My Father-in-Law brought his new 12.9 iPad to our house, about a month after it was released, and the moment I set the absolutely stunning screen in front of my eyes I began to see the possibilities. Unfortunately for me, the lack of access to local external storage, the inability of Lightroom to handle RAW images, and the absence of Scrivener on iOS meant the device was not a possibility for my needs.
Eight months later Scrivener has come out for iOS and Lightroom handles RAW image files, which removed two of my biggest obstacles to using the device. Having now used both Scrivener and Lightroom on my other iOS devices, the additional screen real estate and split-screen multitasking suddenly became compelling features — I decided it was time to go pro. I’ve had the device for three days now, enough to to share some first impressions.
Split-screen multitasking in iOS is wonderful 1. I’ve used the feature with a number of applications thus far — including Scrivener, Accordance, and Google Sheets — the increase in productivity it gives me is mind-boggling. I’ve used split screen multitasking in OS X since the feature was added in El Capitan, but I’ve never much cared for it. There is something about the tactile feel of sliding the apps into place on the screen which is much more satisfying than the mouse clicks needed set up my workspace on the desktop.
The 12.9 inch iPad Pro weighs about the same as the first generation iPad, which is significantly heavier than my iPad Air but not intolerably so. The device is extraordinarily well balanced in the hand and is actually quite pleasurable to hold.
Unlike my previous iPads, however, I find myself removing the Smart Keyboard Cover when I’m not using it. While the iPad isn’t intolerable to hold when the cover is folded around the back of the device, it does feel somewhat awkward. It also adds to the weight of the overall package, which makes it a little less comfortable to comfortable to hold long-term. Thankfully, removing the Keyboard cover is every bit as simple as it’s Smart Cover ancestors. Simply separate the device from the magnets which hold the cover in place.
Smart Keyboard Cover
My favorite keyboard of all time has been the previous iteration of the Apple Bluetooth keyboard. For me, the chicklet keys have the best combination of typing angle, resistance, and travel distance I’ve ever encountered. I love this keyboard so much, in fact, I had debated going with a non-keyboard cover for my iPad Pro purchase. Ultimately, the portability of the Smart Keyboard Cover led me to add one to my purchase.
The keys in the Smart Keyboard Cover use the same technology of the 12 inch MacBook keyboard, which concerned me. I find the travel distance in the MacBook keys frustratingly narrow. Typing on the MacBook, even in my short tests, makes me feel as though I’d be better off typing on glass.
The keys in the Smart Keyboard Cover, however, feel as though they have a more tolerable travel distance. The cloth cover also seems to provide more cushion then the MacBook. I’ve adjusted to typing on it’s surface quite easily, and at present I actually prefer it to my Retinal MacBook Pro keyboard — which shocks me. The keyboard setup even feels quite comfortable on my lap, which is where the iPad is currently sitting as I type these thoughts.
My one concern with the cover is durability. My older Smart Covers began a slow decline around a year and a half into use, and I fear the added stress of the keyboard keys may accelerate this process. At over $150, I hope this will not be the case.
The 12.9 inch screen is absolutely stunning, there is no other word for it. Videos, pictures, text, and games look absolutely amazing.
I have noticed some audio sync issues when I set YouTube videos to full-screen, however, which I’ve yet to figure out. Hulu+ and Netflix have no issues, however, which leads me to think it might be an encoding issue on YouTube’s end.
The four speakers on the iPad Pro are a huge step up from the tinny mono of previous models. The night I purchased the device I decided to turn up the volume on a video to test the output, and my wife burst into my room scolding me for waking up our kids!
I like it!
The night I purchased the device I was only able to charge it to 80% before I went to bed. I used the device through the entirety of the following day, and still had 20% battery life left when I went to bed. The day I wrote these thoughts, I used the device almost non-stop and stood at 52% at 8 PM. My iPad Air was all day battery, the iPad Pro is “all day and don’t even think about it” battery.
In just a couple of days, the iPad Pro has become my absolute favorite writing device. The added real estate, split screen multitasking, amazing battery life, and portable keyboard combine for a killer feature set.
With the exception of my YouTube audio sync issues, watching TV and Movies on the pro’s incredible screen is a pleasure, especially with the addition of the great audio system.
Sadly, I wasn’t able to add a pencil to my initial purchase, but will probably be acquiring on for Christmas. I love taking lecture notes via handwriting 2, and I’m looking forward to the experience of using the Pencil to do so 3.
I’ve also yet had an opportunity head out on a photo walk since I’ve purchased the device. As soon as I do, I’ll do a review on the photo import and editing process using Lightroom.
If you are a writer, however, the iPad Pro is an excellent option, especially with the recent addition of Scrivener’s iOS app.