tl;dr I bought a new iPad pro and share some of my working tips. Printed a stand from Thingiverse, connected a cheap bluetooth keyboard and use a matte screen protector to avoid reflections and write more natural with the Apple Pencil.
After my old 10.5″ iPad Pro decided to hit the stone patio outside last year, I was eagerly waiting for a new release. It still worked with a completely broken screen, but I was dreaming of small bevels, better camera’s and pencils… The iPad is certainly the device I use most these days. iPadOS and apps have evolved dramatically. I was even thinking it would be my ideal travel device, linked to a Raspberry pi over USB-C…. And then COVID-19 lockdown happened.
I ordered the new version immediately at “soft launch”. Of course there has been no travelling, except between the garden and the home office, but I found a few things I want to share with you.
The new Apple Pencil is incredible. attaching to the side magnetically, charging when attached, changing tools by clicking. It is now a major tool since it is “always there” (unless you forget to attach it…). Clicking the locked screen with the pencil opens a new Apple Note and you can doodle away ! so handy! But the app I have really started to use a lot is Notability by Ginger Labs. I am not going to do a full review here (maybe I need to come back to that) but the writing is very natural, you can use a zoomed window, click the pencil to switch to the eraser, add pictures or stuff from the web. I have even started adding scans of old notes. I am grabbing my iPad with Notability more and more instead of a notepad to make notes during meetings or online training…. You can even record audio or automatically recognise your notes in OCR, even in Dutch!
The fascinating thing about the new iPad Pro is that it can transform in a different tool. Instead of sketching with the pen you can now put it in some holder and connect an external keyboard! Since I think the new iPad stand from Apple is a bit on the expensive side at the moment, I looked around for any Bluetooth keyboards I still had lying around. The first one worked perfectly! I bought it a while ago for the Raspberry Pi, it says iHarbort as the manufacturer… I think it cost me around 10 euro… It connects fast when I switch it on and it has a power safe mode. The trackpad equally works well. If like me you have several language keyboards you use, you can switch with SHIFT-CTRL- SPACE. Took me a while to find that in an Apple support note. I find combining the keyboard for typing and the pen as some kind of mouse works best, I have not connected a separate mouse yet.
The support you see in the picture is a great Christmas gift from a friend and works well in living room surroundings. I was looking for something smaller and portable to take with me or use on a (dirty) kitchen table. Since I also dabble in 3D printing I found a great design on Thingiverse. The creator has several versions, of which this is the biggest. It folds and is very sturdy. Recommended! Find it here.
If there are annoyances I noticed with the IPad Pro, one is the very reflective screen and the other one is obviously the very smooth screen to write on with the pencil. It does not feel natural. Since I was also looking to protect my screen a bit (see start of this article…) I found a great screen cover that is both matte and ‘greany’ to the touch like real paper. I like it a lot and already bought a spare one. Added benefit is that it smudges less than the glass screen. Find it on Amazon.de.
I completed my kit with a very low profile case and a hard transport case for when I can hit the road again. Oh and don’t forget that you need a good power bank with USB-C to really work everywhere. I love Anker for these and their PowerCore 10000 PD Redux comes highly recommended.
The proof is in the pudding as they say, so here is my garden setup where I actually wrote the biggest part of this post! Let me know what you think of the iPad Pro, what tools and tricks you use!
Attention! This article contains Amazon associates links that in my dreams make me some money.