Over time, the iPad has become the primary computing device that I interact with. I’ve found myself spending a greater proportion of screen time on an iPad vs a Mac or any other device. I recently purchased the new, second-generation iPad Pro 12.9 and it’s insanely good. This post is about why it’s so good and how it has changed the way I work.

The new 12.9 is better than the old 10.5 and 12.9 together

Until I got the new iPad Pro 12.9 I actually had two iPads. I had the first generation iPad Pro 10 and also the 12.9. Why on earth did I have two iPads? I had the 12.9 purely for the display size. It was ideal for reading a whole sheet of music for practice or performance or for reading magazines, watching video, and many other things like doing simple photo post-processing in Lightroom. However it was big and clunky. The 10.5 was always the iPad I would read in bed or that I would take on travels but the 12.9 was really the one I would have preferred to use all the time if it wasn’t so unwieldy.

The new iPad Pro 11 vs the new iPad Pro 12.9

When the 2018 iPad Pros came out, I had to think about whether to get one of the new ones at all and if so whether to get the new 11 or the new 12.9.

After a while the choice became pretty clear. While the new 11” model had a bigger screen in roughly the same footprint as the previous 10.5, the 12.9 kept the same display size as the first-generation model but was substantially smaller due to the much narrow bezels. Basically it’s not that much bigger than the 10.5 or the new 11 but you get a much bigger screen. Of course it’s also lighter than the old model as well. So I got the new 12.9 and I was able to use it instead of both the old 10.5 and 12.9.

The new iPad Pro 12.9 vs the MacBook

What’s even more interesting is comparing the new iPad Pro 12.9 to the MacBook and it’s 12” display.

In terms of portability the new iPad Pro 12.9 is about the same width as the MacBook but it’s taller. However that additional surface area translates into more display. The MacBook has a display of 2304 x 1440 (16:10) whereas the iPad Pro 12.9 is 2732 x 2048 (4:3). The iPad Pro in the keyboard case is a bit thicker than the the MacBook and about the same weight. So in terms of portability, whereas the 10.5 was clearly the choice for lugging around, the choice beween the 12.9 and the MacBook was less clear if I was to only bring one device on the road.

In terms of computing prowess the new iPad Pros are insanely powerful. More powerful than most computers. The 12” MacBook has always been pretty wimpy. It’s not just CPU and GPU either. I got my mid-2017 MacBook fully spec’ed with all options and the most storage I could get was 512 GB. That’s still the case today (in October 2018, Apple changed the color options for the MacBook lineup but didn’t made any changes to the technical specifications). My new iPad Pro 12.9 has 1 TB of storage!

The iPad is generally more usable for so many reasons. You have the touch screen, the ability to use it in portrait or landscape modes, the Apple Pencil, and you can use it like a laptop with the Smart Keyboard, or you can fold the keyboard behind or simply take it off and hold just the tablet. Using the new iPad Pro really feels like using an advanced piece of tech whereas using the MacBook feels like using old technology.

However, even though the iPad has been getting so much better over the years and I now spend more time on my iPad now than I do on my MacBook or Mac, there are still times when I have no choice but to use one of the computers. This is usually either because I hit the limitations of iOS or the apps available on iOS, or I need the calibrated display on my MacBook or Mac, or because I want the greater screen real estate on the iMac’s 5K display.

There are still a lot of things you can’t do on an iPad. For video shooters, there’s no app to import and handle ProRes video (apparently a limitation of iOS as opposed to apps like LumaFusion). For photographers, while Lightroom CC on the iPad is pretty good and getting better all the time, there’s no Photoshop. However I expect those things to change over time. Photoshop is coming to the iPad coming in early 2019 and Adobe demonstrated it running on the iPad at the launch event for the new iPad Pros. In the meantime I use Affinity Photo on the iPad.

Bottom line

The new iPad Pro 12.9 is a joy to use. I already spend more time on it than any of my Mac computers and I expect to take it on all my photography trips to use as my primary computing device including for all image management and post-processing in the field.

The new Apple Pencil and the new Smart Keyboard bring substantial improvements over the first-generation versions of those products. I love the move to USB-C on the new iPad Pros although it irked me that Apple didn’t include a headphone to USB-C adapter in the box.

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