iPad Pro iPad vs other tablets - Does iPadOS tip the balance?

maflynn

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I've been debating getting a different tablet for some time now. I'm in need of a companion device that allows me work in multiple locations without needing to drag my laptop with me.

I had narrowed my search to the Surface Go (I hate those bezels), Surface Pro and Thinkpad X1 tablet (3rd gen). For comparison sake, I created the matrix below (I used my 10.5 iPad pro instead pricing out a new one) Thanks to incentives, I can snag a Thinkpad for 1,095 (actually its at 970 thanks to a coupon code) and that's a serious temptation.

upload_2019-6-23_10-15-41.png

With the advent of iPadOS, much of the short comings of the iPad has changed, I'm trying out iPadOS right now and it is buggy, but it is a definite step in the right direction.

I think I only have a couple of days to decide if I want to spend 970 on the thinkpad tablet because of the sales ending. The advantage and disadvantage of the thinkpad is the 13" size. Holding such a device in your hands gets old pretty quick. I don't see myself holding it upright in my hands like my 10.5

The keyboard on the thinkpad is better then what I can get for the iPad, so there's that. Also using the mouse and keyboard are a better user experience on the windows tablet.

Basically the iPad works better as a tablet but the windows machines work better as a traditional computer. I think iPad OS brings the iPad closer to parity but is it enough?
 

hovscorpion12

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From what I’ve seen with iPad OS, it definitely changed the game from iOS 12. Since it is currently in a beta, not all of the functions Apple showed will work smoothly. The files app with hard drive support is a bit buggy. A lot of 3rd party developer well have to update their apps.

The multiple split screen windows is the most game changer. Has a more PC/MAC vibe.

Personally, I’d wait until iPad OS is fully released sometime in September. Apple may change the mouse icon by then.
 
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sracer

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I've been debating getting a different tablet for some time now. I'm in need of a companion device that allows me work in multiple locations without needing to drag my laptop with me.

I had narrowed my search to the Surface Go (I hate those bezels), Surface Pro and Thinkpad X1 tablet (3rd gen). For comparison sake, I created the matrix below (I used my 10.5 iPad pro instead pricing out a new one) Thanks to incentives, I can snag a Thinkpad for 1,095 (actually its at 970 thanks to a coupon code) and that's a serious temptation.

View attachment 844577

With the advent of iPadOS, much of the short comings of the iPad has changed, I'm trying out iPadOS right now and it is buggy, but it is a definite step in the right direction.

I think I only have a couple of days to decide if I want to spend 970 on the thinkpad tablet because of the sales ending. The advantage and disadvantage of the thinkpad is the 13" size. Holding such a device in your hands gets old pretty quick. I don't see myself holding it upright in my hands like my 10.5

The keyboard on the thinkpad is better then what I can get for the iPad, so there's that. Also using the mouse and keyboard are a better user experience on the windows tablet.

Basically the iPad works better as a tablet but the windows machines work better as a traditional computer. I think iPad OS brings the iPad closer to parity but is it enough?
iPad OS definitely takes a step closer to parity... but it is far from enough IMO... at least based on what we currently know about iPad OS.

The question (which only you can answer) is, how important are the things (that the iPad Pro still can't do with iPad OS) to you? How much will the lack of those things impact your workflows?

Things like: universally accessible file system, extensive support for USB peripherals, support for external/extended displays, desktop-class web browser, desktop-strength applications, access to software outside of the app store.

I mention desktop-class web browser because Apple's description of Safari in iPad OS as "desktop-strength" is misleading and not the same as running a desktop-class browser (with support for plug-ins, extensions, etc.)
 

LibbyLA

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If you ever need to run full desktop versions of software (like Office), you’ll want one of the Windows devices. If you ever need to download files, copy them to external storage, you’ll want a Windows device. The iPad is a great web surfing, media consumption device. I love the small footprint. However, when I need to get real work done on a portable device, my Surface Go (the bezels don’t bother me although I wouldn’t mind if they were narrower) is my “go to” device.

The Go is actually my portable Windows “sweet spot”. An 8” Windows tablet is too small, I had a Surface Pro 3 and then a Surface 3 and both of those were too big.

