I am deliberately writing this on my new iPad Pro, which is balanced on my knees. I am on a mission to see if a pro tablet can replace my laptop. It’s partly experimental, to see if the technology is truly as ready for this as all the people I know who use their iPads as their primary computer. At least one of them runs a bank.
Going (iPad) Pro
Two years ago, I bought my wife an iPad Pro 12.9-inch, with an Apple Pencil, to see how it would work for her as a lawyer. Some of her colleagues were using them and they are preferable to printing out reams of pages to mark up. For the first few months, it was a fiddly arrangement involving apps specifically designed for marking up PDFs. But quite quickly, the functionality was built into Microsoft Word, and she could mark notes or edit directly in Word documents. I suspect Apple has saved millions of trees in the legal industry alone.
I’m sitting now at a desk at Stuff Studios in Braamfontein, picking up where I had left off in my ongoing experiment to replace my laptop with this 11-inch iPad Pro, and its nifty combination of Pencil and Magic Keyboard. The keys are the same as in a MacBook and the keyboard is tactile and responsive. I find it slightly harder to type on than the bigger 13-inch MacBook-sized keyboard, which I am so used to. But I can’t say it has hindered my ability to type, especially as Word seems to compensate for typos.
The overall experience so far is very slick.
I chose the iPad Pro 11in with 256GB of storage, which I considered more than adequate. The Magic Keyboard is quite impressive in itself. The trackpad handles multiple fingertips, so you can use all the MacBook multi-touch shortcuts, and a clever interface for touching the “mouse” onto the iPad’s dock is the equivalent of pushing the home key. The keyboard is backlit nogal. You’d be surprised at how useful this is for typing on a dark plane, which is one of the scenarios I expect to see myself using this in the next few months. It would have been useful when I went to Spain to test Nissan’s new electric fleet and to New York for the Sonos Ray launch.
I got the iPad Pro with a cellular slot, along with an extra data SIM from my Vodacom RED package. It’s almost unnecessary, given how easily and slickly the iPad (or my laptop) jumps on my iPhone’s personal hotspot.
I haven’t used the Apple Pencil as much yet, but that is because I now prefer to type notes – for which this smaller physical size of the iPad is useful because it’s less intrusive on a table.
As my use case of technology changes, or the available technology changes more aptly, I am rethinking how I work and work while travelling. Is a laptop still the best option, especially if I no longer need it to it for copying from my Fuji XT-4 DSLR camera, which I use to shoot video. The iPad can solve those problems too. Because it has a USB-C port, you can transfer video to images with an SD card reader, and upload those to any cloud hosting service – just as I have always used my laptop to do. It would be different if I was editing those images or video, but I am mostly sending them to Stuff’s director Daron Chatz.
I am even wondering if I can ditch my Zoom H4n podcast recorder and two Sennheiser microphones and instead use a USB-C microphone like the Sarmonic LacMicro U3A that we have been testing. It is a clever USB-C mic for Android smartphones or most laptops, using that now-universal USB-C port.
- This article was first published on the Daily Maverick