Joseph's Early Christmas Present: An iPad Pro Review

In preparation for the move, Joe downgraded his computer set-up. A desktop with tower and two monitors is a bit unwieldy for international travel. So, he sold the whole kit and caboodle a couple of months ago and we've been sharing my laptop ever since.  

But last week, he bit the bullet and purchased an iPad Pro. His reasonings for this purchase include:

  • the iPad is a much better travel companion than desktop computer
  • now we won't have to bother one another to get a turn on the laptop
  • the iPad Pro & Apple Pencil combo will enable & motivate Caitlin to get serious about trying freelance graphic design
  • he gets to try out a cool new toy
  • and my favorite: it doubles as a Christmas present!

Since we've been using the thing non-stop now for the better part of a week, Joe has put together some thoughts into a thorough review of the iPad Pro. His thoughts below!

    iPad Pro Review

    Caitlin has always talked about wanting to do freelance work but felt like she needed certain tools to get started: an Adobe Creative Cloud account and a Wacom Tablet. Well, after hours of YouTube and online research, it seems that the iPad Pro is a great Wacom Tablet replacement  and - of course - doubles as an iPad.



    To my surprise, aside from a few light sketches from Caitlin, I have mostly been using the iPad Pro for my own use. I had always felt that the iPad line up was a bit silly and the iPad Pro was the worst due to its $799 price tag. But after spending a few hours using it I am totally sold on the iPad Pro.

    Look and Feel

    The iPad Pro is typical Apple top-notch build quality. It's offered in 3 colors: silver, space gray, and gold. Aside from it's sheer size, the Pro looks just like a normal iPad. One thing I keep noticing is how light the device is. We have the Apple Smart Cover, which lets you stand the tablet up or put it at a angle for typing. So, most of my use comes from standing the iPad up while I relax on the couch. You start to forget the thing is resting on your legs after a few minutes.

    Three available colors

    Display

    From an Average Joe point of view, the display is without fault. The 12.9" Retina display size is spot on: not too big, not too small. The backlight is very bright and colors look great. When it comes to watching YouTube clips or movies, I am never left disappointed. Web browsing is also nice due to the accurate colors and website sizing from Safari.

    Another thing we've been experimenting with, and loving, is using the iPad as an external monitor for the MacBook Pro. We've been using an app called Duet. If you want to nerd out over tech specs, this site is great for in depth display reviews.

    Some dual display action with the Duet App

    Sound

    The iPad Pro has not 1, not 2, but 4 speakers, which (trust me) makes a huge difference. This is the first device to have it's speaker housings machined directly into the unibody enclosure, which gives 61% more back volume compared to previous iPad audio designs with up to 3x more output than any other iPad. The sound is loud and very clear. You could easily host a FaceTime “meeting” with the way the iPad can fill a room with sound. Which we did, by the way! When Caitlin’s sister FaceTimed us from San Francisco when we were baking Christmas cookies with family friends.

    Performance 

    From what I read, the Apple A9x chip is close to desktop-class performance including graphics. What does this mean for day-to-day use? Nothing, other than it's FAST. When developers really start using all the power this chip has, owners of the iPad Pro will be in for a treat. I have yet to notice any slowdown or lag. Its super smooth no matter what you throw at it, including a host of Adobe apps for professionals . I am not much of a mobile gamer, so I have no feedback on gaming but I am sure its great [editor's note: Two Dots works great, though :)]. If you’re looking for benchmarks, check out Engadget's iPad Pro review here!

    Operating system

    Like any i-device, the iPad Pro runs iOS. Now, this is my first time using iOS on a tablet, which is a bit different from iOS on the iPhone. The stand-out difference is side-by-side multitasking and the ability to view videos as picture-in-picture while moving the video window around the screen on top of other apps.

    Multitasking panes

    I have yet to find a practical use for running two apps side-by-side other than using a messaging app open so I don’t have to leave what I'm doing every time I want to read/reply to a message.  I would love to run two Safari panes at the same time but that is not supported [note: there is an app called Sidefari to do this]. I also see the YouTube & Netflix apps do not support multitasking or picture-in-picture video play. I would assume they will update their apps to support this in the future. 

    So side-by-side multitasking will get better as Apple and other developers update apps.  Is this enough to make this a laptop replacement? Not in my world. But if all you do is internet, email, and YouTube, then maybe ,yes.

    Case

    Apple makes 3 cases for the iPad Pro: 

    • The Silicone Case which just covers the back for $79
    • The Smart Keyboard for $169
    • The Smart Cover for $59. 

    I was close to getting the keyboard case but, in truth, I didn’t love the way it typed or looked when closed. It's kind of a flop in my opinion, but I am sure they will sell like hotcakes.

    The back of the iPad Pro really doesn’t need protection if you ask me, so I didn’t even look at the Silicone Case. Which brings us to the one I did buy: the Smart Cover. I am LOVING it. Being able to quickly turn the case into a stand and prop the tablet up make’s it great for viewing content whether on your lap or a table. Also, because of it's size, the on-screen keyboard is very usable. So, you can use the Smart Cover to angle the iPad Pro for typing - another reason I didn't opt for the keyboard case.

    Battery life

    The iPad Pro battery is big; it has a built-in 38.5-watt-hour rechargeable lithium-polymer battery with up to 10 hours of battery life. 

    I have yet to have it die on me when on the go. I will say, because the battery is so big, it does take awhile to charge - even when using the included 12w power brick charger. But, if you toss it on the charger overnight, it should last you the whole day.

    Apple Pencil

    Apple Pencil

    Apple Pencil

    One of the reasons I choose the iPad Pro was for Caitlin to be able to use the Apple Pencil. Unfortunately, when we got the Pro, the Pencil was on backorder. So, we got a stylus from a company called 53 to hold us over until we got the real deal.

    So how much better is the Apple Pencil compared to the Pencil from 53? Here is what Caitlin had to say about it:

    The 53 Pencil works very well. It has heft in the hand, and a nice broad side for different strokes. Though I didn’t love the flat shape of it for extended use. It’s also super easy to pair with the Paper 53 app. The Paper app is rich and wonderful to play around in! Still, I’ve never had much success with styli as replacement for paper & pencil and the 53 Pencil is no different.

    I haven’t had much time with the Apple Pencil. But from what time I did have, I was thrilled. The weight of it is just right, the size & shape is familiar, and, most importantly, it feels surprisingly natural when the tip meets the tablet screen. I’m really excited to start using it regularly.

    We downloaded an app called Astropad, which is similar to the Duet app, but is designed for doing art. With Astropad, the iPad mirrors the primary monitor, essentially turning the program into a touchscreen for use with the Pencil. 

    A couple of doodles Caitlin did with Adobe Sketch and 53 Pencil on the iPad Pro this week:

    Overview



    I am still in shock about how much I am enjoying the iPad Pro. Coming from a household of just one computer, when Caitlin is using the laptop, I find using the iPad Pro to be much preferable to just using my iPhone. The Smart Cover really shines and makes all the difference in the world for day-to-day use. Unless I need to run an OS X application, the iPad Pro more than holds me over until Caitlin is off the MacBook Pro.

    Disclosure: Links to Amazon are affiliate links, which means if you end up buying from Amazon I could earn some pocket money at zero cost to you!