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iPad Pro 10.5", 2017





Ankhanu
​Until June, I'd been running a 4th or 5th gen iPad Air for a few years, and, while fine for basic consumption, was starting to show its age as a computer. The basic iPad has barely been a functional productivity device through most of its run, I've always wanted it and iOS to do a bit more than it seems to want to... but the iPad Pro, with Apple Pencil, has changed the game a bit.

I wanted a 12.9" iPad Pro (and pencil) since it was announced two years ago, for the promise of better work capability, and art possibilities... but, at that point, my old iPad was only a year or so old at the time - too soon to replace a tablet. Since then, there was a 9.7" iPad Pro released, but, again, too soon for me to replace... This June, however, they finally updated the iPad Pro line, removing the 9.7", and introducing a 10.5". Now was my time!

I've been running the 10.5" iPad Pro since about mid-June, with the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard, and testing it out as a productivity computer. So far, I've been fairly happy with it, though there are still some big limitations on what it can do, or do well (NOTE - iOS 11, to be released this fall will help with several of those limitations, based on the Betas). The A10X CPU offers plenty of power and speed - it's faster than many x86 CPUs, eating very little power. The increase in screen size is seemingly small, but it does make a big difference, and is a nice compromise of portability and productivity, especially compared to the large size of the 12.9", which can feel excessive in a lot of basic uses. Where the 10.5 comes short versus the 12.9 is in multitasking. In landscape orientation, the 12.9 will split screen to two side-by-side normal iPad apps in portrait mode, which offers certain advantages in interface/control. The 10.5, on the other hand, split screens to two iPhone formatted apps, which imposes a couple limitations and functions.

The new iPad Pros have updated display and Pencil refresh rates - basic display is doubled from 60Hz to 120Hz, and Pencil tracking goes from 120Hz to 240Hz... these things are damn smooth. The first generation of Pros were pretty impressive; really they had about the best stylus tracking on the market, and that was, to me, JUST adequate performance. The tracking and refresh on the new units is almost like writing/drawing on (really smooth) paper. The battery in the Pencil hasn't hit me with any real issues yet; it lasts as long as I've needed it to through a day of work, and charges fairly rapidly (off of the iPad, an iPhone, or with a converter from a lightning cable). It's a bit long for a stylus, IMO, but, the weight is quite comfortable.

I've been able to do various writing and notetaking work with the iPad Pro in the time that I've had it, and it works quite well for these tasks. I've been using Notability for most of my handwritten note taking, and it works delightfully well; particularly for writing on PDFs. It doesn't include writing to text conversion, however. I'm testing Nebo for this, but haven't really had opportunity to run it through its paces since I installed it... it seems like it should be fairly capable. I've been using Procreate for art, and it is quite excellent. I have yet to use the iPad Pro for music recording, but I expect it to work well, though I may have to look into some new DACs compatible with Lightning connectors.
TL;DR, I quite like my new 10.5" iPad Pro Razz
deanhills
Brilliant review @Ankhanu. I didn't realize all of the things the iPad Pro of today can do vs the one I'd tried a few years back. I also didn't realize people were doing handwritten as much. That must make it pretty unique for you. Also interesting for me as I wouldn't know how to do handwritten any longer as over the years I've just got with keyboard so much - like an extension of my thinking cap. I didn't realize there were people who still prefer hand written and converting hand written to typed.

I'm curious. As I'm sure you'd have got the best deal. How much did it cost to replace your old iPad and did you sell your old iPad?
Ankhanu
A kitted out iPad Pro will easily land you into relatively expensive laptop territory. The unit itself (256Gb) was $1000, the Smart Keyboard cover was $220, and the Pencil is $130 Canadian; so about $1300 together. It's not small money, but, the keyboard cover isn't a must, but, without the Pencil, why bother with a Pro??

I didn't mention the keyboard cover; it's a bit bigger than the old 9.5" Pro keyboard cover, JUST reaching full keyboard size classification. The keyswitches work well, and it does the job pretty nicely; there could be a little more adjustment in the keyboard/screen angle, but the standard setup is ok in most situations. The key feel is... not fantastic, but not too bad, really. All of Apple's current laptop/ipad keyboards are a bit shallow and weird, but you get used to it. The keyboard cover is a little bit bulky, but, all together the keyboard and iPad are still quite slim and light.

I've primarily been using handwriting for note-taking in meetings, and for marking up RPG character sheets. Any real, or formal, writing I would still default to the keyboard - accuracy, speed, and general input fidelity are just better with keys. That said, in the situations where I use handwriting, using a keyboard setup would generally be out of place and distracting for other coworkers.
deanhills
Ankhanu wrote:
That said, in the situations where I use handwriting, using a keyboard setup would generally be out of place and distracting for other coworkers.
That definitely makes great sense. Usually they take in tape recorders and as you said, make notes. This sounds like a brilliant short cut. I can imagine in your line of work it must help a lot to save time.
restonpiston
Too expensive for my budget, but if had the money I would definetly buy it.
Ankhanu
I totally get that. I've been spending a lot on my computers/electronics for a long time... and I still can't afford it Razz My first laptop was about $2000 (around 2004), and I've spent at least that on every one since, moving from Dell to Apple Razz There are some comparable tablets out there (both android and Windows), but, the OS or performance compromises are greater than I want to spend money on... and they're really no cheaper than the iPad Pros for the quality ones. That's entirely a personal preference thing, though; I know plenty of people who find iOS too full of compromises to have any interest in Apple devices.

