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iPad Pro diary day 5: The iPad Pro as a writing tool, and a decision half-made


Things have moved on rather a lot since I gave my first impressions and highlighted my core questions in choosing between my existing iPad Air 2 and the iPad Pro. Further usage of it has made it abundantly clear that the iPad Pro cannot replace a standard iPad. It’s ridiculously over-sized for reading or watching Netflix in bed, and there are other times when the smaller version was simply more convenient.

But I do still love that screen! It’s great for casual web-browsing – better than either my MacBooks or iPad Air 2. It’s fantastic for viewing photos. It’s great for ebooks so long as you’re not trying to read them in bed. Magazines are amazing. Netflix is great with the huge screen and really loud speakers. Split View makes it a genuine multi-tasking device.

So, the question now is: send the iPad Pro back, or keep both devices? I said last time that I really couldn’t see a justification for having that much cash invested in iOS devices. One commentator responded to this with “Ah, just do it” – which I have to confess is a well-argued position.

I’d certainly find that easier to justify if it could earn its keep as a mobile writing device, so that was my next experiment … 

I’d like to have tested Apple’s own Smart Keyboard, but those appear to be made from unobtainium. Apple was thus pushing the Logitech Create keyboard, made specifically for the iPad Pro. Jeremy has written an excellent full review, but I’ll throw in my thoughts too in commenting on the overall experience of using the combination as a writing tool.

The arrival of the iPad Pro was well-timed for a writing test. It’s not really practical to use it for my work here, as I need too many apps open at once, but I’m currently taking part in National Novel Writing Month – something I do every 2-3 years. I’m thus spending a couple of hours a day when my 9to5Mac duties are complete to work on a book.

That book was supposed to be the sequel to The Billion Dollar Heist, but I hadn’t managed to come up with a plan that matched the scale, spectacle and audacity of the original. I plan my novels all the way down to a scene-by-scene level before I write a word of them, so without a viable plan, I couldn’t start work on the book. I decided to give my brain a rest by writing a short-ish non-fiction book I’d had in the back of my mind for some years.

I do most of my writing on my MacBook Pro, but on Friday set that aside to write on the iPad Pro. I was out for dinner in the evening, so part of the writing was done in the office, part of it on the train there, which allowed me to kill two birds with one stone: assessing the portability of the device, and finding out how well the keyboard worked when used on a lap rather than a desk.


Open, the keyboard looks pretty nice, if nothing special. The shade is yet another variation on Space Gray, and the keys themselves are very MacBook-like in appearance. One advantage of the Logitech keyboard over the Apple one is that it’s backlit, something I’ve come to view as near-essential these days.

In case mode, with the unit closed, it really looks very ordinary. The stylishness of the iPad is completely disguised. It’s smart enough, but that’s about as much as you can say for it. The side views look a little random, though they do keep the speakers exposed and allow access for the Lightning cable.


One thing that’s very welcome is no Bluetooth pairing and no need to charge the keyboard. The Smart Connector does that most Apple-like of things, and Just Works – automatically switching on the keyboard, and keeping it powered.

Snapping the iPad Pro in and out of the casing feels frankly nasty, and I also did find it slipped out a couple of times when I first got it. That hasn’t happened since, despite lots of use, so I suspect there’s just a bit of a knack to it which I’ve now picked up. Similarly, opening the case is a little awkward, lacking a MacBook-style cutout for your fingers – but it does slot very easily into its groove.

The keyboard itself is full size and has a decent amount of movement, but is definitely not MacBook Air/Pro standard – though has a lot more movement than the 12-inch MacBook.

Used on a desk, it’s an ok but not great typing experience. The screen angle is good, but the keys are a little on the spongy side, and I found myself making more mistakes than usual. Given that this is a full-size keyboard, it really should feel a lot better than an equivalent iPad Air 2 keyboard, but it doesn’t.

It’s significantly worse on your lap. The angle of the screen is too steep when you’re looking down at it, and the base is too flimsy: the whole thing wobbles as you type. This is honestly not the experience I expected from Logitech, whose keyboards I normally like.

However, the backlighting works well – I did some writing in the back of a cab in the dark without any difficulty.

One strange omission: there is no apparent way to do a forward delete. The dedicated function keys are also a little on the small side.

Both volume and power buttons are difficult to use through the case, requiring a lot of pressure. It’s actually really hard to take screengrabs, for example, without switching the device off.


In theory, you can use the iPad as a tablet without removing it from its case. In practice, this doesn’t work well. It makes for an extremely thick device, it doesn’t fully sit flat and it wobbles. Either tablet mode was an afterthought when Logitech was designing this, or someone messed up badly. I can’t see that anyone would want to use it in that mode – it’s far better to remove it from the case.


I do most of my mobile writing on my MacBook Air 11. The size and weight is similar to the iPad Pro with Logitech keyboard, and the price is comparable, so it’s reasonable to compare the two.

The MacBook Air keyboard is a lot better, and the trackpad feels more convenient for edits than the touchscreen of the iPad Pro. The Logitech keyboard does offer the standard OS X-style CMD-C/X/V for copying and pasting, but selecting text in the first place is more awkward.

Oddly, I actually found it more annoying than on my iPad Air 2. That may be partly the size – more distance for my hand to move – but also I think the Pro looks and feels like a MacBook, so psychologically I felt it should act like one.

