The iPad Pro 9.7: replacing my laptop?

So I needed a device for university. I always thought about getting a Surface because I figured it would be the best device. It has a pen, a beautifully large display, it’s fast and responsive and it runs a full version of Windows. However, when the time to actually purchase a new computer has come, EUR 999 (at least) were just too much.

So I looked for alternatives. Unfortunately I have not found anything nearly interesting that runs Windows. I mean sure, there were some devices that caught my attention but none of these were really convincing. However, I’ve seen some reviews on YouTube and saw that the iPad Pro is actually capable of most of the things that I need a computer to do.

Before I got the iPad I was using a Samsung Series 9 Ultrabook with a 124gb SSD storage and an Intel Core i5 processor. It fairly did a good job and I was really happy with it. However, I wanted something with a Pen. What I also wanted was power. Not THAT much since I am not really doing any stuff that requires a lot of computing power. However, I wanted to have a backup. Seldom, but still sometimes, I edit pictures or cut a video. That’s why I want a device that is able to do that – and that is also why I did not want the Surface 3 (without Pro). Do not get me wrong, I am quite certain that the Surface 3 will manage all that stuff. The thing is just that the Intel Atom processor limits it in how it does it. So I have chosen the iPad Pro 9.7, which is almost as powerful as a Surface Pro 4 (seriously, see yourself)…

Isn’t the iPad just as expensive as a Surface?

Funnily, with the iPad Pro 9.7 inch I spend a lot less money than I would have spent on the Surface Pro 4. The 32gb base model (32gb seem to be enough for me since I store most things in the cloud and I do not take pictures or videos with a tablet) was about EUR 630. The Apple Pencil that I also ordered was EUR 114. Since the Surface Pro 4 comes with a pen that makes it EUR 744 vs. 999. Please do not think I am comparing the iPad to the Surface. I am not and further below you will see why. For the things that I need on the other hand, which is a device with a pen for note taking, that is nonetheless a huge price difference.

Additionally, you also need a keyboard. It would not be fair to say you have to buy the original ones because there are cheaper ones available for both. I decided to go with a Logitech universal Bluetooth keyboard for EUR 35. The Apple Smart Keyboard was not only too expensive, I also didn’t like its keys and that it only had one viewing position. Since the Logitech keyboard does not feature a stand for my iPad whatsoever, I also needed a separate one. I ordered one over Amazon for EUR 19.

That makes it EUR 798 for the iPad. If I had chosen the same keyboard I ordered for the iPad if I had bought a Surface, that would have been EUR 1034. However, that would mean I would be using Windows 10 without a mouse. This is absolutely possible but considering how badly some elements of Windows 10 are optimized for finger usage, I would definitely have gotten a mouse. Okay, I already have a mouse. I just do not take it with me anywhere, this is what the touchpad is for. The iPad, however, does not need and cannot be used with a mouse, even on the go. Windows on the other hand… And just taking the Bluetooth mouse with me does not really go with the portability thing that I require for that device (which is a absolutely subjective point), so I would have gotten the original Surface type cover, which is EUR 120. Just to be clear: for on the go usage I do not need the keyboard, that is what my pen is for. I only want to make hand written notes when I am on the go. Longer texts are written at home. However, I still want to use the device in a good way and there is no way I can attach only a touchpad to the Surface, so I would have gotten with the original Surface type cover. In other words, the Surface would not have cost me approx. EUR 1030, but about EUR 1120. This is way too much for me. Even if we say I don’t really need a mouse, EUR 800 vs EUR 1030 is still a difference. And even if you find a cheaper price for the Surface, the difference would still be quite immense.

Again, I am not comparing those two devices. I am sure the Surface is worth a thousand Euros since it can do a lot more than the iPad because it is not running a mobile, but a full desktop OS. And after the first day with the iPad I can say with a hundred percent certainty that Apple’s slogan “the tablet that can replace your computer” is absolutely wrong. This device will not replace any computer…

…that is if you need one. Because when I played around with the iPad it made me reconsider if I really need a full computer. Even on my old Ultrabook I have not used many of the “pro-elements” of that device. Since the iPad does, however, have not so little pro applications in the App Store, I think that it is quite possible that the iPad can replace the computer for those people who do stuff but not on a highly professional level. This is what I want to try out in the next two weeks (which is the time I can still send the iPad back to get a full refund). If I see that the iPad can be my university and working computer, I will keep it.

So of course I cannot write a full review of that device just yet. Also, considering how many reviews there already are out there I do not want to write a review. I rather check if it is possible to live with an iPad and no computer whatsoever. Let’s call this something like an experiment.

