Why the 12.9" iPad Pro Is Still My Favorite Computer

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Apple has been very busy. We’re only halfway through June and already it has launched what feels like a year’s worth of new products, including the latest models of the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. And while I’ve tested the MacBook Pro, and can confirm that it is indeed excellent, I still contend that my favorite computer isn’t really a computer at all. It’s the 12.9" iPad Pro.

Apple 12.9" iPad Pro (Previous Generation)

Respect Your Elders

Before I explain why the iPad Pro is my favorite “computer,” I want to make clear that I’m talking about the previous generation of iPads. This year, Apple launched the newest version of the iPad Pro, which, admittedly, does look pretty great. But it’s not the one I own. Nor is it one I’ve personally reviewed, so I can’t say how good it is, because honestly, I don’t know for certain.

I do know how good the previous generation of the iPad Pro is. I’ve spent hundreds of hours with it and have seen firsthand what it can do and what it allows me to do—which, in short, is everything. That’s why it’s my favorite computer. Because not only is it easy to carry around and take pretty much anywhere, it allows me to do whatever I want, whenever I want.

All-Day Device

When I first reviewed the iPad Pro, I wanted to highlight how useful it was as an all-day device. To me, the iPad Pro’s versatility is what makes it such a great product. On any given day, I use it as a media player, a teleconferencing tool, a word processor, a canvas, a notepad, and an Internet browser. I watch movies on it. I write articles. I create digital illustrations and touch up photos. I video-chat with coworkers, friends, and family. Literally everything I’ve ever done on a laptop, I’ve been able to do on my iPad Pro, and then some.

Believe in Magic

Now, if we’re being totally honest, on its own, the iPad Pro doesn’t actually let me do everything I want. But you just said that it did! I know, I know. I forgot to mention one key provision: the Magic Keyboard.

When it comes to displays, the iPad Pro can definitely hold its own against most laptops. Its edge-to-edge Liquid Retina display is objectively gorgeous. Where it can’t compete nearly as well is the keyboard—mainly because it doesn’t have one. Yes, you can use the on-screen digital keyboard for most typing applications, but that simply cannot compare to a using physical keyboard, no matter how you spin it. Which is why you have to get the Magic Keyboard.

Apple Magic Keyboard for 12.9" iPad Pro

When it comes to keyboards, I’ve always been very particular. If the feedback is off or the travel time is too short or if the keys have a weird texture, I physically cannot use it. To me, every keystroke is like scratching my nails on a chalkboard. The reason I mention all that is so you’ll understand how ridiculous I am when it comes to keyboards, and so you’ll know I mean it when I say the Magic Keyboard is one of my top three favorite keyboards of all time—maybe top two.

Now, because judging a keyboard is at least somewhat subjective, I won’t go into too much detail why I think the Magic Keyboard is so great. But what I will say, and this is more of an objective observation, is that the Magic Keyboard effectively turns your iPad Pro into a laptop. Once you’ve paired the two, you get a laptop experience that is very similar to what you’ll find with the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air; plus, you’ll have the option of detaching the keyboard and using the iPad Pro as a tablet whenever you like.

Newer Doesn’t Always Mean Better

Considering that I’ve been talking about the previous generation of the iPad Pro, you might be wondering: Well, if the previous gen is so good, shouldn’t the newer model be even better? That is a totally reasonable question with an answer that might surprise you: yes, but not by much.

While the latest model of the iPad Pro does boast some pretty cool new features and upgrades (more RAM and new LiDAR tech, for example), it doesn’t seem to offer anything that would make it superior to the previous generation—at least, not within the context of my overall argument. There are plenty of features the new iPad Pro has that the previous generation doesn’t, but none of them elevate it to the point where I think it’s a better machine for me.

Consider performance speed. Apple isn’t super forthcoming when it comes to the processor speeds of its devices, but multiple benchmarking tests put the latest version of the iPad Pro only slightly ahead of the previous generation. So, in general, it’s superfast, but it’s not so much faster that I would ever really notice or think about upgrading.

The other question you might be asking, especially if you just watched the most recent WWDC, is whether or not the previous gen will support all the new features that were just announced, as well as the upcoming OS upgrade. Yes, it will. At this year’s WWDC, Apple announced plans to roll out a ton of new software features and upgrades for the iPad Pro, all of which the previous generation will fully support.

Take Care

If you are thinking about picking up an iPad Pro, I have one final suggestion. In addition to the Magic Keyboard, I would also recommend investing in AppleCare+, Apple’s signature protection plan. I make this recommendation begrudgingly. Not because I don’t think it’s worth it, but because I’m still mad that the one time in my life I didn’t have AppleCare+ on my iPhone was of course the only time I’ve ever dropped it and the screen cracked. B&H currently has some really great deals on the iPad Pro and Magic Keyboard, but even still, they aren’t exactly cheap. If you’re going to pick up one or both of these products, I advise you not to be like me. Protect your investment; pick it up with AppleCare+.

The combination of iPad Pro and Magic Keyboard continues to be my favorite alternative to the traditional laptop. They’re the reason I haven’t purchased a new computer in years. Of course, I realize what makes them so great has a lot to do with what I need from a computer, which might not be the same for you. If you need help deciding whether or not the iPad Pro would be a good fit, or if you have any questions in general about the iPad Pro, be sure to drop us a line in the Comments section, below, give us a call at 800.606.6969, or reach out to our Chat team.

3 Comments

Hi, I am trying to decide between the new iPad Pro and the new MacBook Air. I prefer the touchscreen capabilities of the iPad but for the next two years I will be mostly using which ever I get for writing. Currently, when I switch between my 2018 Air and my iPad (2016 11.4.1) in a Word document I seem to lose functionality. For example: right clicking’ a word on my iPad does not offer me synonyms as it does on the Air. As well, Word on my iPad does not underline grammar issues. Is this caused because my iPad is old or does MSWord not have the same capabilities on an iPad as it does on an Air? Losing functionality in Word would mean having to choose between a touchscreen and word processing. Looking forward to hearing your views. Thanks, C

Unfortunately, Microsoft Word would have different features on iOS versus using it on your Macbook Air. For the most capabilities, sticking with Word your Macbook Air would be the way go.

Thank you for an honest review.  My MacBook Pro started overheating and exhibiting unstable reliability.  I picked up an iPad Pro 12.9 and struggled with its flimsy keyboard for 6 months, before discovering the Logitech backlit sturdy keyboard that transformed the iPads performance!  Since working at home for several months, it now works in conjunction with a 27” iMac, all purchased from B&H.  The native photo editing tool is a pleasure to use with Raw files from the Z6.   

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