Overall, then, I found the iPad Pro with Logitech keyboard a disappointing writing tool: I’ll definitely be sticking to my MBA for that.


I mentioned the bag problem last time. The iPad Pro doesn’t fit my small bag – the one I take out most of the time – and needs the same bags I’d use for my MacBook Air. But the case does feel robust, and I had nothing else to carry when heading out to dinner on Friday evening, so I decided to just carry it under my arm.

I wasn’t remotely nervous about scratching it. The iPad is extremely well-protected. The rather mundane look of the casing meant I also wasn’t concerned about it attracting unwanted attention.

But even on its own, without a bag, it felt heavy. I think it suffers from the fact that we’ve all become used to iPads being featherweight devices now, and this one definitely isn’t.


It’s interesting how much can change in the space of a few days. On day one, I was really thinking it quite likely that I’d keep the iPad Pro in preference to my iPad Air. On day two, it was looking like a closer call. But five days in, that much of the decision was made: it can’t replace the smaller iPad. The question has now become whether I can justify keeping both.

If it had won me over with its performance as a mobile writing tool, I’d have likely decided yes. But it really hasn’t: I’ve found it significantly inferior to my MacBook Air in that role.

So the obvious call at this point would be to reject the iPad Pro as neither one thing nor the other. Not as convenient as its smaller brother for most tasks, and not as good as a MacBook for writing.

But I do still love that large screen for all the things I mentioned in the introduction, and a significant part of what I’d be rejecting is not the iPad Pro itself, but the combo with the Logitech keyboard. Other keyboards will follow (Brydge is working on one, for example). Could I hold out in the hope that a better keyboard will win me round?

That’s the decision I’m mulling now. I’m veering toward not, but I said I’d give it a week, and I will: I’ll make my final decision on Wednesday.

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  1. Jens Larsen - 7 years ago

    Can podcast show fullscreen video on the pro?. That doesn’t work on iPad Air 2 anymore. Six months Apple incompetent sw team have tried to NOT to fix what worked before. I have useless iPad Air 2 where one third of the screen is video the rest or two third are white bars….

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      I hadn’t tried video podcasts, but nope: that hasn’t been fixed and looks terrible on the Pro!

  2. PhilBoogie - 7 years ago

    1) [quote] “It’s fantastic for viewing photos.”

    May I ask: how do you sync photos? Through OSX Photos? If so, are they downscaled to 5.6MP? One thing is for certain; Aperture won’t optimise the photos for the resolution on this display.

    2) [quote] “The Billion Dollar Heist”

    I had no idea you wrote anything other than 11/9 – thanks for the Top Tip.

    3) Keep the device. Buy one of each, and keep them. It’ll make you feel good.

  3. Alex Moran - 7 years ago

    As per usual you guys can block my comments but I maintain that Mark Gurman is the only knowledgeable person on this website.

    • Thomas Massengale - 7 years ago

      Oh, that’s a useful comment.

    • Grayson Mixon - 7 years ago

      Ben is my favorite writer on the site by far. Nobody else does the longer articles like this. It’s just a personal preference thing, not necessarily a right or wrong thing.

    • Do you realise how pathetic that sounds – throwing your dummy out the pram because someone hasn’t fell down on their knees and worshipped praise on Apple?

      Seriously, are people even capable of independent thought these days?

  4. jiggerslovesthemapples - 7 years ago

    Good point – it did sound like a well-reasoned review, until I read your comment about the Pencil. So, Ben, what about the Pencil? How can you make an appropriate decision with 2 out of 3 key hwr pieces unavailable???

    • Alex Moran - 7 years ago

      A major issue is that reviewers will say “the pencil is great and is super responsive, but it’s clearly meant for creative only” what people, especially tech reviewers fail to realize is the power of the pencil. No matter what we do, the is always a time when we need a pen and paper. From what I’ve read the pencil replicates it really well. People fail to see how the pencil can be incorporated because of this idea that is only for illustration. It can be used daily by many people.

      It bothers me that so many reviewers turn a blind eye to it and it’s their words and opinions that influence other people’s purchases

    • friedmud1 - 7 years ago

      The lack of Pencil is one of the reasons I haven’t bought one yet. I’m really wanting it for the Pencil… so until I can get both simultaneously I’m waiting. I agree that it’s one of the unique things about the iPad.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      For me, the Pencils is irrelevant for reasons outlined in other replies – but I’ll also address this in my decision piece.

      • Al B. - 7 years ago

        Sylus’ have been widely used by graphic artists, and some by us in video production. However, they have not really been great at note taking, other than a few specific apps, like MS OneNote, using very specific and too expensive devices. I have used the existing array extensively. None of them for the price have been worth it. Research has clearly shown that humans remember better when writing down with handwriting their notes. A widely accepted device like the Apple Pencil will probably find that it’s used a lot by people who don’t think of using one now. Given the lack of a mouse with the iPad, the use of a stylus, which is what this is, will likely find some fans.

      • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

        Yes, I’m sure that’s true. But personally, I hand-write literally nothing. Even my shopping lists are typed or dictated.

      • iali87 - 7 years ago

        Nothing beats the surface pro 3 or 4 with OneNote for note taking. My notes consist of handwriting + cropped clips from my pdf books + typing + audio and video notes.
        Still can’t do all that with iPad pro with pencil. iPad pro still a device that will be used for watching movies, playing some games, and do some browsing and thats’ it.

