I’ve been interested in the future of computing since I was a kid. I’ve been through the desktop dominance of the 90s and early 2000s, seen the proliferation of laptops in the late 2000s, and the rise of mobile computing in the past decade. I’ve always been wanting new form factors and new ways to experience my favorite hobby. Today, I take another step in that journey.
I purchased an Apple iPad Pro 12.9 3rd gen, a Smart Keyboard Folio, and the Apple Pencil. I have used other devices like the Surface Pro and Chromebook and found them excellent devices. However, they always felt sort of.. well, boring. The Surface is just another Windows device and the Chromebook was simply a laptop with a great web experience but lacked power. I looked to the iPad Pro with a skeptical eye at first. There’s no way that it can possibly provide a great experience like that of a laptop. Well, I’m here to find that out.
The packaging is unapologetically Apple. Minimal and, admittedly, good looking. There was an easy to open tab on the plastic wrap that made getting into this device extremely easy and satisfying.
The first thing you see when you open the box is the iPad sitting there wrapped up. Always an important quality of Apple’s packaging, let the customer see the product front and center. Let it be the first thing they put their hands on in the experience. Brilliant.
The box also comes with the USB-C cable and charging brick as well as some documents that barely anyone ever reads.
The Apple Pencil comes in a pencil-length box and contains the pen and some documentation.
The Apple Pencil fits in my hand really well and feels very ergonomic at first glance. Using it on the screen is a joy. With the high refresh rate of the iPad it feels extremely smooth and responsive. The tilt feature is neat, though it might become a bit of an issue since I tend to write with my hand tilted quite a bit. We’ll have to see how it feels in an app that takes advantage of it. (Beyond the Notes app that I’ve tried it in)
Next up was the Smart Keyboard Folio. I felt that the only way the iPad was going to be a productive device was with a keyboard and Apple was more than happy to oblige. Minimal packaging as per usual.
The box contained simply the Folio wrapped in plastic. Not much to see here.
The keyboard is surprisingly spacious. It doesn’t feel cramped at all. The iPad attaches to it via lots of magnets in the tablet. It had the smart connector on the back of the case to provide data and power to the keyboard. The keyboard switches remind me of the ones on the new MacBook Pros with the butterfly mechanism. They don’t have much travel, but you can really pound out some words and it doesn’t feel strange at all. I’m pleasantly surprised as I have been critical of their keyboards in the past. A must have accessory.
Powering up a new device is always exciting. I’m not going to bore you with the specs and features as they’re available on pretty much every site out there. I want to tell you how it feels to use, not what bits and electrons it’s moving.
The display is extremely smooth. Like really smooth. The high refresh rate on it makes it feel ultra responsive. The colors are amazing as well. I don’t have a calibration tool or something to measure the color gamut, but rest assured you will not be disappointed by this device’s display.
The speakers are impressive as well. The device is really thin, 5.9mm to be exact, and the speakers sound better than most laptops. Lots of bass and clarity. Listening to Spotify as a I write this post is pleasure to my ears.
The last few things that I want to mention are more of an iOS thing than iPad. The multitasking features are so welcome. Being able to swipe out a chat window and respond really quickly is something that I expect from desktop computers, but to have it on a tablet is great. However, the main multitasking feature I am so glad they have included is COMMAND + TAB. To be able to switch between apps with the same keyboard shortcut that I use on the desktop is just short of amazing.
In short, my first impressions are really positive. I hope that this trip into the future of computing that Apple has presented us will be a good one. I will have to test out lots of apps and features to see just how deep the rabbit hole goes. Perhaps I’ll find Alice there with her iPad Pro sipping tea.