Living with an iPad Pro

Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode #161


As I told you last week, I’ve been testing a 128GB iPad Pro with the new Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard for a couple of months, and while it won’t replace my laptop, it has quickly become my iPad of choice for a variety of reasons.

First and foremost, it’s the fastest and most powerful iPad to date. Everything feels faster than on any other iPad I own or have used.  For example, editing photos and videos is virtually lag-free, and opening and working with large documents is noticeably faster, too. 

Moving right along, its 12.9-inch Retina display is not just stunning, it also boosts productivity by displaying 78% more than an iPad Air’s 9.7-inch Retina display. This makes the iPad Pro great for just about everything you like using an iPad for — reading, videos, games, web surfing, and almost everything else. They say more is better and in this case it’s definitely true (unless you fly coach; I'll tell you more about that in a moment).   

Speaking of videos and games, the iPad Pro is the first iPad to include four separate speakers and it makes a big difference. It’s much (much) louder, with a wider frequency range and significantly better stereo separation than other iPads. I was a little surprised — it's the first iPad that actually sounds OK without attaching (or connecting wirelessly to) an external speaker. Even in an acoustically-hostile environment such as a Starbucks, it was loud and clear enough to cause people at neighboring tables to give me dirty looks. And, in quieter rooms, you’ll hear details you definitely wouldn’t hear on other iPads.

So it’s easily the best iPad ever for media consumption, but how is it for content creation? You know I’m no artist, but even I could tell that the $99 Apple Pencil -- which only works with the iPad Pro -- isn’t like any other stylus I’ve tried. It honestly feels more like using natural media — a paintbrush, marker, pencil, airbrush, or whatever — than any other stylus.

So I put the Apple Pencil and iPad Pro into the hands of just about every friend or family member who has even a shred of artistic talent; every single one of them fell in love with it after just a few minutes. For example, my son Jacob is a college student (not majoring or even minoring in art). He has little experience drawing with tablets and styli, so I launched the ArtStudio app, handed him the Apple Pencil and iPad Pro, and walked away; 20 minutes later he showed me this:

Drawing on iPad Pro My son drew this the first time he ever picked up an Apple Pencil.

It’s not a great piece of art, but it does display an impressive variety of textures, brushstrokes, and colors, especially considering Jacob had never used the app or the Apple Pencil before. My point is that it's extremely intuitive to draw with the Apple Pencil, and most people will probably be comfortable with it after only a few minutes.

Moving right along, the Smart Keyboard worked just fine and was convenient, but its keys aren’t nearly bouncy enough for me and its (non-adjustable) viewing angle usually wasn’t optimal. If I bought an iPad Pro (and I expect I will someday), I’d probably give the Smart Keyboard a pass and buy a Bluetooth keyboard with bouncier keys, a Smart Cover (or other case), and my favorite iPad stand, the incredibly-adjustable iKlip Studio, all of which shouldn't cost any more than a Smart Keyboard.

The only drawback I found in the two months I’ve been using the iPad Pro is that it’s not the right iPad for flying coach. I only did it twice, but it was just too big for the tray table both times and it was difficult (or impossible) to find a comfortable viewing angle. I ended up putting it away and using my iPhone halfway through both flights. 

Still, it's a small price to pay for an iPad I love otherwise. And while it didn’t suit my needs as a laptop replacement (see last week’s column), and it isn’t by any means cheap, the iPad Pro is easily the best and most powerful iPad I’ve used. Though I’m not in the market for a new iPad at the moment, the next one I buy will almost certainly be an iPad Pro. 


And that’s all he wrote…