      • dcj001 - 7 years ago

        Does Apple’s Notes app for Mac and iOS (synced through iCloud) do all of this?

  5. mikhailt - 7 years ago

    With the amount of focus you spent on the cons, I’d recommend sending it back and wait for a few generations of iPad Pro to come first. There are too many compromises for your own use case and for something that costs $1K+, it’s not justified when you already have an iPad Air and Macbook that does specific tasks the best for your own use cases.

    It’s a first-gen hardware, it is expected to have first-gen compromises. Apple will improve on the iPad Pro quickly within a few years, look at how far the rest of their lineups came after 2 years. The original Macbook Air had the same compromises and only really came into its market 2-3 years in.

    • cubsnlinux - 7 years ago

      It’s not the hardware that’s limiting the Pro’s potential though. It’s the software/OS. For an iPad Pro to be a *replacement* for a laptop it should be able to handle everything within reason that laptops can handle much more efficiently. An iPad Pro doesn’t make your life easier.

      • mikhailt - 7 years ago

        1. iPad is a tablet first and foremost, it is never ever going to replace the laptops. It is NOT designed to replace a laptop, despite what Apple folks has stated on the matter. For “some” people, the iPad Pro can replace the need of a laptop but it won’t for the rest of the market. If you go into this thinking iPad Pro will replace your laptop, you will be disappointed. Buy an iPad Pro for what it can do for you now, not what it could do in the future nor what it can’t do now.

        2. Re: software potential; that’s true for any hardware. Look at the original Surface RT, the hardware was okay but the software was its downfall, same for Windows Mobile, Blackberry and so on.

        3. I agree on the software hindering the potential of the iPads (not just Pro but all iPads as well) and iOS 9 is just the beginning. It is so not optimized for iPad Pro but iOS 10 or 11 is where we’re going to start seeing some changes for iPad Pro specifically. Apple has a known history of their OS falling behind its hardware release for a year or two. Again, this is part of my recommendation not to buy an iPad Pro right now if you have more cons than pros, wait a year for the software to catch up and not only do you get more bang for your bucks, you will also get refreshed hardware in Pro 2 with Touch ID Gen2, potential Force Touch display, and so on.

        4. The point that some Apple folks were making is that many people do not need a laptop, an iPad or an iPhone can in fact be their only device. My mother and her sisters live on their iPads and never have any need for anything else and they’re perfectly happy with it. Do they need an iPad Pro? Most likely not but they would like the bigger screen but not at the expense of the extra weight. There will be a lighter iPad Pro in a few years and by that time, they’ll want this.

  6. What a silly review. How many people who own both an iPadAir2 and Macbook are thinking of buying a iPad Pro?

    It would be better to have a reviewer who does not own an iPadAir2 or Macbook.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      This one was.

      • Ben

        Huh? You said in the review you own an Air2 and Macbook.

        I want someone who owns an ipad4 to do a review.
        Or someone who doesn’t own a Macbook.

        If you already own a Macbook and Air2 there is very little reason to buy a iPad Pro

      • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

        You asked “How many people who own both an iPadAir2 and Macbook are thinking of buying a iPad Pro?” and I answered you.

      • virtualstorm - 7 years ago

        I am too. That makes it 2

    • Al B. - 7 years ago

      I have both an iPad Air and a MacBook Pro, for different purposes in my video business. I’m fortunate enough to have either to use (the Air battery life is terrible, might need to replace it, but need to take it to Apple to do so- bummer). I also just bought a iPad Pro, but don’t have a keyboard yet. So his review is relevant to me, as I was just thinking of buying a Logitech keyboard. Just because one doesn’t like a review, doesn’t mean it isn’t relevant. If someone is thinking of getting any of these three items for writing, this review is relevant.

      • Al B. - 7 years ago

        Sorry, I should have said, Macbook Air not iPad Air.

    • Marcos D (@madg1976) - 7 years ago

      I did. Simple reason. When I travel I take my iPad Air 2 and my MacBook Retina (I like photography). Got the pro and sold my air and macbook. One less device and charger to lug around. I do have a powerful home machine for everything else. If that were not the case I would not have replaced my macbook. It would also had not been the case with previous iphones. For all the reading I do on Kindle the iPhone 6 or 6 plus are great.

      In terms of the review itself I have been watching netflix and reading in bed by keeping the device in the logitech. The iPad air 2 with the smaller cover tips over easily and gets as heavy to hold up over time with the Pro the base is wide enough that it is kept propped up even on the comforter. On the couch with my morning coffee the Pro is on my thighs at a 45 degree angle. At the size of the screen it does not need to be as close to my eyes. I agree that iOS has to catch up with better drag and drop support and better keyboard support.

    • eklisiarh - 7 years ago

      Go away troll!

    • virtualstorm - 7 years ago

      Why don’t you be respectful? Nobody forced you to read the review. I found it very useful. Thanks Ben. Really a great write up.
      You do know that you can start your own site and review the heck whatever you want.

    • Soluble Apps - 7 years ago

      Surely someone with both those devices is best placed to compare them to the Pro?