Of course, there's the recognition that any of these things are luxuries, and almost completely unnecessary purchases. That can really sway the equation, particularly when any purchase requires months of saving.
deanhills
I've always admired people using tablets, as for me they are one step ahead of smart phone and desktop phone users. Like their electronics are part of their lives and I can just imagine your tablet having a million daily uses. Mind you, my sister is a tablet user probably only because I gifted her one so she could get into electronics. In the end she created a Facebook tablet out of it. She finds the tablet very convenient for browsing Facebook while she is watching TV at the same time after dinner.

Between her and my brother and law they also have a much used Kindle for reading books.

I tried an ipad air 2 (i think it was) two years ago. It was a spare one at work and I thought to try it out and see whether I could see justification for getting my own. It hadn't been used by the Department and I was checking whether it was still working, which typically Apple, once I had charged it a little, it immediately worked. I only used it once and found it very useful when I was attending a course. But after a while when I noticed I wasn't using it found someone who said they would like to have it. But never used it either. He found his laptop still easier to use for field research. With the next course that came up I used a Sony laptop of the Department and somehow found it easier to use and set up. I guess it depends what one is used to and maybe desktop and laptop is what I'm used to.
Ankhanu
Well, iOS 11 was rolled out nearly two weeks ago, and 11.0.1 last week... and it's brought along some sweeping changes for iPad, less for iPhone. It's completely changed multitasking, introduced drag and drop, integrated Files app, and a bunch of other updates. iPad now has a dock, similar to the one in macOS, changed some of the gestures for multitasking, simplifying multitasking, and app switching. It's a pretty nice change to the interface. So far I'm pretty pleased with the changes, though some are taking some getting used to.

deanhills wrote:
... my sister is a tablet user probably only because I gifted her one so she could get into electronics. In the end she created a Facebook tablet out of it. She finds the tablet very convenient for browsing Facebook while she is watching TV at the same time after dinner.

This is really the main way people use tablets; for most they are simply consumption devices. For most people, something like an iPad Pro is a complete waste of money, they will not use its capabilities... something like a iPad, android tablet of some sort, or the like will work just fine, and they won't be paying for powerful features they don't need.

deanhills wrote:
I tried an ipad air 2 (i think it was) two years ago. It was a spare one at work and I thought to try it out and see whether I could see justification for getting my own. It hadn't been used by the Department and I was checking whether it was still working, which typically Apple, once I had charged it a little, it immediately worked. I only used it once and found it very useful when I was attending a course. But after a while when I noticed I wasn't using it found someone who said they would like to have it. But never used it either. He found his laptop still easier to use for field research. With the next course that came up I used a Sony laptop of the Department and somehow found it easier to use and set up. I guess it depends what one is used to and maybe desktop and laptop is what I'm used to.

Use case is REALLY important for whether a given device is good or appropriate. There are still lots of cases where a tablet just isn't gonna cut it... hell, even where a laptop isn't going to cut it.
That said, for iPad, starting with iOS 9 (2015), the capability to do actual work has increased considerably. The OS is now much better for multitasking, and allowing apps more capability to integrate with services, and one another. iOS 11, released a couple weeks ago, improves things even more, integrating inter-app/service drag and drop, better multitasking and app switching, etc. Many apps still need to be updated to better work with the upgrades, but already there are some important key apps that have integrated (Google apps being a notable exception, but, that's all on Google). The iOS computing experience today is significantly different from two/three years ago.
deanhills
Ankhanu wrote:

That said, for iPad, starting with iOS 9 (2015), the capability to do actual work has increased considerably. The OS is now much better for multitasking, and allowing apps more capability to integrate with services, and one another. iOS 11, released a couple weeks ago, improves things even more, integrating inter-app/service drag and drop, better multitasking and app switching, etc. Many apps still need to be updated to better work with the upgrades, but already there are some important key apps that have integrated (Google apps being a notable exception, but, that's all on Google). The iOS computing experience today is significantly different from two/three years ago.
I notice more and more laptops that double up as tablets - convertible. Although I'm not so sure it is necessarily either a good laptop or a good tablet.
Ankhanu
IMO, they’re usually big compromises, though I’ve heard great things about one of the current MS Surface convertibles. In general, though, unless you’re dropping big money, you’re better off with one or the other.
deanhills
Ankhanu wrote:
IMO, they’re usually big compromises, though I’ve heard great things about one of the current MS Surface convertibles. In general, though, unless you’re dropping big money, you’re better off with one or the other.
Totally agreed. it's like the proverbial sleeper couch, it's neither really good for sleeping nor good for sitting on. Razz

Must say the Microsoft Surface Pro seems to fill the gap to a certain extent, but it's enormously expensive for a laptop, and still doesn't have all of the qualities that a professional iPad top of the range has.
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