So I’m a bit of a technophile and an early adopter. Always have been; I had a Palm M100 in 9th grade because it looked cool. Plus it helped me keep my busy schedule of drama club and homework straight. Since then, I’ve tried to get new tech sooner rather than later. Sometimes I write about it. When the iPad Pro was announced, it wasn’t something I was able to buy. But I’ve been looking for a good way to draw on a screen since my first “tablet” in 2005. Well, I was able to get the iPad Pro 10.5″ this year; so how does it stack up?
I’ll save you some time: the iPad Pro 10.5″ is 2 things to me: the best digital device I’ve ever drawn with (by a long shot) and everything I thought the original iPad should be.
The Perfect Size
When I got the first iPad, my hope was that I’d be able to drink my coffee with one hand and hold the iPad in the other. But the first iPad was too big and heavy. It was a 2-hand device. This – the iPad Pro 10.5″ – is the perfect size. It’s not too big to hold and it’s not too heavy. It still requires 2 hands to navigate, but if I have an app like Instapaper, I can use that with 1 hand. I love it!
I’m pretty happy that Apple decided to release something in the 10-11″ range. The near 13″ one seems much too big for what I would use it for and the extra space you get over the 9.7″ model makes a small but noticeable difference. All-in-all, I think this iPad is the perfect size and weight. But it’s not the main reason I bought it.
Writing on the iPad Pro 10.5″
Writing on the iPad Pro was the main event, and the primary reason I bought the Pro version. I got the Apple Pencil the day the Pro was delivered, and I opened an app I’d been using for a while: Paper by FiftyThree. I sketched this:
The experience is unmatched. I can lean my hand comfortably on the screen, there is zero lag between writing and when the markings appear, and I think it even assists my handwriting. I’ve been using the iPad primarily as a replacement for my notebooks, which is shocking to me – I never thought I’d find an experience this good. I take notes, sketch designs, and even storyboard talks on it:
I’m bringing it to WordCamp DC this weekend; we’ll see how well I can sketchnote on it.
The app I use for writing and drawing is Notability. It’s a well-made app that has a Mac app too, so it syncs between devices. I can take notes on my iPad and have Notability update so I can reference them right on my computer. It also easily exports to PDF and shares. Within 10 minutes I knew this app did everything I needed it to.
The lack of this reliable handwriting functionality is what kept me from using my old iPad every day. With the iPad Pro, I usually start my day with it, reading the news and jotting down thoughts. I’m also writing a lot more than I’m coding these days, so it got me wondering if I can manage to travel without my laptop and just bring the iPad.
Laptop Replacement – not yet
I don’t think the iPad Pro 10.5″ will be a laptop replacement for me just yet, and I think it’s due primarily to apps. I picked up a bluetooth keyboard over the weekend and really like the way it works with the iPad. My intention was to write this post completely on the iPad using the WordPress app. But the WordPress app is lacking – specifically, there’s no substitute for TinyMCE, so the only formatting I get is Bold, Italic, and Underline. No headings!
If I do find the right app (maybe iA Writer), perhaps it can be a nice substitute. I will still need a reliable way to get that content into my WordPress sites though, especially if I’m going to do things like develop course content on it.
Accessories for the iPad Pro
No iOS Device review is complete without a list of accessories I’m using for it. I went shopping a bit last week and picked up some nice things, but first, let’s go with the standard fare:
- Leather Smart Cover: Truth be told, I actually wanted the leather sleeve, but man $129 is a lot of bread for a case. Plus, when I went to the Apple Store they informed me that since the 10.5″ just came out, shopping online would be my best bet*. After some thinking, I decided to go with the Smart Cover. It works well, and is a nice companion to the keyboard I ended up buying.
- The Apple Pencil: I knew I wanted this from the moment it came out. And I’ll tell you what: $99 seems like a lot, but I’ve paid the same amount for fountain pens, and I get a lot more value out of the Apple Pencil. If you have an iPad Pro, this is a must-have accessory.
The next important purchase after these two items was a bluetooth keyboard. I find myself outside a lot, smoking a cigar and having a way to easily write on the iPad would be fantastic. Again, I wanted the Smart Keyboard made by Apple, but $159 is just too expensive IMO. The difference it makes from other keyboards in the same space just doesn’t seem worth the price (if a retailer wants to prove me wrong though, I’d gladly review it here!). I ended up going with the Arteck Stainless Steel Universal Portable Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard. This was for 3 reasons:
- I wanted to make sure I’d actually enjoy using a keyboard with the iPad Pro. $25 is a low barrier of entry
- If I do end up finding value in the Smart Keyboard or the Logitech Slim Combo when it comes out, I won’t be upset replacing a $25 keyboard
- The keyboard is a general standalone bluetooth keyboard. I can use it with other devices
Apple Pencil Accessories
With those out of the way, I wanted a few things to make transporting and charging my Apple Pencil better. I picked up these items:
- Apple Pencil Stand: This is a small device that sits on my desk and can charge the Apple Pencil. I love this because it means I know where the pencil is and it’s not rolling off my desk.
- 3-Piece Rubber Grips: These are little rubber grips that you can put on the lightning cable, tip, and cap so you don’t lose the smaller parts of the Apple Pencil
- Apple Pencil Case: I liked the hard case with extra spots for cables or headphones. Great for longer trips or if I’m tossing my bag around
- Pencil Sleeve: I haven’t used this one yet, but I liked the idea of something I can attach right to my iPad. We’ll see how well it works out.
Finally, I decided to pick up a new bag – the Lanier by Nock Co. I love their products and this is the perfect size for the iPad Pro 10.5″, keyboard, and accessories. I figured if I was truly going to try to lighten my load by subbing an iPad for my laptop at times, an appropriate bag would be nice.
The iPad Pro 10.5″ is my new Favorite Device
If you haven’t guessed it, the iPad Pro 10.5″ is my new favorite device. It’s lightweight, versatile, and can be used as a notebook or a computer. It’s everything I’ve always wanted from the iPad.
What do you think? Are there must have apps or accessories? Let me know in the comments!
*It happened to me 3 times in a week. I honestly don’t know why I try to shop in physical stores anymore.