Don’t give up on the iPad Pro dream
It’s still the best travel computer... for me, anyway
I’m afraid it is once again time for iPad productivity discourse. I’ve been meaning to write about this for a few months, ever since Jason Snell wrote an insightful piece at Six Colors called "Giving up the iPad-only travel dream", which is about what it sounds like. Right now I find myself on a shinkansen to Kyoto with an iPad Pro and time to kill, so here we are.
The first iPad came out in April 2010, and I immediately took to it as my sole portable computer. I already had a clunky iMac in the corner of my tiny Osaka apartment that served as my TV and stereo; the setup worked for me, and I never really felt the need to use a Mac or any other PC outside the home. My iPad was the perfect companion for the hours I'd spend on trains commuting to work at shopping malls in obscure Kansai towns.
A year and a half later, I fell into becoming a tech journalist and reluctantly bought an 11-inch MacBook Air, a machine much less suited to reading newspapers on winding mountain railroads but quite a bit better at writing and researching with IRC running in the background. Since then, the tradeoffs between the platforms have ebbed and flowed. I find myself gravitating to one or the other as the years go by, mostly because of how Apple decides to treat each of them at any given moment.
Snell’s piece is well-written and explains his personal use cases in detail, so I'm not here to argue with it. But I found the timing interesting because of my own recent experiences. I’d recently returned from a fortnight in Canada where I brought nothing but my iPad Pro, and I’ve been on a few more laptop-free trips since. Everyone’s use case is different, but if you use computers on the go like I do, I really don't think there's ever been a better time to drop the laptop from your carry-on.
My initial inclination to make iPad productivity work was sparked by my interest in the hardware. It's not that I necessarily thought touchscreens or blown-up phone operating systems were a better paradigm for computing, but Apple was simply putting out better products on the iPad side.
The standard-issue tech journalist laptop at the time was the 13-inch MacBook Air, a design introduced in 2010 and sold unchanged for a frankly unconscionable nine years. It had a TN panel that looked outdated at launch, never mind a couple of years later once Retina displays came to the MacBook Pro and the iPad. I did like my 11-inch Air for its portability, but at no point did it feel like cutting-edge technology.
I swapped my original iPad out for an iPad 2 in 2011 and the first Retina model in 2012, because of SoftBank's unsustainably generous upgrade policies. I continued to use them as my primary non-work computers. But the first iPad that I really attempted to slot into my professional life was the iPad Air 2 in 2014.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Multicore to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.