iPad Pro 10.5 inch: Back on an Apple computing device, but not the one I anticipated

It's been a few years since I've used an Apple computer, and I was considering a new MacBook prior to the recent WWDC event. I ended up saving some money and buying a more portable Apple device instead.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer

Apple unveils new 10.5-inch iPad Pro

It was 1989 when I started using my first Apple computer, the Macintosh SE with an external 20 MB hard drive, and since then I've had an assortment of Apple devices. A few years ago I moved to the Microsoft Surface Pro line for my primary computer, but have been thinking of going back to a MacBook.

There have been distinct differences between MacOS and iOS, but with the upcoming iOS 11 those lines are blurring more and more. Thanks to iOS 11 shown off at WWDC 2017, I decided to purchase a new iPad Pro 10.5 instead of the more expensive MacBook Pro. While I won't see the advantages of iOS 11 for a few months, ZDNet's Jason Cipriani's full review convinced me it was worth it to start using an iPad Pro now.

On launch day I ordered a 256GB Wi-Fi model, but switched to a 64GB cellular one yesterday because I remember how useful integrated LTE was on my last iPad. Even though I can tether a phone, it is still more convenient to have LTE on the iPad itself. I've been using the iPad Pro 10.5 for several days and am pleased to have an Apple computing device, besides my iPhone 7 Plus, back in my hands.

While I use a Surface Pro 4 as my primary computer, I only use it in tablet mode about 5 percent of the time. It is a very capable tablet, but it's too thick, heavy, and awkward for me to embrace as a tablet that I use around my house and around the office in meetings and such.

I don't plan to just use the iPad Pro 10.5 as a media tablet though, and will be attempting to use it for the following tasks I typically perform on the Surface Pro 4:

  • Writing and posting ZDNet articles
  • Editing photos for ZDNet articles and reviews
  • Reading books
  • Working with email
  • Social network interactions
  • Reviewing and marking up PDF documents
  • Taking notes in meetings and during my commute
  • Working on some book ideas during my commute
  • Creating and editing Excel spreadsheets and Word documents
  • Viewing and marking up AutoCAD engineering drawings
  • VPN access to job folders

As I look across the apps and documents I have stored on my Surface Pro 4, I think an iPad Pro may be able to do everything on my list, with an OS that is extremely responsive and fun to use.

At this time, I think the only real limitation will be in recording the MobileTechRoundup podcast. Kevin and I record locally with Audacity while on a Skype call and I haven't found a solution for that task.

There are many things an iPad Pro does better than a Surface Pro 4, including offline video support for multiple services. If my trials work out as I anticipate, I may even consider switching out the 10.5 for the 12.9 inch display model. We'll see how it goes since I'm not excited about spending another few hundred dollars on the large model and accessories.

Have you replaced a computer with an iPad? I would be interested in hearing about your experiences and pain points.

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