My setup. The Windows computer on the right is for my home office job and has nothing to do with my personal computer.
My setup. The Windows computer on the right is for my home office job and has nothing to do with my personal computer.

The device itself

Since I cannot tell you more just yet, let me very quickly do the review-ish part: how is the device in general. Let that be the first part of this review sort of thing. In this article I will tell you about the device, in the second part I will write about my experiences with the iPad as a PC replacement.

The iPad as a device is awesome! The display is stunningly beautiful. With a feature called True Tone turned on, the display really doesn’t look like a display but more like a sheet of paper or so. The performance is great too. Everything runs butterfly smooth. I already did light 4K video cutting and rendering just to check how well the iPad can handle that and even while rendering a 4K video everything ran smoothly and fast. That is what I mean by I want to have at least some power for backup. The camera is the same as on my iPhone. In other words – it’s great for sure, but I do miss some of the features of my old Lumia 1520 which, as you might now, sports a 20MPX Pure View camera.

The Apple Pencil is awesome. It is very precise and handy. I like how you can charge it by plugging it into the iPad, just in case you run out of battery on the go. What I also like is the fact that it turns off after a while and automatically turns on again when you simply pick it up. That is neat! Anyway, there are also two things that I dislike. The battery only lasts about 10 hours (at least that is what apple claims). I cannot say that it lasts longer or shorter, but I can say that I see the battery draining. That sucks. Another thing I noticed is that when Bluetooth is turned off on the iPad, be it via flight mode or manually, to reconnect the Apple Pencil it is needed to plug it into the iPad for three seconds. Just turning Bluetooth on again will not do the thing. That is just stupid.

Inking works well!
Inking works well!
...and drawing looks good too. Well, if I had talent...
…and drawing looks good too. Well, if I had talent…

The first usage

Now let us face it. IOS, even macOS and Windows are very different. So the worklflow is very different too. The way I did things on Windows will not get me anywhere on the iPad, but I think everyone who considers switching to an iPad or even Mac knows that. A good example is actually Microsoft Office. Of course that is the software that I use on the iPad, there is no office software better than that. The way things work is just very different. On Windows I was able to create complex tables directly in Word. On the iPad I can only do the basics. For creating complex tables I need to go into Excel, create it, and then copy it into Word. Thanks to the way iOS works with its shortcuts and gestures, I do not think that this is a more complicated or worse way by any means. It is just very different and it takes some time to get used to it.


That is how you can use your iPad with gestures and keyboard shortcuts. Well, some of them, since there are a lot more that I don’t know about yet.

This video was captured on an iPhone 6s Plus and edited only on the iPad Pro. I used the standard video editor to cut the videos. Then I added them into iMovie which came pre installed, removed their soundtrack and spoke into the microphone of the iPad to add a new one. I have never done anything like this before and I am really not good at it. After all, I did not even have a tripod for my phone so I just tried to hold it as steadily as possible. However, what, besides the gestures and shortcuts of course, the video also shows, is that the iPad is perfectly capable of cutting, editing and rendering 4K footage. The available features will also be enough for the average user. And last but not least, the iPad lost only about 10 percent of battery during approx. 1h of work on that 4K material. Seems to be efficient!

Using a computer without a mouse is also very weird at first. But after using iOS for a while and seeing how easy it is, I got used to it very quickly. Here and there I still need some learning. I mean hey, I own the iPad for three days only. For example I still need to learn a lot of keyboard shortcuts, but progress is there.

Keyboard shortcuts help make things easier.
Keyboard shortcuts help make things easier.

One thing that caught my attention right away was how well the iPad works with my iPhone. After configuring my new tablet I immediately had all my settings and files on my iPad. Contacts, accounts (even with passwords), app data. Basically everything. And if I start something like typing an email on my tablet I can resume doing that on my phone (or vice versa) with just the press of a button. The way my two iDevices communicate is simply awesome.

One more thing that I did not consider before: consuming stuff. To be honest, this was not even something I remotely found important when I looked for a new computer for university, but it is certainly very nice to have. Thanks to all the apps on iOS and the compact measures of the iPad (screen size, thickness, weight), the tablet is great for consuming. Be it movies or games, or even music (it has very nice speakers!), the iPad does a better job than any Windows device out there. Expect the gaming part of corse, but I am talking about tablets and notebooks, not gaming PCs. Still, this is not that much of an important point that I would keep the iPad solely for this, even after I find out that it doesn’t fill my productivity needs.

That is it for now. The experiment will go for about two weeks. After that I will decide whether the iPad fills my needs or not, and of course I will let you know.





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