewing PDFs on the device is a thrilling experience. You can have a full page open and scaled to 100%. Annotating is a pleasure due to the screen size. Landscape mode works very well, in that applications have plenty of room within.
    – Bad: It is as heavy as my SP4. Holding it with one hand is really an exercise in exhaustion for any period of length. I think it’s not a good choice for airline travel or compactness.

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