iPad Pro 9.7" Review

Discussion in 'iPad' started by Ixidor, Apr 21, 2016.

  1. Ixidor, Apr 21, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2016

    Ixidor macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2016
    #1
    I got my iPad Pro the day it was released and have been using it regularly since then, mainly for work (I'm a Ph.D. student in engineering) and the iPad Pro has been an awesome companion device. I thought that I would pen down some of my thoughts.

    I should also mention that I currently use my Surface Pro 4 (mid range, i5, 256 gb storage, 8 gb RAM) and I previously used an iPad Air 2 and an iPad Mini 4.

    Firstly, the SP4 is an awesome device and it is a tablet that has functioned as my primary computer since it was released. I have a surface dock that transforms the tablet into a full work station at my office. It is an amazing tablet that does everything I need: solving equations using the surface pen, complex excel spreadsheets, has a trackpad, writing research papers, note taking, image editing and whatever research related software that I need in my particular project. I also tutor a class for a university subject and I prepare for these classes using the SP 4. I then teach using the iPad Mini 4 since I can carry it with one hand.

    As a tablet though, the SP4 has many drawbacks. Unless I'm at my desk, the battery life lasts only about half a work day. It's heavy and unwieldy to be used as a portable notebook. I often have to dial down the device settings and even throttle the CPU in order for it to be used while on the move/traveling. If I have to bring the charging brick with me, it negates the point of having a lightweight tablet in the first place.

    So instead of carrying a charger, I've found that the iPad Air 2 does a good job as a companion device. I use the Brydge Air or Logitech Keys to Go Bluetooth keyboards. That way, I can move around with my iPad and do most light computing on it (not to mention, access to a cellular network helps tremendously). The battery is awesome and I never worry about not having enough power. The main drawback I've felt with the iPad is that I cannot write full research papers on it (unless there is an app that can do "cite while you write" that I don't know of. iOS endnote doesn't support it) and there is no point buying a stylus for it since the SP 4's surface pen will give me a better writing experience.

    So when the iPad Pro 9.7" was released, I bought it mainly for the Apple Pencil but I also got the Smart Keyboard. I can't notice a difference in performance as compared to the iPad Air 2 in the light computing tasks that I do. However, the Apple Pencil allows me to move all handwriting related work away from the SP4. As far as writing and drawing are concerned, the Apple Pencil really trumps the Surface Pen. But the main issue I have is that I don't like the lack of an eraser on the Apple Pencil, but that's a small issue... It's just that I got used to flipping around the Surface Pen when I need to erase something. The portability of the device makes iPad Pro a superior note taking tablet as compared to the Surface Pro.

    The Smart Keyboard is a very good accessory. Something that I like because it really helps with the portability aspect of the iPad Pro. I can easily fold the keyboard behind the iPad to use it as a tablet comfortably (unlike the SP4 where I prefer to detach the keyboard because I don't like the keys clicking from behind the tablet). It's thin and light making it very practical for mobility. The lack of shortcut keys, poor but usable lap-ability, and a single standing angle all annoy me a little but are trade offs I'm willing to make. Not using Bluetooth has its perks too.

    Conversely, the Brydge Air keyboard is far more comfortable to type on, provides lap-ability and screen angles like a laptop. The downside is that I have to remove the keyboard if I want to use the iPad as a tablet. Which is fine in most situations but very inconvenient if I am on the move.

    The point is, I use the Brydge Air or the Smart Keyboard depending on my workload for the day and the amount of stuff I am carrying in my backpack (the Brydge Air is heavier). However, is the Smart Keyboard a reason to upgrade to the iPad Pro? Definitely not since I was perfectly happy using my Brydgeair with my iPad Air 2 most of the time. However, if you own an iPad Pro for other reasons, the additional mobility provided by the Smart Keyboard is hard to pass up.

    I definitely didn't need to upgrade to the iPad Pro since the SP 4 and the Air 2 were both capable of doing everything I needed for my work. The main benefit I get using the iPad Pro is simply moving all handwriting work over from the SP4 to the iPad which gives me more portability. Most of my work is stored in cloud storage so I transfer between devices somewhat seamlessly.

    Just my two cents worth on these devices. Not all workloads can be transferred to the iPad. If there is a step in your workflow that requires a traditional OS, you are going to need a laptop or a desktop. If this is you, the SP4 is an amazing catch-all device. It will do everything you will ever need done with the main problem being the battery. My wife has a MacBook Air but I would pick the SP4 over the Air (or any Mac) mainly because I get to use it as a tablet with good handwriting/drawing capabilities. Lap-ability isn't great but doable.

    If you already have a main computer (e.g. An iMac, MacBook, laptop, desktop), then the iPad Pro or Air 2 is very nice addition for portability (the former if you need to write/draw by hand). My workflow would've been completely fine with a desktop + iPad Pro.

