Its hard to believe it has been nearly 3 years since I purchased my 12.9” iPad Pro. Since that day I have used that iPad Pro as my primary computer to do all kinds of things:
- Write my master’s thesis
- Household budgeting
- Paying bills
- Write in my daily journal
- Write and publish post to this blog
- Write and publish articles at GeekDad.com
- Sheet music reader for playing piano and keyboards
- My daughter used it as her digital drawing studio until she bought her own iPad earlier this year
- Provide me entertainment while I travel (and I did a TON of travel this past year)
That last item is what actually got me thinking that maybe, just maybe I would opt for the smaller 10.5” or 11” iPad when the new iPads were announced. In fact, before I watched the event video I was fully prepared to switch to the smaller form factor. But ultimately there were 4 things that kept me with the 12.9” iPad Pro.
Because I use the iPad Pro as my main computing device, I end up doing a wide variety of tasks and many of those tasks are much easier if I have two apps open side by side in “split view” on the iPad. When you compare the diagonal dimensions of 12.9” and 11” you wouldn’t think there would be a large screen area difference, but there is. With the 12.9” iPad Pro in landscape you essentially get nearly two 9.7” iPads in portrait mode when using the split view feature. When you are doing something tedious and detailed like a budgeting worksheet that extra size makes a huge difference. This wasn’t enough of a reason for me to absolutely stick with the 12.9” form factor but it one of the factors.
The New Smaller Sizes
The new iPad Pros Apple just announced this past week came with a new smaller more compact size because they eliminated the home button and almost totally eliminated the bezels. So you still get the same 12.9” diagonal screen but in a much smaller overall package. In fact, when it came to the 10.5” iPad Apple was able to keep the same physical size of the device but increase the screen size to 11” (that is why we have a new size this year). In the case of the 12.9” iPad Apple was able to decrease the device size down to something that is just slightly smaller than a standard 8.5” x 11” piece of paper. The main reason I was pretty sure I was going to go with the smaller iPad Pro this time around was because of how much I travel for my day job. I spend a lot of time on airplanes and the original 12.9” iPad Pro was pretty unwieldy for a seat back table or your lap while squeezed into one of those tiny airplane seats. But the new smaller footprint of the 12.9” iPad is just smaller enough to make it an easier fit while using on an airplane. My daughter has last year’s 10.5” iPad Pro so I was able to do a comparison between my current 12.9” iPad Pro, her 10.5” iPad Pro (which is the same physical size as the new 11” iPad Pro) and I used an 8.5” x 11” piece of paper as a stand-in for the new 12.9” iPad. As you can see from the photo below the new 12.9” size is a nice balance between the two devices while not sacrificing anything in terms of screen size.
Stability When Typing On My Lap
One of the main ways I use my iPad Pro is while sitting in the living room and using it in my lap with the Smart Keyboard. In this “laptop” mode I rely on the extra width of the keyboard to keep it stable while typing on my lap. I tried typing with my daughter’s 10.5” iPad Pro in my lap and it does work, but you have to really pay attention and keep it centered on your lap in order to maintain stability.
Sheet Music Reader
The final nail in the coffin for going to the smaller 11” iPad Pro for me was my use of the iPad as a sheet music reader. I’ve talked about this many years ago when I wrote about switching over to using an iPad mini. These days I end up playing from full on sheet music with melody lines instead of just lead sheets and most of the time I am not on a traditional piano which means the iPad screen is farther away from my face than it would be if I were just sitting at a normal piano. Bottom line…I really need the extra screen size with my aging eyes to be able to effectively read sheet music while playing piano and keyboards. So this one use case (combined with the other 3) is really what put me over the edge to staying with the 12.9” iPad Pro.