  7. cubsnlinux - 7 years ago

    I came to the same conclusion that iPad Pro cannot replace my iPad Air 2. I mean if you already have a laptop and not a professional artist/graphics designer why bother with the Pro? Other than a few niche use cases like drawing etc. it is a square peg for a round hole. For almost all the use cases a 9.7″ iPad and a MacBook/MacBook Pro offer much better value and efficacy. During the iPad introduction back in 2010 Jobs pitched iPad as a device that does some things way better than what smart phones and laptops could do. iPad Pro is certainly great for work that requires a big touch first canvas but for everything else you are better off with a smaller iPad and a laptop.

    I read somewhere in comments the other day that iPad Pro is like a Ferrari but the governor restricts speeds to below 60 MPH. iOS 10 might change the game but as of today the Pro is definitely not a laptop replacement.

  8. Jimmy Hauser - 7 years ago

    I sold my ipad air 1 on ebay and ordered the ipad pro, then went to walmart and bought a $199 ipad mini. Between those two, and my windows workstation (a big NO to mac os) and all my needs are covered. I believe the laptop will be relegated to niche item used only by road warriors.

  9. Robert - 7 years ago

    You say you can’t use it in bed – that it is too big to hold.

    I never hold my iPad when watching video in bed. I always sit back against a big pillow and either set the iPad on my lap with my knees raised or if watching with my wife prop it up against a pillow by our legs. I can never understand why some people lay flat on their back and hold the device up above their face.

    I always set it on my lap when reading. The added weight (still lighter than the Surface or original iPad) is only an issue if your going to hold it up awkwardly while using it.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      It’s not just the weight, but the size! I usually read in bed lying on my side, so the bed takes the weight, but I feel like I’m constantly swivelling my eyes to read it. The Air 2 is much more book-like in bed.

  10. I currently own an iPad Air. My previous iPads have been the iPad with Retina Display (3rd Gen) and the original iPad which I got in 2010.

    My best experience with iPads and keyboards has been not to use a keyboard case.

    Why not? Because it cripples the iPad in its role as a tablet by adding extra bulk and weight.

    True, you can to remove the iPad from the keyboard case to use as a table, but the iPad will be naked without any protection, unless you carry a case for it. Also, by regularly removing and re-inserting the iPad into the case, the case will wear out much faster and the risk of your iPad detaching from the case will increase.

    Instead of limiting myself to a physical keyboard, and got to improve my typing using the on-screen keyboard. In fact, that’s how I type when I attend meetings and lectures. By placing the iPad in Landscape mode, I get a wide enough keyboard for comfortably typing on my lap for hours.

    For those times when I must use the full display size of my iPad I purchased an Apple Wireless Keyboard, which works great.
    True, it needs batteries and also pairing with bluetooth, but it gives me the freedom of adjusting the distance of the keyboard to the iPad any way I want.
    Also, a foldable aluminum stand holds my iPad at the right viewing angle.

    I’m looking forward to obtaining the new iPad Pro for it’s increased power and larger display. And of course, I’ll get the Pencil too.
    But if I had the iPad Air 2 instead of the first version, I would have a valid reason to wait until next year’s release to upgrade.

    Now, if Apple would be smart and kind enough to give us Xcode for iOS, that would definitely make it the best iPad ever!

  11. Benjamin Goh (@masotime) - 7 years ago

    SELL ME YOUR PENCIL IF YOU’RE GOING TO RETURN THE IPAD PRO!!11!1 (kidding kidding … Wait who am I kidding?)

  12. telecastle - 7 years ago

    I’ve tested iPad Pro at an Apple store with both the Apple’s Smart Cover and with the Apple Pencil. I came to the same conclusion – this device is of little use to me – unless this became a platform that ran both OS X and iOS (the notorious hybrid device) and could accommodate a pointing device (a mouse and/or trackpad).

    It seems that with the integration of the Apple Pencil at the OS level, the feasibility of having a mouse or trackpad paired and working with the iPad (without a jailbreak) is much higher than it used to be. However, even if this becomes possible in the future, the combination of the size and the price of the iPad Pro doesn’t make sense with the current limitations of iOS to which iPad Pro is bound. I really wanted to love the iPad Pro, but sadly, I don’t believe this is going to be a successful product. This is not the fault of the hardware. This is solely the fault of the Apple’s insistence of running an OS designed for phones on the powerful tablet like the iPad Pro.

    • J.latham - 7 years ago

      I wouldn’t say it needs full OS X even to handle Ben’s issue. Simply adding a cursor with a trackpad into iOS would suffice. It’s honestly my only thing keeping it from the Pro.

      • Honest question: Don’t you just feel like a MacBook / MacBook Air would fill your needs?
        Ben’s conclusion is “This device isn’t for me, the MacBook Air is!” So far, people seem to want to change iPad to fit their needs, not because there isn’t already a solution or a product they want, but because the product they want isn’t an iPad.

      • telecastle - 7 years ago

        MacBook Air is out of the question – the screen resolution is too low. The retina MacBook is something I’m considering in the future – once I can both charge it and tether my iPhone at the same time without resorting to an external USB hub. However, I would prefer a hybrid device on the iPad Pro platform to the retina MacBook because of being able to consume content and do light work (very light work) without having to use the keyboard or mouse. Without Apple offering such a device, I have to stick to a MacBook Pro and a regular-size iPad.

  13. telecastle - 7 years ago

    If Apple doesn’t want to create a hybrid device running both iOS and OS X, Apple needs to come up with a third OS platform – iOS Pro, which would allow people to use the iPad Pro for content creation and for work instead of binding the amazing software to the underwhelming iOS with all of its limitations. iOS is good for a small screen like the iPhone, but for full size iPad and for the iPad Pro, most iOS limitations need to be removed.