    As of now, the iPad Pro/Air 2 are both excellent companion devices. If there is one thing I wish the iPad could do, it'll be to do a "cite while you write" word document. If there is an app that can do that, do let me know. If I can type full length research papers on the iPad, it'll be able to become my primary device since this constitutes the bulk of my workload.
     
  2. Lobwedgephil macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2012
    #2
    Thanks for your thoughts, good to see that it is working for you.
     
  3. Nhwhazup macrumors 68000

    Nhwhazup

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2010
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    #3
    I have had numerous iPads since the original one. This one is my favorite by far. I really like the addition of the Smart Keyboard and the Pencil. They have made my experience new again.

    I use my iPad Pro 9.7 in conjunction with my work PC. I use the iPad for my task management with the Informant app. I also have stopped using a pad and pen for taking notes at meetings. I don't have cell service or wifi ability for my iPad at work so I use the Airstash to share files between the PC and iPad. What I really like is that I have everything at my fingertips, all the time when traveling. So if I get a call for something, I can get to it quickly and respond.

    Outside of work I have a MacBookPro which I rarely ever use. My son in law got a new MacBook and when he asked me how to do a right click on the touchpad, I really had to think about it - that's how long it's been since I've used it.

    My iPhone 6S Plus and iPad Pro 9.7 are truly the best models that I've had through Apple.
     
  4. Hevelius macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2013
    #4
    I'm really torn as to whether to get the ASK for my 9.7 Pro. For every positive post I come across (like the OP) there's someone else who hates it. Also, the majority of usage would probably be in in my lap so 'lap-ability' is fairly important to me.
     
  5. Nhwhazup macrumors 68000

    Nhwhazup

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2010
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    #5
    I use it in my lap sitting in my recliner all the time. I think a separate keyboard such as keys to go would be more difficult to finagle on the lap.

    You should try the keyboard a the Apple Store to see if you like it. At first I was missing my prior Logitech keyboard cover but I really like the feel of the ASK keys when typing and also the light weight of it. I'm now learning to use the short cut command keystrokes which will make it even better. One complaint from others is lack of backlighting. That's never been an option that mattered to me but others find it important. I am fine with the charcoal gray color but would have selected white if it was an option. I'm super happy to be able to keep my iPad Pro lightweight and flexible with the ASK and a matte back skin.
     
  6. ukpetey macrumors regular

    ukpetey

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2008
    Location:
    Durham, England
    #6
    Is it really as good or as easy as paper and pen would be? If so then I'm very interested. May have to make the long trip to the Apple Store to try it out!
     
  7. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    #7
    Nice review! Sounds like we have a lot of similar equipment and uses - although I don't have a need for writing with citations.

    I also have a Surface Pro 3 as my work computer with a docking station. I have much of the same impression as you - it's a good laptop - I have the new type-cover with fingerprint reader - and when the battery recently died out of warranty and I had to make the decision whether to put $450 into another Surface or into something else, I came close to going back to a regular laptop, but ultimately stuck with the Surface because when it came down to it, there is nothing else out there that has quite the same combination of size, weight, screen quality (and, importantly, aspect ratio), better than average keyboard and trackpad. The stylus is just a side benefit to me at this point - I use it primarily as a laptop.

    With the iPad Pro, the stylus is finally what I've been waiting years for. A stylus that actually feels completely natural, and never makes me feel like I'm fighting it. It's the first stylus device I feel confident I can pick up to jot down a quick note any time I want without the risk of the stylus, computer, or software getting in the way somehow. I accepted the Surface as it was the best option available for the last couple of years, but the reality is that I prefer a companion device - a notebook replacement - and the iPP does a better job of this than the Surface.

    I have the Apple keyboard, and it's ok, and I probably won't get anything else. I really have found that I value having a light keyboard that is always available over having a better keyboard that is much heavier. The Brydge Air looks to be the best of the current available options, however. I see they have not updated the magnetic system to be fully compatible with the new Pro, however.
     
  8. Krevnik macrumors 68040

    Krevnik

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2003
    #8
    It does for me. But I do still keep a couple Jottbooks (a Cahier style notebook) around (one work, one personal) so I can take throwaway notes while working on some task, or take into places where the iPad isn't welcome or doesn't fit. I do either transcribe those pages or mark them as throwaway every so often. But either way, my iPad is where my long term "pages" of notes, design sketches, etc all wind up. So far, I think I've used a dozen pages in my work Jottbook since I got it. At home, the Jottbook has mostly turned into something to take notes for games, puzzles, etc. When I actually want to work on some design, architecture, or think about something I just did in detail either at work or home, I reach for the iPad.

    (This is similar to folks who have a master notebook and other smaller ones they use and then transcribe into the master one every so often)
     
  9. Nhwhazup macrumors 68000

    Nhwhazup

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2010
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    #9
    Absolutely as easy as a pad and pen. Even easier as you have multiple colors to use and highlighters all at your penicil. And then you can easily erase. This is all with the Notability app. You can then save your notes in folders. Seriously, haven't brought a pad or notebook to a meeting since I got my new iPad and Pencil.
     
