Tuesday, May 3, 2016

IPad Pro Review

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I had picked up a 9.7" iPad Pro along with a few accessories. I didn't use the new iPad much until the keyboard cover arrived as I don't care for using the onscreen keyboard. It uses up too much screen real estate. The keyboard cover is made of similar material to the regular Apple cover and attaches to the iPad using the same strong magnets. Magnets in the cover also keep the keyboard folded against the cover (no key prints on the screen) and keeps the cover against the screen.

The keyboard material itself is some kind of synthetic fabric and has a completely different feel than any other keyboard I have used. It is powered from the iPad using three small connections built into the cover and these same connectors are also used for data transmission. In other words, the keyboard is not Bluetooth and has to be physically attached to the iPad for use. The keyboard is about 10% smaller than a regular keyboard and the travel of the keys is about the same as my MacBook, i.e. very little travel. I don't have any problem typing on the keyboard even with the smaller size. But then again, I'm not a very good typist.

I have been trying to use an iPad as a portable blogging platform since the first iPad came out in 2010. Each successive model has been slightly better. Initially, the problem was getting photos from the iPhone to the iPad. That has been resolved by either using AirDrop or DeskConnect. AirDrop works without an Internet connection and I have been using it routinely. The other problem had been uploading photos into a blog post and being to format the display of the post. For years, I have been using Blogsy for the iPad (the iPhone version is pretty average) and it had been working great. On January 29, 2016, the authors removed it from the App Store due to sluggish performance of both the app and sales.

My current blogging app is BlogPad Pro which was initially designed for WordPress sites but now sort of supports Blogger sites as well. I say sort of as there are some formatting problems which are easy enough to address by posting as "Draft" and fixing the HTML directly using the Blogger editor. It would be nice to have these issues fixed and I have sent in bug reports to the author.

AirDrop now actually works pretty consistently between my devices but it took some playing around to figure out how. WiFi and Bluetooth both need to be enabled even if you are not connected to a WiFi network. If you do that, then the devices find the each other and you can transfer files though I've only used it for photos. I had ordered the camera connection kit which allows you to plug in an SD card using a USB adaptor. This should allow me to use photos from the DSLR if desired and possibly GoPro video. The USB port on the camera connection kit will also support the Ethernet adaptor as well as a number of other USB peripherals. (Or so I hear)

The Apple Pencil is another accessory that only works with the iPad Pro models but the number of applications that support it are few. The digitizer has very high resolution and very fine, detailed drawings and lettering can now be made. Unfortunately, there isn't an easy way to carry around the overpriced stylus.

The 9.7" iPad Pro with the "Smart Keyboard Cover" weighs in at 1.5 lbs. Pretty light. But, my newish MacBook weighs just a shade over 2 lbs. Not a whole lot of difference. The iPad isn't tied to Wi-Fi as it has a Verizon SIM installed. Both devices have all day battery life and very nice high resolution displays. Would I recommend the 9.7" iPad Pro? Absolutely but it isn't a replacement for the laptop but it may be all I bring on short trips when I need to travel light. For longer trips, I occasionally need the additional flexibility provided by a laptop,


  1. Great review! I just got a 12" MacBook that I'm looking forward to traveling with.

    1. It really is great for travelling. And even though it is only single core, it's more than fast enough.

  2. I picked up the larger iPad Pro just a few weeks before the smaller one was released. For me, I like the larger one. I thought I gave a better write up at https://thebikerwave.wordpress.com/2016/03/18/a-new-blogging-rig/ but what I put there was pretty darn basic.

    I got the Camera reader dongle. It works really well. I haven't done much with the GoPro yet, but I have transferred files to it wirelessly. Again, it works really well.

    I actually have the Apple Pencil. I really like it. I use "Notability" as my note taking app. It works really good for me. You're right though... Apple should have figured out a way of carrying the pencil around with the case.

    1. I looked at the new, larger iPad Pro but since I wasn't really looking for a laptop replacement, I opted for the same size that I had before. Having double the system memory like the larger model would've been nice but, oh well...

      I did pick up the pencil as well but finding apps that support it for other than a pointing device is difficult. I will definitely be looking at Notability. Thank you for the suggestion.

  3. If you're looking for a quick and easy way to transfer photos from iPhone to iPad or Mac (and vice versa), then you might want to consider using Photosync as an alternative to AirDrop 👍