    • Or just add more features to iOS to allow it to replace a laptop.
      2015: iOS 9 added split screen multitasking and picture in picture. iPad Pro increases screen size, processor speed & RAM. Plus, a connector which supposedly can match USB 3.0 speeds.
      This is only the changes made in one year… Who knows what iOS 10 and next year’s iPads will bring! :)

  14. Al B. - 7 years ago

    Good review from a real world writer, thanks Ben! I was just looking at getting the Logitech keyboard for my new iPad Pro, but will hold off. One thing for others to note, I have not been able to get the iPad Pro to sync using Bluetooth with my older Apple Wireless keyboard. I know it’s the Pro’s problem, because my older iPad 2 still syncs perfectly. So unless I’m missing something Apple appears to have purposely disabled the ability to use the older keyboard. Which is a shame. I prefer the older key style to the newer ones.

    My impressions are that the new iPad Pro will not totally replace my MBPro 15 (which is what I’m using to write this), as the author states. The MBP15 keyboard is a joy to use. However, I’ve enjoyed spending this weekend with the iPadPro even w/o the keyboard, because it’s a much more useable screen. Overall, the older iPad is more portable and ‘personal’. Easier to throw in a small pack. I did find myself going to the iPad Pro for all casual uses over the weekend, and would not have chosen the iPad 2/Air/MBAir for anything. Having the huge screen for web browsing, personal video viewing, email, and other light duty tasks was a joy. Just need to find a keyboard that makes it useable. The startup time along is a winner over the MB Air for example. I sometimes have to wait 15 seconds for the MB Air to come out of sleep mode. The iMac Pro is instant on.

    I use Lightroom for professional still photography, and the iMac Pro will be a welcome addition to that world. Apple is abandoning Aperture, and the new iPhotos app is worthless for any serious photographers. Being able to upload to the Adobe cloud in the field is great, but still, lacking an ability to plug in external hard drives for offline storage is a serious handicap. Is there a tool to do that I”m unaware of?

    Some other thoughts: A main reason to upgrade was to get the ability to use on a music stand. I use ForScore for reading sheet music, and the smaller iPads are just marginally ok. The iPad Pro is fabulous for sheet music. I will keep it for this use alone. It likely will find an dedicated audience in musicians.

    For an all in one device for travel, I think that the iPad Pro is the hands down winner. I would easily see me traveling with this, over any other device. It fits in the same over the shoulder bag as my MB Air does. The MBPro does not. Too big.

    For all hard core writing, video production and audio production (which I also do), the MacBook Pro is the choice. Full fledged apps like Adobe’s suite, and a fully functional set of tools like Scrivener and Final Draft, full version of Excel and Word, ability to easily use a USB port for offline storage and transfers, makes it a no brainer. People who draw will find the new iPad Pro a real boon, if they are into screen over paper drawing.

    Hope this helps folks make a choice. Too many choices! Which is good.

  15. Grayson Mixon - 7 years ago

    I have my own theory. Apple devices come in several basic categories:
    iPhone Plus
    iPad Mini
    iPad Air
    iPad Pro

    The average person needs 3 of these. Some people can get by with 2. Some people need more. But the average person needs 3.

    And the difference between devices should be 2-3 rungs on the ladder to create enough separation and limit overlap.

    So, for example, why would someone have an iPhone Plus and an iPad Mini? They’re almost the same size. Even an iPad Air may not be enough differentiation because the iPhone Plus is so big. That person may opt for iPad Pro.

    Someone who needs a desktop for what they do, may be fine ditching their laptop and going with an iPhone/iPad Air/Desktop combo or an iPhone/iPad Pro/Desktop combo.

    But if they rely on their laptop, they may not want an iPad Pro because it’s too similar to the laptop they already have, not enough differentiation.

    I rely on a desktop with four large monitors for coding. If you do SQL/C#/ASP .NET development, you know what I mean. It’s basically impossible on a laptop, so I rarely use my laptop. For me, I have an iPhone/iPad Air/Desktop combo, but the iPad Pro does appeal to me because it still slots in nicely between my giant desktop and iPhone.

    • This is such an interesting idea. I used to really want an iPad, but accepted I didn’t need one, so now I just have a MacBook and an iPhone. It’s weird, because I picked a MacBook Pro, I could sleep at night knowing the MacBook Air (for example) wasn’t for me, but because Apple placed iPad in it’s own category, I kept thinking “How can this fit into my life *with* my laptop and phone?”

    • Grayson

      Excellent theory. I agree with it 100%

      I own a 6+ and see very little need for an iPad Air. The difference in screen size is just not enough.

      Ideally I would want:

      6+ for mobile use
      iPad Pro for home and work
      MacMini for heavy work

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      Yes, I would say four works for me: iPhone 6s, iPad Air 2, MacBook Air 11, MacBook Pro 17. I initially didn’t see a role at all for the iPad Pro, but I do love it for more things than I expected.

    • Siavosh Mahboubian - 7 years ago

      I think this explains it really well.

  16. Robert Kerr (@robkerr88) - 7 years ago

    This write up really speaks to my experience with iPad keyboard solutions in general–and I’ve tried many with 9.7″ iPads. I’ve ordered the apple keyboard to evaluate, but won’t see it until Christmas :-(. Maybe it will be better for me?