Everyone is different, so your mileage may vary.
[doublepost=1561305932][/doublepost]BTW, there will always be another sale.
 

Conan86

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I don’t think iPadOS is enough to make an iPad replace a traditional laptop even with external storage and mouse support as there are too many desktop class app that’s not available or not as powerful, unless your work purely revolves around writing and editing articles and email..

The ThinkPad X1 is a good choice, so is the Surface Pro. I’d choose the ThinkPad solely due to I/O options. I strongly advise against the Surface Go due to its lackluster processor.. Being able to watch 4K videos on YouTube is nice on a windows tablet, but other than that, surfing is best done using the tablet as a traditional laptop or with the stylus. Also, do take the battery life estimates with a huge caution, my experience is that a Windows tablet battery life in real world is much much less than advertised, possibly due to more background task like antivirus, etc..
 

DMVillain

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Jul 20, 2011
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I wanted a device for similar reasons. I was able to get a 2017 Surface Pro for the price of a Go last Black Friday.

iPadOS is a step in the right direction, but still not enough for me. For example, I needed to tag and upload mp3s to my apple music library. Can't do that in iPad OS.
 

Infinitewisdom

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Sep 23, 2012
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At the risk of basically parroting what everyone else has said, iPad OS comes close but there are enough scenarios where it just won’t cut it that I wouldn’t consider it for a companion device. It’s fine for consumption But isn’t something I’d rely on for work.
 

chikorita157

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Mar 8, 2019
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Having owned a Surface Pro 2, it's a good idea on paper, but in practice, not that great. 2 in 1 laptops are simply compromised experience that it's a jack of all trades, but master of none. Sure, the idea of running desktop apps are cool, but the experience isn't that good, especially trying to use multi-touch on an interface that is meant for a mouse and keyboard. Note that I did not buy the type cover and used it as a dedicated tablet, and it's not that good of an experience. Not only that, the lack of tablet-centric apps on Windows 8/10 is very poor. In comparison, the iPad Pro 9.7 with the iPadOS beta I am running provides a way better experience for what I use it for, mostly mobile computing such as writing word documents/blog posts, web browsing, mobile games, taking notes, etc. For everything else, I use a Macbook Pro and I do not need touch on a laptop. I don't mind carrying more than one device since they are reasonably light.

I prefer using dedicated devices over a 2-1 since it provides the best experience and tool for what I need to do. Sure, Apple will never port XCode to an iPad, but there are still strong use such as photo editing, which can take advantage of the Apple Pencil. I think iPadOS will probably affect Chromebooks more since it's way more capable and can pretty much do everything Chromebooks can do, especially since it has external storage support, and a desktop class browser without the privacy risks from using ChromeOS.
 
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dwig

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Note: I use macOS and Windows at work and Windows at home.

Comments:
  • All references to iPadOS need to be in the future tense. It doesn't exist now except in a buggy almost-a-beta form. Exactly how close to creating a level playing field it will accomplish is a bit unknown. I will likely get close enough for many users with a still significant number of limitations that will prevent some users from finding nirvana with an iPad.
  • I expect that I/O performance on older Lightning-based iPads will fall vastly short of even a Surface Go.
  • The OP's chart contains a few errors. The Surface Go's SD card slot is a microSD, the Pen/Stylus prices and keyboard prices for the two Surface products are swapped, and the Surface keyboard prices are for the "deluxe" versions with the suede-like Alcantara skin rather than the basic versions that use a still very nice microfiber fabric skin at ~$30USD less.
My personal setup is a "big Dell" i7 XPS box plus a portable device, currently a Surface Go (8Gb/128Gb/Keyboard +128Gb mSD). I'm finding that most (~90%) of my use of the big Dell has been quite sucessfully replaced by the Go used with a USB-C hub to connect to power, mouse, and 23" monitor (extended, so I can use both it and the internal for separate app windows). I also switch to using a BT keyboard (Logitech K380, which is also used with the Dell desktop and my old Venue 8 Pro).

I think that the more you want a notebook replacement, the more likely you'll find a Surface or Windows-based competitor (ultrabook, 2-in-1, ...) thet more useful choice. If you just want/need a "super tablet", the iPads will more likely be the better choice.
 

