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My trusty 17″ MacBook Pro recently died and though I’d always sworn I’d just get another I’ve taken a plunge and gone wholly mobile with a 9,7″ iPad Pro. Here’s my “beyond the stats” review of the iPad Pro as a PC, Mac, laptop or MacBook replacement.

For the most part I’ve long relied on Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop for the bulk of my bread and butter. But, in recent months, I’ve transitioned from dedicated designer and typesetter to writer. While doing so I’ve doing that I produce writing more naturally and closer to my own voice when using my iPad Mini. I can also more easily record my shorter creative insights and remain present to them. I touch type reasonably fast but found that I lose my voice when producing writing on a traditional computer or laptop and also end up not being present to my shorter creative bursts.

When I transitioned to Mac from PC it was a work requirement and I resisted it with every fiber of my being. I made the decision to go with a MacBook Pro instead of an iMac and it turned out to be the best working experience. I ended up with all the power of a desktop in a mobile device and have thoroughly loved my MacBooks ever since. Since then I’ve sworn that though they’re pricey I’d nab another the same day my MacBook died. Except that when mine died, I didn’t grab another. I bought an iPad Pro instead.

Three reasons guided my choice:

  1. The first is that I no longer work primarily as a typesetter and designer.
  2. The second is that I’ll mostly be writing and researching from now have produced my most piratical writing in my own voice most naturally when writing on my iPad Mini.
  3. The third is that the 12″ MacBook and Retina 13″ MacBook Po are significantly more expensive. With the trade-in of my MacBook Pro I could afford the iPad Pro, but not either option I wanted.

After working with it for a while there are a large number of pro’s compared to the con’s of going with this device.

Two points stand out:

  1. Get the Keyboard and Pencil. I acquired the Apple Pencil and not the Apple Keyboard. After working a bit on it if you’re going to be multitasking, the keyboard is probably the device to choose if you have to choose between the two. The on screen keyboard works well when mono-tasking but not when multi-tasking as it takes up too much space. I do intend to pick up the keyboard to round off the experience.
  2. It actually can, given the right software, replace a PC/Laptop. Many feel that because you don’t have access to the file system and can’t run desktop apps like Photoshop and Illustrator, that you can’t really use it as your primary device. Well, if that’s what you need, then I agree. However, software developers like Apple, Microsoft, and Adobe have stepped up. Adobe, for instance, have conceptualized iPad Apps around workflows. Their apps Spark Post, Spark Paste, and Spark Video all focus on single tasks and are fantastic. Adobe Sketch, Photoshop Mix, and Adobe Draw are fantastic alternatives that work incredible well on the iPad. And, with handover working so well these apps play nicely with the fully fledged desktop suites and the iDevices (iPhone, iPad, iMac, etc.) all get along well. In the same vein, Microsoft and Apple have made their productivity suites available. I find MS Office and iWork comparable on the iPad Pro. They really evidence that you can, pending the right software, use the iPad Pro as a productivity device.

In short, the iPad remains a new kind of device requiring a shift in worldview and culture. But it’s not for everyone. If you’re ready and willing to make that shift, then it’s well worth doing so. If not, then keep doing what works for you and stick to more traditional desktop environments.