    With my iPad pro I just travel with the smart cover and a magic keyboard. The panels on the Pro smart cover are wide enough to make a solid and non-tippy base for the Pro when standing up the pro So the screen is perpendicular to a table. The angle is fine for typing that way as well. The keyboard is the same as I use at my desk–so no compromises. I just throw the pro with cover as well as the 1/2 lb magic keyboard in my bag and good to go. I use the screen keyboard for quick stuff and pull out the Bluetooth keyboard when I need to hit 100wpm.

    True that this is only a solution when using the keyboard at a table, but I don’t do serious word processing on my lap anyway, so the screen keyboard is fine for me when making some quick notes, returning emails or filling web forms and other light duties.

    Probably not for everyone, but just to point out the attached mobile keyboards aren’t the only practical option.

  17. dksmidtx - 7 years ago

    Ben – reading this and your last two pieces really made me think – just add touch screen and second Type C port to the new MacBook and call it a day. Light, fast, great screen, full laptop keyboard (for using in your lap) – dream over.

  18. Alyssa Davis - 7 years ago

    In the States can you really just return an iPad after a week simply because you don’t like it? We can’t do that with anything in Australia unless it’s faulty!

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      Doesn’t Apple have a return policy in Australia? Here Apple offers 14 days. (In the UK, the law gives you 7 days for anything bought mail-order anyway.)

      • Alyssa Davis - 7 years ago

        Hi Ben, thanks so much for your reply. I just rang an Apple Store and they do in fact have a 14 day return policy for iPads .. just have to make sure they don’t get scratched and keep all the packaging. That’s quite unique, go Apple!

  19. It seems like an iPad Air 3 that was basically a 9.7″ iPad Pro, would have been a winner.

  20. Ilko Sarafski - 7 years ago

    Ben, you know that I am rather a fan of yours but on that one I might agree with some of the others here. I think I can feel you pretty well, yet I think you should wait a bit and try the same experiment with Apple’s keyboard and the pencil. Simply because you’ll try all the things that the Pro offers and use its full potential. That said, I would give you, if I may, a piece of advice – return the Pro now and (if possible) take it again for a week but only when the Pencil and the keyboard are available. In your case, the keybrd is pretty much essential (not as much as the pencil), so if Apple’s own keybrd is far better than the Logitech’s I assume you might rethink your dilemma. :) Keep us posted on your thoughts about the Pro.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      I suspect Apple’s keyboard will be worse, but I’ll certainly try it either way. The Pencil really is completely irrelevant to me – I can’t draw, never hand-write and don’t do any work that requires me to annotate anything. I can see for many it’s the killer feature, but not for me.

      • Ilko Sarafski - 7 years ago

        Why do you think Apple’s keyboard will be worse? They have pretty good experience with portable keyboards so I assume they might’ve done an even better one than Logitech’s. On the other hand, Logitech are veterans… Hm, we’ll see I guess.

      • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

        I believe it has a lot less movement.

    • cubsnlinux - 7 years ago

      If a keyboard is _essential_ for the iPad Pro to be useful or for someone to like it then they will be better off with a LapMac.

      • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

        I don’t think that follows. A keyboard is also essential for my iPad Air 2, but I use that in very different ways to my Macs, with quite limited overlap.

  21. People are really over thinking the iPad Pro.

    Will this replace your laptop? Not for everyone.
    Will this replace your iPad Air? Not for everyone.

    I fricken love the iPad Pro because its the ultimate personal consumption device.

    Will it replace my iPad Air? Hell yes.
    Will it replace my Laptop? No, cause I don’t own a laptop. I do all my serious work on a desktop.

    In a few years only a small niche of ‘road warriors’ will buy laptops. Everyone else will use powerful tablets like the iPad Pro that is so much more user friendly and just plain more fun to use.

  22. lmabe10 - 7 years ago

    Thanks for the review, Ben! Speaking of writing, do you have any recommendations app-wise? What do you use to plan your outline, scenes, characters, etc? Have you discussed this in detail anywhere else I could read?


  23. lsutgr (@lsutgr) - 7 years ago

    I have an iPad Pro that I replaced my iPad Air with. I chose not to get the keyboard/case combo and instead use an external bluetooth keyboard and a stand for the iPad when I plan on doing a lot of typing. This works great for me. My only complaint so far is that Apple needs to expand on the keyboard integration. Hopefully that will come in a 9.? update.

    • dcj001 - 7 years ago

      How would you like for the keyboard to be further integrated with the iPad?

      Hopefully, you understand that many of Apple’s Mac keyboard commands may be used with (any brand of) Bluetooth keyboards when using an iPad:

      Command – Tab switches from one iOS app to another one that is also running (in the background). Also:

  24. cafesitter (@cafesitter) - 7 years ago

    Very nice article Ben. Thought maybe you woud be interested from mainly enterprise point of view as this is where Apple is aiming with the Pro.

    Meetings – you can write down notes, pull up emails, presentations etc and in our new office (moving this Wednesday) I will also be able to beam them to meeting room screens via Apple TV instantly – can’t wait. If you open a notebook and click clack during a meeting it is downright disrespectful – having iPad down on the desk and typing on no sound software keyboard has been gradually accepted over the last year or two (I dont plan to use hardware keyboards in meetings for that reason).