Khedron

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The balance is decided by how convenient it will be to travel to an Apple store every 3 months to have your broken touchscreen replaced while Apple employees act surprised every single time
 

maflynn

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The Go is actually my portable Windows “sweet spot”. An 8” Windows tablet is too small, I had a Surface Pro 3 and then a Surface 3 and both of those were too big.
Yeah, I keep going back to the 10" (or 10.5 with the iPad) as the best size for a companion device. I have a laptop so I don't need a Surface Pro or a ThinkPad X1 tablet, but give the pricing of the Surface Go, I'm looking at 700 dollars or so for fully fitted product, where as the Thinkpad with promotions is coming in at 200+ over that but has a larger screen, better CPU, more ram, storage and a better keyboard. YET will the form factor be too much, and I'm thinking using a 13" display as a tablet is too big. I thought that when I owned and returned a 12" iPad Pro, nothing as really changed since I did that, so it may be too much

The balance is decided by how convenient it will be to travel to an Apple store every 3 months to have your broken touchscreen replaced while Apple employees act surprised every single time
I've had my iPad Pro since 2017 and its great. I don't know if newer ones are prone to breakage but so far so good with mine.

I think that the more you want a notebook replacement, the more likely you'll find a Surface or Windows-based competitor (ultrabook, 2-in-1, ...) thet more useful choice. If you just want/need a "super tablet", the iPads will more likely be the better choice.
I don't want a notebook replacement but rather a companion device that I can to handle my information notes, and what not while I use a desktop in the office.

I strongly advise against the Surface Go due to its lackluster processor.
That is one of the knocks on the Go, but for single tasking type of activities, I've read that its adequate.
 
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OldCorpse

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Honestly? I don't think there is a really good all-in-one on any platform ATM. If it's not weight, it's capability, battery life, what have you. So my honest opinion is that you must buckle down and accept that you must carry two devices. Once you accept that, the world opens up to excellent choices. My personal choice is to get the best tablet out there the iPad, and the best laptop out (for me that's a MacBook Air - for you it might be a really good Windows laptop and there are plenty of them out there) - I am particularly sensitive to weight, so that's why it's the Air for me, others might go for the Pro. YMMV.
 

AceFernalld

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Most other tablets run Windows or some variant of Android. Choice has been clear for me since 2010. iPad all the way.

In terms of your maximum achievable productivity level, yes it should go up with iPadOS 13.
 

maflynn

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Here's my thinking, I'm going to be working with my iPad and see if that will work, though I may try to trade in an old laptop and swing a deal at the MS store for a Surface Go.

the more I think about it, the more I believe a 13" form factor may be too much. After all the goal is use it mostly as a tablet but thanks windows, the Go has better keyboard and mouse support so its a plus to type in stuff when the need arises.

Again this isn't to replace a laptop but compliment an existing computer that I have both in my home office and work.
 

Ludatyk

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If you ever need to download files, copy them to external storage, you’ll want a Windows device.
Scratch that off the list of what the iPad "cannot" do. With Safari on iPadOS, you are able to download files and copy them to an external storage. This idea that the iPad cannot do "real" work, I wish we can get past this.

There is no denying that Windows is a more capable operating system than iPadOS, but I've used iPad for so many years... there are methods to get the most out of it. It's just take some research to maximize what it can do.

After all the goal is use it mostly as a tablet but thanks windows, the Go has better keyboard and mouse support so its a plus to type in stuff when the need arises.
If your goal is to use it as a tablet, I think iPad gives you the best tablet experience. Apple renewed focus on iPad with iPadOS, I believe that it's only going to get better going forward. I've been using iPadOS day one, and I've been enjoying the "multiple window" aspect of it.

I use Windows as a Virtual Machine with my iMac, and I praise what Microsoft is doing with the Surface... but as for me the iPad wins in terms of versatility.
 
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Dave-Z

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I've posted my thoughts on the Surface a few times in another thread here. With the Surface Go I can casually surf in a web browser or read an ebook in tablet mode, and when I'm ready to work just attach the cover and have a full PC. It's a really great experience. The keyboard on the type cover is smaller (non-standard). I've been touch typing for decades but I had no trouble using the smaller keyboard.

