Video: Hands-on with Apple's new 9.7-inch iPad for education
I've wanted to do this ever since I bought a 12.9-inch iPad Pro last year.
You see, I wanted to believe all the ads that tell me an iPad Pro is actually a computer that's trimmed itself a little and had a makeover and Botox at the Cupertino Salon.
I also wanted to believe I could travel even more lightly than I do today. Because we all want to lighten our many burdens, don't we?
Could my iPad Pro make me forget about my wonderful, but getting-a-touch-dowdy-as-Apple-hasn't-really-updated-it-for-years, MacBook Air? After all, it costs as much.
Let's open it and find out.
I've always used the iPad Pro for watching movies, videos, and occasionally reading media. I know Tim Cook says he only travels with an iPad Pro for a computer, but I suspect his emails often contain fewer than 15 words, of which regular appearances are made by do, it, and now.
I get paid for, um, lyricism.
Here's the first problem. I write on my lap. Isn't that what laptops are for? I often put my feet up on some kind of ottoman or animal (kidding), bring my knees up, and balance the lower front edge of my MacBook Air on my stomach. (Writers are weird. Please discuss.)
Yet try and unfold your iPad Pro official Apple keyboard onto your lap and the screen folds toward you.
The base isn't solid. It's in two parts, after all.
My traditional form of typing looks like it's out.
So I realize I have to put it on a flat surface. (My thighs have, er, high muscle definition, don't you know. Flat, they're not.)
I've now, therefore, perched it on a coffee table, which means I'm hunched over. This is about as comfortable as lunch with an ex-lover's mother. But I'll persevere. I do it for you, remember.
Now to the second little problem: The keyboard isn't awful to type on, but the keys feel smaller. I'm gingerly ensuring my fingers get to the correct keys, rather than typing away with more open, fast hands on the Air.
This is to be expected on a first try. And, yes, I quite enjoy that the keyboard isn't excessively noisy.
However, it isn't perfectly flat. The left-hand side is curled slightly upward, which means that every time I press, say, an S or an A, the whole keyboard descends a little on that side.
Adding links is a nuisance, as when I'm looking to link to an article from elsewhere, my iPad automatically drifts to apps, rather than the web.
Then there's the business of using your finger on the screen instead of a natural click of your track pad. I'm sure I could get used to it. Oh, perhaps I'm lying. It's like learning to be a switch-hitter after a career hitting from one side, especially when you're editing.
The lack of a track pad is painfully noticeable.
There's also nowhere for my hands to rest, which they generally do on the bottom of my Air, either side of the track pad.
Look, my back's hurting too much. I'm going to have to move.
Right, now I'm at a desk. The desk must be slightly more perfectly flat than my 30-year-old coffee table. Now, both sides of the keyboard stick up a little.
Ergo, every keystroke comes with a peculiar descent of the whole keyboard. It's as if I was typing on my own cheek.
Becoming attached to one particular type of gadget can be hard. I can type on my MacBook Air in the seated position or lying down. For a writer -- well, this writer -- the iPad Pro is more restrictive.
You can't tilt the screen as you can with an Air. Not being able to easily make physical adjustments is one of the compromises you're forced to make. Of course, the screen is gorgeous, but looks aren't enough. This is work.
Still, I didn't want to be defeated. So I removed the keyboard, went back to my usual slightly slouchy typing position, and tried to use the built-in keyboard that pops up at the bottom of the screen.
My, did autocorrect come in useful. This was like a five-year-old trying to play Chopsticks for the first time.
This must have been why Apple invented the magnetically attached keyboard.
I know some filmmakers pick up iPhone X and decide it's all they need to make a movie. And I watch my wife joyously use her Apple Pencil to make notes and draw things on her smaller iPad.
Me, I've tried to adjust the position of this iPad at least 16 times since I started writing. I've committed at least three times as many typos as usual (which would be around 270).
It still doesn't feel like a writer's tool.
So I'm now back to my MacBook Air, in order to add some finishing touches.
I can't therefore see how an iPad Pro is a computer. Because a computer's for writing, right?
Until we're all writing in the universal language of Emoji, I suppose.
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