Posted on June 2, 2016 by staff

Gadget Gavin: Apple iPad Pro can replace your laptop


Self-confessed geek Gavin Wheeldon puts Apple’s ‘beast’ through its paces on a business trip.

I love gadgets – hence the name of the column – so when Apple produced their iPad Pro, I just knew I had to have one.

Thankfully I’ve not descended to the point that I’m prepared to queue outside stores in the middle of the night in all weathers – but I did wake up especially early to order mine through the Apple Store app.

Even I can even wait a couple of business days for delivery!

When I got to the checkout stage, the problems began. Although delivery on the actual iPad was one or two business days, there was a one- or two-week delay on the two shiny new accessories that it needs – namely the pencil and smart cover.

Without these extras, it’s effectively a big iPad.

That was a step too far for my patience so I decided I’d wait until I went to Heathrow later the same say.

“Surely Dixons will have some,” I mused. Not so.

It appears that the stylus the late Steve Jobs believed nobody would ever want or need is coveted by everybody – and Apple clearly underestimated demand for it (or held it back to create a pent-up desire…)

Anyway, after a five-week wait (yes, five weeks!!!) the three pieces all came together and I was set to go. It was around half the weight of my MacBook Air, so my aching shoulders certainly approved.

The key question was this: could I do everything I needed to on a business trip on the iPad Pro?

The checklist was as follows:

  1. Could I use email, Skype, Jabber and all the other tools in an efficient manner?
  2. Could I present on an HDMI and VGA screen in meetings?
  3. Could I work on Powerpoint, Excel and Word in a comfortable way?
  4. Could I watch a movie back at the hotel in the evening?

If I could get a ‘yes’ to all of these, it would need a rethinking of the world order.

The day-to-day stuff was OK in terms of emails and other productivity tools. However, even with the keyboard, there was a lag and a disconnected feeling when you switched from typing to touching that still didn’t feel as efficient.

Presenting was great. The lightning to VGA/HDMI worked brilliantly and the swiping through actually felt a bit more intuitive, so it was a big tick in the box for that.

Working in Powerpoint and Excel was a bit clunky so anything other than a little titivation is going to get frustrating very quickly, although Word was much better. As for watching a movie, that was a resounding yes.

The big upside – and the reason why I’ll end up with both in my bag – is that the pencil is absolutely brilliant.

I have a graveyard of notebooks and have lost too many to mention. If I want to find something, it’s a nightmare – and then you have to type it up.

The pencil is so intuitive and natural-feeling that I actually enjoyed writing notes. Everything was beautifully organised in Evernote for easy reference whenever I needed it.

So in conclusion, yes, you can do everything on the iPad Pro that you can on your laptop – or at least everything I needed to do on a trip.

However I would say that even this beast of an iPad is still much better as an output device than it is an input device (pencil and notes aside).

If I know I’ve got back-to-back presentations and little heavy lifting on the input side I’d probably go iPad Pro on its own.

In general, though, I’ve just added a load of extra weight to my trips. At least I won’t need to take iPad user manuals though…

The Apple iPad Pro

  • The 9.7-inch device comes in silver, space grey, gold and a new rose gold metallic finish
  • It features advanced display technologies, including a True Tone display, which uses new four-channel sensors to adjust the white balance of the display to match the light around the user
  • Prices start at £499 (inc VAT) for the 32GB with Wi-Fi model and £599 (inc VAT) for the 32GB Wi-Fi + Cellular model
  • It is 6.1mm thick and weighs just under 1lb
  • John Lasseter, chief creative officer at Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios: “iPad Pro and Apple Pencil are the closest we’ve ever been able to get in the digital world to actually drawing on paper.”

Gavin Wheeldon is CEO of Purple