Can iPad Pro Replace a Laptop?

I typically use my 13″ MacBook Pro for everything.  It links into my desk and becomes a desktop and follows me to most meetings outside of my office.  I use the iPad Pro 9.7″ for taking a lot of notes and research on the fly.

Since I’ve been using Microsoft Office 365 and BOX, I have been able to really utilize the cloud more .  With all of my documents available there and all of my systems being web based I’m going to ditch the MacBook Pro for a week and use the iPad Pro exclusively for both personal, educational, and professional use.

Now let me say that as far as computing power goes the iPad Pro is no where near my MacBook Pro but everyone uses their technology differently.  My initial thought is that an iPad can replace a laptop for very basic users.  So as someone who is much more needy than your basic user I’m going to put it to the test and let you know what I find.

Work

Thanks to Apple’s vast App Store I’m able to load up the apps I use the most on my MacBook Pro.  This includes, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook, OneNote, Canvas, and BOX  Keep in mind I use built in apps such as Messages and Safari a ton as well.

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I struggled a bit with one of my employers websites getting to a source we use to take meeting minutes but with some cleaver multi-touch gestures I was able to get where I was going.

The Microsoft Suite of apps works brilliantly and makes saving within O365 and BOX very easy.  This means I’ll be able to pull them up on my laptop next week when I come back to it.

The iPad Pro Smart Keyboard is fantastic and has become very easy to type on very quickly.  I would say it’s about 80% to scale of the keyboard on the MacBook Pro.

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Since my office work isn’t very demanding the iPad Pro handles a lot of my 9-5 duties extremely well.

Photography

Now one of the things I use my laptop for the most is for my Photography.  I use Adobe’s Creative Cloud with Bridge, Photoshop, and Lightroom .  Much of what I do with those applications is simple color and light corrections.  I do little or no touching up of photos so perhaps Adobe’s Lightroom for iOS is enough.

 

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Adobe Lightroom on the iPad Pro


Just like my new MacBook Pro my iPad is all about dongles…  Since we’ve only got the Lightning port I needed to get a SD to Lightning adapter to be able to upload my photos on the go.  The preview and upload speeds of the lightning to SD card reader is dreadfully slow.  This is huge drawback even if I just want to preview some photos on a larger screen. I understand that I’m asking for 30Mb Raw images to load fast but again this is a real world test against my MacBook Pro.

 

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The iPad Pro is a decent tool to have but it by no means is ready to completely replace my MacBook Pro for photo use.  I was really hoping to even just have it to dump photos off of my SD cards on the go but since it’s so slow, I don’t think I’ll be doing much of it.

Personal Use

I’d have to say what I miss so far about the MacBook Pro is the true multitasking.  Sure the iPad Pro allows you have two windows open at once (3 if one of them is a video) but it just doesn’t feel as fluent.  Now granted when I’m in the office I’m connected to two 27″ displays with my MacBook Pro so it’s not entirely fair to compare but this is something iv’e gotten very use to.  This may be just growing pains at the moment but it does slow down my productivity.

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True Multi-Tasking on iPad Pro (Safari, Photos, and Watch ESPN)

The iPad is a nice addition to my laptop but I feel much more productive using my MacBook Pro as my primary device.

School Work

There are a lot of times I still prefer hand write my notes with pen and paper.

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Apple Pencil working in Microsoft OneNote

Sure it really defeats the purpose to having a keyboard but the Apple Pencil does allow me to do more than just write.  Being able to annotate and highlight readings I have for class has been a HUGE help for me.

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iPad Pro and Apple Pencil using Microsoft OneNote

I store ever reading that I’ll need to do for class digitally so I can take advantage of this technique.  It’s really helped me stay prepared for class lectures and discussions.

Multitasking when using the Microsoft Office makes a bit more sense than it does for most other applications.  I admit I really don’t use the split screen option very often.