  10. Ixidor thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2016
    #10
    If all you need is to take notes, the iPad Pro and Surface are both very good (I might even lean towards the Surface Pen because the eraser tip feels very natural as you get a "rubbing" texture while using it).

    If you intend to sketch however, the Apple Pencil is just miles better than the Surface Pen since the Apple Pencil does a very good job simulating a pencil (tilting the pencil and adjusting the pressure to give different shades of grey). And you have so many drawing apps available on iOS that is optimised for the Apple Pencil.

    I personally use OneNote as my notebook (for research and teaching). In this case, the app seems more optimised for the Surface Pen than the Apple Pencil since I get a little more palm rejection issues with the Apple Pencil.
     
  11. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    #11
    Palm rejection issues have been fixed in iOS OneNote with a recent update, but the overall ink quality still lags behind. I don't draw more than sketches, but far prefer the Pencil for writing than my Surface Pro 3. It just feels much more natural and my handwriting comes out looking a lot more like my own on the iPP.
     
  12. Ixidor thread starter macrumors regular

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    Mar 22, 2016
    #12
    @zhenya

    Cool, that's good to know. Glad to know that it's a software problem.
     
  13. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    #13
    They also just fixed the bug where the 'Draw with finger' setting would keep resetting itself to 'on' which was aggravating!
     
  14. Mcdevidr macrumors 6502a

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    Nov 27, 2013
    #14
    Seems there is a lot of money in being a student these days.
     
  15. Ixidor thread starter macrumors regular

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    Mar 22, 2016
    #15
    Most PhD students get paid to do their research. It's kinda like a (underpaid) full time job.

    Other part time jobs on the side like tutoring can pay quite well too.
     
  16. Mcdevidr macrumors 6502a

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    Nov 27, 2013
    #16
    I know that I'm teasing. Just seems to be quite a bit of cash to drop down on gadgets as a student. Although I did the same at one point. I don't use them though like you do, I'm a musician. I don't need to render anything or calculate. Writing papers I can do on just about anything. So I ended up getting rid of most of it.
     
  17. spiderman0616 macrumors 68030

    spiderman0616

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2010
    #17
    The 9.7" iPad Pro is not only my favorite iPad ever, but also might be my favorite device in general ever. I am getting so many things accomplished on it that I used to not think were possible on an iPad. Part of that is just that iOS has evolved, and part of it is the powerful hardware. And there are days that it feels like I can't put the Apple Pencil down. I kill hours at a time with that thing.
     
  18. Ixidor thread starter macrumors regular

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    Mar 22, 2016
    #18
    Yeah you are right, it is a lot of money (my wife ain't too happy haha). The SP4 replaced my 2012 (really heavy) semi-dying laptop so it was justified. The SP4 kinda disappointed me as a tablet which led me to the iPads.

    I need to be saving up cash for the future ><.
     
  19. blasto2236 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2012
    #19
    I've not had mine for a full day just yet. I was upgrading from the iPad Air 1st gen, which was getting a bit long in th tooth and unable to use lots of new iOS features that gave me renewed interest in the iPad. I still foresee myself using this primarily as a consumption device, as I prefer my MacBook Pro for the kind of work I require it for. Still, the Pro was worth the cost difference over an Air 2 just for the Pencil support.

    I cannot say enough great things about the Pencil. I am by no means an artist, and don't need to sketch or take notes for work. But I do doodle constantly all day while taking calls to help keep me focused, and this iPad is great for that!

    I don't see myself getting a keyboard for it, or attempting to use it as a laptop replacement. But it will take a significant burden off of my MacBook as a consumption device, and hopefully increase the longevity of both devices as I spread the workload around some.

    All in all, I use my 9.7 Pro in a very different manner from you, OP, but I am just as thrilled with my purchase. I will say that I've never been interested in the Surface line because while, yes, it can replace your laptop, it cannot replace my iPad. As a tablet it fails in almost every way. As a touchscreen Windows 10 Ultrabook, it's pretty cool though.
     
  20. Mcdevidr macrumors 6502a

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    Nov 27, 2013
    #20
    Haha. Don't we all. I got lucky and gifted a device. But I need to wrap up this masters and get my butt to work.
     
  21. Ixidor thread starter macrumors regular

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    Mar 22, 2016
    #21
    Well, my SP4 is just like your MBP in this context. I see the SP4 as a decent laptop that can be used as a tablet. It doesn't give the best laptop experience, but you can use it as a tablet for taking notes and attending meetings. It's a trade off that I am okay with.

    Now that I have the iPad Pro, I'd actually prefer to have a Mac as my laptop since I don't need another "tablet". But since I already have the SP4, I'll just have to stick to it.
     
  22. Mcdevidr macrumors 6502a

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    Nov 27, 2013
    #22
    Oh come on man. Sell that SP4 and get a Mac. The wife won't mind. Haha
     
  23. blasto2236 macrumors 6502a

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    Nov 4, 2012
    #23
    ONE OF US, ONE OF US. ;)
     

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