Lenovo has deals all the time. Even if you miss this ThinkPad X1 Tablet sale, there will be another (probably around the next major holiday). The X1 is an amazing and capable machine. I strongly considered it but I'm waiting for the next generation. You should be aware that there are some major complaints of the anti-reflective coating coming off on their forums. It's one of the reasons I'm waiting to see what the next generation is going to be like. But it doesn't really matter because despite being a great deal it seems like that might not be the best fit for you. If you disliked the 12.9" iPad's size you won't like the X1's size. It's bigger and heavier.

I love using my Surface Go. It is a bit pricey for what you get, for sure, but it's not too bad (certainly Apple's "tax" is worse). I would suggest going for the higher end model with the 8 GB RAM/128 GB SSD; the storage is much faster on that model versus the cheaper one. If you're using this on the road, get the cheaper type cover (the vinyl one, not the fabric one). They're the same functionally, but the cloth material of the pricier type cover will be harder to clean. The bezels are a bit large, but I don't mind because I can actually hold the device without hitting the screen.

Windows 10 is quite nice. I referenced the scripts in this GitHub repo as a basis for turning off the analytics gathering Windows comes with. I didn't run the scripts directly because I think they're over-aggressive, but I read through them and turned off the stuff I didn't want. If you can spring for the Surface Go for Business it comes with Windows 10 Professional. Pro has some nice features over the Home edition

As I've said in other places around here, I switched to Windows when my 12.9" iPad developed touch screen issues and I'm pretty happy with it. Windows has come a long way and I find I'm substantially more productive using the Surface than I was with the iPad.
 

iPadified

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Apr 25, 2017
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Is the correct apps available for iPad? I/O, mouse etc is mostly to get used to do things differently on iPad compared for PC/Mac. Precision work on iPad can be difficult but you can get used to it. The pencil helps a lot for precision work.

If you use the iPad in "laptop mode" (upright with an external keyboard) most of the time, go for a laptop and not an iPad. Perhaps the mouse support will make laptop mode iPad usage better but then it is another device to keep track of.

Multiple occasions of the same app is crucial for work and that is coming in PadOS.

Best keyboard I ever used was IBM Thinkpad 600, and it seems Lenovo still makes great keyboards!
 

maflynn

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Is the correct apps available for iPad?
For the most part, I found if an app had a desktop variant, that version was fuller featured. For my needs I'm looking at note taking - the iPad wins out with noteability I've been trying to use onenote but I'm not liking it at all. The windows version is more feature rich to be sure, but I'm hating it on both platforms.

Excel/word and dealing with PDFs seem to be better using desktop class apps.

I'm using my iPad pro with noteability as mentioned and so far I'm liking how its working. I'll be visiting the MS store later today and trying out/playing with the Surface go.

it seems Lenovo still makes great keyboards!
They do, my Thinkpad X1 Extreme, puts the MacBook Pro to shame. Great keys, key travel, and spacing. The keyboard is also water resistant, its the best on the market imo. This was one major reason why I was considering the Thinkpad tablet, the reviews highlighted how nice that keyboard is.

Another factor that I'm grappling with is, platform/ecosystem. I use windows at work, my laptop is windows based and much of my data is on OneDrive. I'm naturally leaning towards a windows machine for that reason.

With that said, I am impressed with how things are working with my iPad, and the volume of apps in the iOS app store vs. Windows store is no contest, but of course with a windows tablet, I can run win32 apps not just UWP
 

bensisko

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Despite all the hype, I don’t see how iPad OS fundamentally changes the nature of the iPad. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, I LOVE iOS, but iPad OS doesn’t make the iPad a non-iOS device. It’s still fundamentally an iPad - and I don’t see that changing. Even with it’s own OS, Apple isn’t going to suddenly make the iPad a very different device.