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Split Screen using Microsoft OneNote and Word

I know students that use this device as their only device for school.  I wouldn’t feel as comfortable with this because you’re relying a lot on the cloud.  Call me old school but I still prefer to store much of my data locally.  I frequently have to pull things off of my computer via a USB flash drive and move it over to a classroom machine for presentations.  This would be much more difficult only using the iPad Pro.

To sum up, the iPad Pro is an extremely capable device.  For some people I think it really could be their only device.  Me on the other hand have too many needs and am set in my ways too much to make this type of change to a completely mobile based operating system.

 

Apple MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

This week my new MacBook Pro finally arrived.  To be specific it’s configured as follows.

Apple 13″ MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (Space Gray)
2.9Ghz i5 Processor, 16Gb of Ram & 512Gb of Flash Storage.

Size and Weight

It’s noticeably lighter than the non USB-C model.  (.46lbs lighter)  Also the bezel on the screen is much thinner around the edges and the machine is noticeably thinner. (.11″ thinner)

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The Transition

My biggest concern migrating to this machine from my 13″ MacBook Pro with Retina display, was like most people, the transition to solely USB-C ports.  To give you an idea here is what my old setup looked like.

 

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So as you can see there is a LOT going on here.  Most would probably say, “Just buy an iMac or a MacPro.” But the fact is I need to be portable with my photography.  My main obstacle was going to be getting the Belkin Thunderbolt 2 Dock to work with a Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 adapter to work sending data, audio, and video flawlessly.  Because remember the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar does not have anything but an Audio Jack and 4 Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports.

I was thrilled to learn that Apple’s adapter worked just as anticipated.  Problem is that was not the only adapter I was going to need to make all of this work.  In fact here is a list of all the adapters I did need.

1 Apple Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter
1 Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter
2 Apple USB-C to USB-A Adapters

This very quickly tacked on another $100 but if it wasn’t for my Belkin dock still working that $100 would have easily turned into almost $300.

As for the USB-C transition it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be.  My setup now looks like this.

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Not awful.  My biggest concern right now is I don’t have an SD card reading option.  9to5Mac did a poll on which port users use most and surprising only 18%+ people use that SD port regularly.  The photographers of the world might disagree.  Of course for another $30 Apple has the Adapter Available.

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The Speeds

I must also note that the read write speeds of the built in flash storage is ridiculously fast. To give you a comparison here is the read/write speed of an External HD, Flash Drive, and Built in Flash Storage.

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Apple Built In Flash
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USB Hard Drive
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USB Flash Drive

I’m really blown away with these speeds.  Even with the entry level i5 processor tasks like rendering in Final Cut Pro fly.  I maxed out the non-upgradable ram to 16GB.  Most people wish they had a 32GB option even it was exclusive to the 15″ model but 16GB will cover most people outside of creative professionals. If you’re going to do any upgrades at all upgrade the ram from 8-16GB.

As I mentioned the internal flash storage is wicked fast but if you can live with 256GB of storage internally and the rest on externals you’ll save yourself $200.

The Touch Bar

5 days into own thing this machine and the only thing I’ve used the Touch Bar for is changing the screen brightness.  I think the success of this feature is going to depend heavily on how third party apps incorporate their functionality into it.  Apple current uses it for predictive typing, showing my tabs in a safari browser, and your standard function keys and although I’ll admit it’s very fast, I just don’t see a ton of value in it.

Touch ID

This is Apple’s first computer to incorporate a Touch ID sensor similar to their mobile lineup.  They use it for the same functions such as unlocking the machine and approving Apple Pay transactions.  I don’t use it much as I do not use Apple Pay online and my Apple Watch typically unlocks my machine for me.  Interesting fact the Touch ID sensor also acts as a physical power button for force shut downs.

Overall Impression

The size and weight of the machine are easily my favorite part of the update.  Carrying it around in my camera bag the weight makes a huge difference.  If your considering upgrading I would heavily consider the pervious model that Apple is still producing.  You’ll save hundreds of dollars, not have the burden of having to carry so many dongles around, and still have an extremely capable machine.  As time goes on a USB-C becomes more mainstream it’ll make more sense but until now it’s not completely necessary.