Woof. That's a big iPad.
Yesterday - after finishing some writing I'd been aching to wrap up - I paid my local Apple Store a visit to check out the launch of the iPad Pro. I'd heard lots of different reports about availability of the device and its respective accessories online, so I figured that it wouldn't hurt to go check the situation and the device out for myself.
Well, as the quite intentional quotations in the title may have alluded to... there wasn't much of a launch to be found.
According to some of the staff I talked to, they weren't actually supposed to receive or be selling any stock of the iPad Pro until this Friday morning, but Apple decided to spring the device on them early anyways and just send what they could. The result was a little bit of a silly launch, but I'm certain it was convenient for those in search of a Pro who hadn't ordered online.
There was only one demo unit in the store which I, several other customers, and a host of geniuses were all sharing and checking out alike. I got to use the device for a bit and talk with the staff who were there, and overall just got to form some initial impressions. Most of the things I've thought were already said someplace on the Internet yesterday across the many quality reviews that were published, but I do have a handful of random thoughts which I still would like to broadcast - so here they are.
- It is big. In my time at the store it went from seeming smaller than I had imagined, to seeming impossibly huge again all within the 20-30 minutes I was using it. I got to try a couple of different apps, and I couldn't decide if they were enhanced by the larger size or just a bit ludicrously large. Multitasking was very at home - if your iOS workflow depends on it then I doubt there's another device you should be using right now.
- The Pencil was just as good as the reviews say. My handwriting and signature looked extremely similar to how they do on a piece of paper, and the latency while using Apple's Notes app was bang-on. None to be seen. I could produce a slight lag when drawing quickly in Adobe Photoshop Sketch, but I think that's more a matter of apps still having to optimize their various brushes and inks with Apple's new APIs - it will get better with time.
- The Smart Keyboard was delightful. As someone who loves the feel of the new Magic Keyboard, the Smart Keyboard is not a big jump to make. It's keys have slightly less travel, but the feel of the fabric-covered mechanisms is really pleasant, and I liked the sort of springy-feeling in use. It's not all that attractive when folded up, but it is a seemingly-decent keyboard that you can keep on your iPad all the time and not worry about having to charge. I'd buy one if I were getting a Pro.
- Speaking of which, the Pro was apparently selling quite well at the Apple Store I visited. A staff member estimated that they must've sold over 200 iPad Pro's that day - and while I was there I probably witnessed close to another 7 or 8 walking out the door with new owners. There weren't any accessories available to purchase - the only ones there being used at the demo table - which unfortunately seems to be the norm across US Apple stores. There seems to be demand for the Pro though, even with the somewhat half-assed retail launch - promising for when more of the public realizes the Pro has now gone on sale.
- As for me, I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the Pro. It's large screen is undoubtedly good for multitasking and viewing more immersive content, but I don't know if those are things that take priority in use for me.
- I do know that the biggest turn-off to the Pro for me by far is its sheer bulk. Both in my own use and in watching other customers try out the new device I noticed that it was too heavy to use in one hand comfortably for more than a minute or two. I watched as several people picked up the Pro and started demoing the sketching or web browsing, only to place it back down on the table once their hand had gotten tired. I use my iPad Air 2 every day in one hand to read whilst walking around, to transport it from place to place around my house or my favorite cafe, and I really rely on it being a supremely portable device. The Pro - while being a powerhouse, multitasking and consumption boon, and the latest iOS hotness - doesn't seem like it would fit my needs in that way at all.
Or you know, maybe that's just me soothing my wallet's fears. I'm glad the Pro exists to keep pushing the iPad platform forward in hardware, software, and in the public conscience as an option that can actually get work done - it's just not for me at the moment.
Maybe in the future you'll find me grasping Apple's largest tablet, but for now the iPad Air 2 still satisfies in every way.