The ThinkPad X1 is a good choice, so is the Surface Pro. I’d choose the ThinkPad solely due to I/O options. I strongly advise against the Surface Go due to its lackluster processor.. Being able to watch 4K videos on YouTube is nice on a windows tablet, but other than that, surfing is best done using the tablet as a traditional laptop or with the stylus. Also, do take the battery life estimates with a huge caution, my experience is that a Windows tablet battery life in real world is much much less than advertised, possibly due to more background task like antivirus, etc..
As a Surface Go owner I can say this warning is entirely unfounded - as long as expectations are kept in check.
The Go is able to handle my Adobe apps as well as Fallout 3 / New Vegas. Of course you’re not going to run more modern graphics intensive games, but outside of the Book or Studio, that’s true of the other Surface machines as well. The Go is a VERY capable machine and doesn’t get enough credit for what it is.
 

xxray

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Just a thought: if you’re decide to buy the ThinkPad in a haste because of the coupon, it could be a lot more expensive in the long run if you find you’re not happy with it because you were rushed in your decision making.
 

maflynn

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if you’re decide to buy the ThinkPad in a haste because of the coupon,
I don't do anything in haste ;)

I've been debating this tablet issue now for most of 2018 :O

I think, I'm crossing the Thinkpad and Surface Pro off the list. I'm leaning towards the smaller form factor simply because its a companion device to work along side my laptop or desktop computer. Plus as I said, holding a 13" slab of screen gets old, at least it was for me when I had owned he 12" iPad pro.
 

bensisko

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I hear nothing but positive reviews and user experiences.
It gets positive reviews, but the conclusion always is “it’s good for surfing the web, emails, and word processing, but not much more”. I just want to dispel the myth that’s all it’s good for. =)
 

chrism_scotland

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Nov 11, 2018
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I don't do anything in haste ;)

I've been debating this tablet issue now for most of 2018 :O

I think, I'm crossing the Thinkpad and Surface Pro off the list. I'm leaning towards the smaller form factor simply because its a companion device to work along side my laptop or desktop computer. Plus as I said, holding a 13" slab of screen gets old, at least it was for me when I had owned he 12" iPad pro.
I've used the Surface Go, Surface Pro 6 and the iPad Pro 12.9 with iPadOS13 over the last 6 months or so as a combo of personal and work devices.

I seem to have actively avoided "Laptop"form factor devices in favour of touchscren/tablets for some reason - not sure why! But its maybe because I've got a desktop at home that I can use if needed.

I work in IT and do a lot of Office 365/Microsoft type stuff along with Network Config and have an eye toward getting into some Web Dev and Coding but mainly as a hobby, I still feel that I need to retain a Windows machine for that although the ability to remote into my machine at home helps masively with that!

On the move I too find a 12.5 / 13 inch device to be as big as I'll generally tolerate, the iPad Pro 12.9 is probably as big as I'll go although I have considered the Lenovo X1 Carbon before (laptop not tablet) and it generally gets rave reviews.

Personally I've now gone down the 2 mobile device route, an Android Tablet (Samsung Galaxy S5e) for media and more personal stuff - the screen is just incredible, it got 4G/LTE for streaming and I can access almost anything with Android, it also plays nice with my Chromecast devices, I have no issues with file format (something that can't be said for the iPad) and its tiny! - DEX mode is also under-appreciated - with a Keyboard and Mouse its a decent machine for some basic office stuff, Remote Desktop as well.

My quandry is whats my second device going to be - I've ruled out ChromeOS after trying a Chromebook and found that there's just too much broken stuff (bluetooth for example) to really want to stay with that even though between Android and Linux there isn't much it can't do.

I've liked the Surface Go, its a great size, easily powerful enough for most things and easy to plug into a big screen, etc if needed - the only real downer is that the battery life is dire but its got USB-C so easy enough to charge up again - I've often moaned about a lack of Windows "apps" but really having an Android Tablet covers it off.

I borrowed an iPP from work and acquired a Brydge Keyboard.... this really is awesome nice to type on - the mouse support on iOS13 seems good and the desktop browser is excellent, I can do almost anything I need to do, on top of that the iOS apps are plenty powerful now.

But, there is just that little bit nagging at me that its good but not quite there yet - mouse support is ok but probably fairer to call it pointer support - it doesn't truly replicate the "right clicking" of a PC mouse which makes things like Online Web Builder sites tricky (WIX.com).

Also with the Brydge - its a fairly hefty unit (I'd reckon not dissimilar to the Lenovo X1) but I can't deny it turns the iPad into an almost laptop surrogate!

Maybe I just want to lighten the load - S5e and Surface Go would take up no space in the bag! - really though theres a lot of choice out there now, really just dpeends what you want.