    I rarely type the entire reports or memos these days – rather I review and comment on drafts prepared by my junior colleagues – technically I annotate PDFs – just did my first report and it is amazing to have the whole page in a very readable form far far better than small iPad.

    Another significant reason often not considerd by tech writers – many in enterprise are stuck to Windows PCs and there is no BYOD computer programme – so I cant have Macbook or the gorgeous 5K iMac – but I can have iPad Pro – it is a true replacement of PC for me for all travel and client visits, I can get by leaving the PC back in the office, I did that with previous iPads this will be much better.

    Netflix, reading papers, web surfing great for me (for web and papers I predfer portrait to labdscape and I enjoy the massive spaceery much).

    I appreciate that people have different needs and writing a novel on the software keyboard probably would be impossible…

    I am positive you will end up keeping the Pro BTW;-)

    Alll the best


  25. Dave Smith - 7 years ago

    I’m curious – what advantage(s) does iPad Pro have over an 11 inch MB Air?

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      Real-life battery life. A little portability if you don’t need a keyboard. A bigger screen. Built-in LTE.

  26. tonywmd23 - 7 years ago

    Without an adjustable kickstand like the one on the Surface Pro, it’s hard for fusion tablets to deliver a great lap typing experience (and in this regard even the Surface Pro has been scolded for failing to provide a solid lap typing experience). The crappy key striking feel of logitech keyboards can be fixed with another type cover (probably Apple’s own) but other significant problems cannot, the awkward typing angle being one and the weird typing+touching operations being another. But still, keep it, Ben. In the worst case scenario you can trade it in for at least half of its original price next year for an improved one (or maybe some time during this entire year some clever 3rd party typing accessories that solve the problems would come out and you don’t wanna miss that).

  27. Catherine Rot - 7 years ago

    I have 1 laptop (MBP17/11), 1 smartphone (iP6s), 1 main screen (ACD27), 1 dock (TB2), 1 storage solution (TB2 DAS), 1 stand (for MBP17), 1 keyboard, 1 mouse, 1 graphic tablet.

    It worked in the 90s and it works today.

    Meanwhile, Zen Master Ben is contemplating his choice of the day, while also flirting with the idea of adding yet another option to his plate. God, I love this … this … “Anglo-American condition”.

  28. drtyrell969 - 7 years ago

    What the hell is the point of slowly recreating a laptop? I feel like this is the biggest IQ test, and everyone is failing it.

  29. rdemsick - 7 years ago

    No offense but I don’t consider myself very strong and I have no idea how someone can consider the device heavy by any means. In bed reading? no problem. I guess mileage varies but I am very impressed at the light weight. The iPad pro has definitely been an iPad air replacer for me, and mostly a macbook replacer as well especially using some tasks on my imac via my iPad pro using splashtop (which its weird that this option isn’t mentioned more in the laptop replacement conversations). Writing is a different story but I have yet to get the smart keyboard so we’ll see.

  30. zomgitzpoo - 7 years ago

    Ooookay. I was right there with you in the other articles, but even from the get-go, you seem super confused. I mean you literally start off saying that the iPad Pro is terribly inconvenient for Netflix and reading, and then TWO SENTENCES LATER you’re listing watching Netflix and reading magazines, ebooks, and webpages as being the places where the iPad Pro shines. It seems more like you don’t really no what you want from this device anymore.

  31. Sabio (@zeGladScientist) - 7 years ago

    Just thinking about great uses for that screen real-estate, and musing the idea of using it as a second portable display using Duet.

    I know that has nothing to do with the reading/writing discussed in the article, but it is something to consider nonetheless. I forget if you can actually draw on the screen in Duet and have it change to text, but that could be pretty great (maybe something to suggest to those devs).

    Anyways, my mini2 just ran off on me, and your article has me thinking of investing in a cheap kindle for reading and using the Pro as my swiss-knife tool for music/design/video work. I’ll still try it out whenever Staples ships it, and see how it goes as a reader, but one of my favorite things about the mini was how I could literally just read it like a little book as I get tired. As long as the battery life is long on the Pro, it can go out in the woods with me and operate as nearly a full music studio (that extra memory comes into play here), and also allow sketches of ideas to form while in nature to come to life later. Maybe even shoot and edit video out there too. Maybe I’ll learn to draw some trees while I’m at it, lol.

    I know I’m a totally different (and “unique”) market than a writer (though I will try to do that too, cool story about the novel, btw), but thought I’d throw the bit about the second monitor usage out there since you’re enjoying the screen so much. If you can get full-resolution out of it, that could be a decent reason to keep it around. If you can split screen that app, that’d be awesome too, hadn’t thought of that until now.

    Possibilities and suchandsuch… :)

  32. charismatron - 7 years ago

    I like this review on account it’s not just a list of specs and theoretical uses. It has warmth and character from actually taking it with you, and the review, in a sense, takes us with you, too.

    It sounds like you’re going to keep it, but I’d suggest returning it and just chilling with your regular iPad for a week and ask yourself, “Does a nice, big, pretty screen really mean all that much to me when I’m already surrounded by variously sized nice, pretty screens?” I’m guessing the iPad Pro is hella fun to have around, but not so much more fun than the good ol’ iPad Air as to justify keeping both. However, proper justification and suitable actions to follow rarely ever get their time in the sun even on the best of days.

