My First Week With iPad Pro 11 as “Main” Computer
I previously was using a Dell Inspiron 5379 laptop with Fedora KDE as my main computer and had been for a couple years. It was great except the batter lost most of its capacity in the first year. I replaced it with an OEM battery which has lasted about 4 months.
I also had an iPad 9.7″ 6th gen. Used it daily, but it was really a coffee table device. Great for doing stuff from the couch, not even a consideration for things like documents or coding. I also have a Windows 10 gaming desktop PC that I only game from.
So, instead of buying a new $80 battery every 4 months or spending over $1k on a new laptop I decided to trade in the 9.7″ iPad, sell my laptop and get the IPP 11″ 256GB Wifi model with the Apple Smart keyboard.
Overall, I am very happy so far. Its not perfect, but far closer to it then a laptop at or even slightly above the same price would be.
* Battery Life – I am seeing ~ 10 hours for my mixed usage. Gaming, browsing, media consumption, writing, etc.
* Smooth – While the 9.7″ iPad was impressive for the price, there were times it would have small hiccups. The IPP has been butter smooth no matter what I throw at it.
* USB C – having this connection type has opened so many options. I got a nice USB C hub with ethernet, HDMI, Power Delivery, SD card reader and some other ports. Have tested out external drives, headphones (wired), etc.
* Workflow – Its really smooth using the IPP vs a traditional computer for many common things. From getting “logged in” (via Face ID) to doing a specific thing (like Netflix, Prime Video, Unifi Controller, etc.) its much faster than logging in to a traditional PC and navigating to those things.
* Smart keyboard is not wireless. This is a good thing to me. I don’t trust bluetooth to carry sensitive info (like passwords I enter) wirelessly and securely. Typing is surprisingly good on it (at least to me).
* Individual Specs not as impressive as I thought – Things like the screen and speakers didn’t really blow me away compared to the 6th gen iPad. They are marginally better, but the 4 speakers may as well be 2 (one on each end vs 2 on each end) and the screen doesn’t do much to distinguish itself from my perspective not on paper, but in person.
* Smart Keyboard – For what it is, way over priced. My biggest issue with it…no back light. Typing on it is good enough, but there are other issues that are not obvious until you use it. Just like similar keyboards, the edges are this “sharp” termination of the top and bottom material coming to an end. When holding it like a tablet with the keyboard inactive and laying flat against the back, this edge can dig into the palms and fingers as you hold it. The case also does not protect the corners of the IPP. 8.5/10 for typing, 5/10 for design and all other aspects.
* With the keyboard attached, its a bit heavy…not to mention uncomfortable as per the above. I prefer to take the Smart keyboard off entirely when using it like a tablet which kind of defeats its purpose as a protective cover.
Don’t get me wrong, none of the bad is deal breaking. The hardware is great, I just dont see the screen/speakers to be as big an upgrade in person as they may seem on paper.
**How is it as a Computer Replacement?**
I would say 90-95% there. The funny part is, the stuff I thought would be a problem is not…its the little things that you don’t consider until your trying to use them that are problematic.
For example I run a Proxmox server at home. You can view VMs/CTs via an HTML5 console…well at least you can on desktop OS’s. Safari will simply not run/open a tab for this. Similar for the IPMI HTML5 console for my motherboard, just wont load (opens and fails to connect).
I have seen a few websites that load elements funny but has come a long way from even a year ago.
iPadOS is the real hero here though. The changes it brought really make this viable. Being able to use external drives, use Safari as a desktop class browser, multitask better, etc. are essential. I am in the process of setting up a VM as a file server using SMB/NFS and having the ability to use the native Files app for SMB will be huge.
In some ways it exceeds what is possible from a traditional computer. Battery life is far better, portability is increased too.
Overall, I am glad I did this. I am eager to explore and see what else I can do with the IPP.