The iPad Pro turns the corner

For the last few years I have had, in addition to my trusty MacBook Pro laptop, an Apple iPad of some variety.  The first one I had was a first generation iPad (I had actually bought for my wife shortly after it was introduced to the world). Magical, yes, but woefully underpowered and turned into a web-surfing machine fairly quickly.  It would crash often from my overloading it’s tiny RAM brain with too much at once.  While deployed in Kuwait I scraped and saved and bought a shiny new iPad 4. Yes, iPad 4 was a thing. It was much more capable, had a lighting connector with a ton of RAM and a glorious Retina display.  But it was temperamental.  Downloads and syncing were painfully slow and it too devolved into a book, magazine, news web surfing machine…an aggravating one at best by the time iOS 10 came out.

So last weekend, in my last gasp to see if Apple could make a tablet I could actually use for more than entertainment, I took the plunge and purchased a shiny new iPad Pro 10.5“.  The allure of the large but not too large screen and keyboard drew me in.  After using it for the last week and taking a small trip cross country I though I would share my impressions. (Disclaimer, I am not getting paid for any endorsements…this is my honest first impressions)

iPad Pro: The Good

Weighing in at just over a pound the iPad is a comfortable machine.  It’s almost the same size as my iPad 4 but the True Tone Retina screen is noticeably larger and it’s half the width.  Unlike my iPad 4, the screen has an anti reflective coating.  At 9.8″ (250.6mm) x 6.8″ (174.1mm) it fits comfortably in my bag or backpack.  

Oddly, it has a headphone jack. I was expecting it to not have on since, well…Apple declared war on headphone jacks didn’t they?  But it has an amazing 4-speaker array that blares out sound making watch a movie very easy and enjoyable when in a hotel room or noisy airport terminal.  The Touch ID sensor is incredibly fast as well. 

The A10X Fusion chip. Incredibly fast. I’d argue that this iPad is faster than my 2016 MacBook with the Intel i5 CPU.  Specs say the camera is good but I don’t really use my iPad to take pictures or 4K video…wait, what? 4K video. Wow.

WiFi is blazing fast dual-band 802.11a a/b/g/n/ac MIMO.  It took mere seconds to download a 5GB movie from iTunes.  This time I opted to get a WiFi only model to save some money since I can HotSpot network just about anyplace I am.

Battery life is impressive, but like any other iOS device, the more you use the internet or video the faster it will drain out.  Apple claims up to 10 hours…I haven’t tracked it but it seems like it is pretty close.

Restoring from my iCloud backup image took about 10 minutes in total.  Amazingly fast compared to the iPad 4.

The Apple Pencil…Unbeleivable how cool and useful this tool is. I almost did not buy it (I can be cheap) but it is well worth the $99 Apple charged me. I’ve tried other stylus on my iPad 4 and this is by far the best engineered one I’ve used.

Professional Applications work great.  MS Office, iWork Suite, Procreate, you name it. Everything is super fast and effiecient just like on a laptop or desktop PC.  The experience is pretty remarkable considering where the iPad was a few years ago.

iPad Pro: the Bad

So some bad about it.  The operating temperature range is not so great if you travel a lot.  32F to 95F is good range, but even here in Georgia it can get hotter than that and it will shut down at 113F. Forget taking this to the desert for an extended trip.

The viewing angle of the smart-keyboard is great. It works very effectively on an Airplane tray-table. But if you use it on you lap, like I do it seems a bit uncomfortable and strained.  You may want to skip the smart-keyboard if you are a lap/couch/bed user.  

Charging the Apple Pencil means taking off a cap and inserting the end of it into the iPad’s lightening connector.  So your 9.8″ laptop now needs and additional 6 inches to the right for the pencil to stand out and charge. Seems like Apple could have engineered a more elegant solution that.  Oh, and there is no clip or holder for the Apple Pencil out of the box…meaning you have to find one on Amazon or risk watching it roll off the tray table onto the floor and kicked around by the flight attendant.

Apps in the App Store need to catch up. Applications for iPads have been optimized for a non-optimized tablet.  Some app developers need to update their code and make it more “productive” to take advantage of this powerful…i was going to say tablet but it is really more of a computer now.

Would I do it again?

OMG Yes.  I was about to jump the shark and leave Apple iPads behind and try something else. While a bit pricey the iPad Pro is increasingly solid, fast, clear, and easy to adapt to.  With the addition of the keyboard it is for all practical purposes a computer for basic tasks that you would use on the road.  It does not replace my laptop for complex tasks like VPN, enterprise email, virtual appliances, etc… but I don’t want it to. Unlike my laptop it lets me focus on my task at hand and not get easily distracted. Apple Pencil is the icing on the cake letting my creative side leak out when things are quite.

Overall if you are in the market for a new Tablet or iPad replacement, take a serious look at the new iPad Pro series. I think you’ll like what you see. Watch our store for iPad products and accessories.

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