  33. golfersal - 7 years ago

    As I said in a earlier note I set, have to agree on the keyboards. They just aren’t worth the weight, but most of all the freedom on being able to use either landscape or portrait modes. Funny not one of you experts mention that about the keyboards, on how you are strapped to using the ipad pro in just landscape mode.
    But as I wrote before, I found the solution. I bought a Targus case, which has a way to keep the ipad on the table in either landscape or portrait modes, love it. The case is about the same weight as the Ipad so yes it’s heavy. But with the case I haven’t found it uncomfortable to use in bed or on a recliner.
    Now for a keyboard, I use the Logitech K760 which is the old solar power keyboard. I find the keyboard better than the Apple keyboard on my IMac. I also don’t have the problem of batteries going out, I have had this keyboard for two years with no trouble. Matter of fact they don’t make this brand anymore and I see that Amazon has two brand new ones left, so buying one of them to protect myself down the road.
    Oh one last question, no I can’t use the Ipad and keyboard on my lap, just can’t juggle it. Was able to juggle the keyboard and the Ipad air, but this is to big, heavy and bulky.
    Other than that, love my Ipad pro. But I agree 100% it’s not going to replace the IMac for most jobs. But find the screen great for reading and watching video’s and it now has great sound.

    Wonder if your outlook would of been different if you used a regular keyboard that isn’t a case???

  34. nounoursbleu - 7 years ago

    as a writer I also rely heavily on Scrivener.
    I got the iPad pro and I wondered, if literature and latte decide to finally release the iPad version of scrivener would that change your mind about the iPad pro?

    I’m also a radio journalist and have got to use audio editing software and that’s the only thing I can’t do on iPad pro. So my setup is iP6sPlus / iPad pro / Retina MacBook for audio editing.

    Also in reply to an other comment, on my iPad pro the old apple Bluetooth keyboard works very well.

    I think iPad pro will really shine once apple adapts iOS to it. It could be a really good work station / entertainment device.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      That plus a better keyboard would certainly add to the appeal. Editing is still easier on a MacBook, though, so I’m not sure whether it would persuade me to favor the iPad as a writing tool.

  35. Dave Huntley - 7 years ago

    It seems from this article Ben you are rejecting the Pro because of your choice of keyboard, which to be fair to Apple is not even theirs.

    Did you try any other keyboard? After all this article reads that you really like the Pro, despite needing to toughen up to the original ipad weight ;) as this one weighs the same, but it’s your keyboard choice that makes you want to ditch the Pro. I am not sure as a reader that that makes good sense.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      Well, it was the only keyboard offered by Apple at the time … But the bigger issue is that it can’t replace my Air 2 as it fails the ‘comfortable use in bed’ test, so it would have to offer a lot to justify that much cash invested in a second iOS device.

  36. Interesting take on the Create. Oddly I’ve had a much different experience. I never thought I’d want a keyboard on a tablet until I came to my senses as to just how awkwardly huge the IPP is in my lap without any support. I haven’t run into any of the wobbly positions (unless we’re talking about when it’s sitting on my chest in bed, anchored by my chin – I know, I’m super lazy.) I’ve also not taken it out of the house, so I can imagine being on a train there could be some balancing issues. Anyway, I have really appreciated your diaries. Thanks!

  37. Chris Minshall - 7 years ago

    Get rid of that horrible Logitech keyboard and get the Apple gel case and Smart Cover. I did and it’s a HUGE difference. I am typing in bed and having a thin device again is a totally different experience. Add an Apple Pencil to it (got lucky last night and snagged one) and you’ll be convinced. I was right there with you dude. I’m keeping mine.

  38. Will Wings Chang - 7 years ago

    Read through both reviews about the Logitech CREATE, first of all, thanks for the detailed and amazing reviews.
    Although while using it myself for about 2-3 days. I really have to say that some of the stuff I unfortunately have to disagree lol

    For example, the power / volume button hard to press. I have literally 0 difficulty at all. I feel it’s firm but pretty soft to press.

    Second, the sliding the iPad Pro in and out of the case part. Yes, it is very tight and firm, but one thing I don’t understand is, why do you need to take it in and out of the “case” frequently? It’s a protective “case” / keyboard, it’s designed to stay with the iPad in order to protect it, that’s why it’s designed to tightly to fit the iPad Pro so that when you drop it, the iPad won’t just you know, slid out.

    The only issue I have been having continuously, seems like a common problem as well, is that the keyboard disconnects on it’s own for a few seconds and connects back, also waking up the iPad by pressing random keys sometimes won’t work, you have to press the home key or lock key. Hopefully those are just a software / kernel extension issue that could be fixed via iOS update.

    Just to provide some side opinions for other people who’s interested in the case. :)

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your views. For me, the whole kit is far too thick and awkward to leave the iPad in it all the time, so I only wanted it in the case when I was using the keyboard. I didn’t have any of the random disconnects you saw – the connection for me was totally reliable, so might be worth getting that checked out.

  39. Cass Foster - 7 years ago

    Aloha. Just bought the iPad Pro and it really is sweet. However I do a lot of writing and (probably not wise) have become dependent on my wireless mouse. My Bluetooth has me connected to my MacBook so now I need to figure out how to connect to my MacBook while using my Pro but not my Logitech mouse doesn’t show up on Bluetooth. Is if possible to use it on my iPad Pro?


Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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