iPad Pro

Why I Chose the 12.9” iPad Pro (Again)

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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.

Split View

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.

The very bottom is my current 12.9” iPad Pro, the white sheet of paper is the stand-in for the new 12.9” form factor and on top is last year’s 10.5 iPad Pro (the same size as the new 11” iPad Pro)

The very bottom is my current 12.9” iPad Pro, the white sheet of paper is the stand-in for the new 12.9” form factor and on top is last year’s 10.5 iPad Pro (the same size as the new 11” iPad Pro)

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.

iPad Pro Smart Keyboard Connection Issues

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I’ve had an on again off again issue with my iPad Pro Smart Keyboard not wanting to stay connected. Sometimes it will just disconnect and the on-screen keyboard will pop up and then at other times I will get a pop up message saying “This accessory is not supported by this device.” At first I would only have keyboard connection problems every once in a while (maybe once a month) and then it started happening once a week and eventually multiple times a day. At first I could just disconnect the keyboard from the smart connector and re-connect it and it would solve the problem. But as the frequency of the issue increased this no longer worked. So it was time to get to the bottom of the problem.

I did a little digging and one of the most common fixes is to clean the smart connectors on both the iPad and the Smart Keyboard, but in my case that didn’t help.

Pictured above are to two places where cleaning the contacts to the keyboard can help (at least in some cases)

Pictured above are to two places where cleaning the contacts to the keyboard can help (at least in some cases)

After a little more digging I found out that Apple had issued an internal memo that acknowledged the problem and extended the warranty by 1-year. So I took a trip to the Apple Store. I explained what the issue was and the Apple Store Genius didn’t even want to see the problem in action, he just started the process of getting me a new Smart Keyboard. The hardest problem about getting the Keyboard replaced was waiting on the Genius to extract the serial number off of the keyboard. The serial number is printed on the Smart Keyboard but it is on the felt surface which makes it pretty much impossible to read. So they have to do a diagnostic on the iPad to get the diagnostics report to spit out the serial number of the attached keyboard.

Bottom line, if you are having connection issues with your iPad Pro Smart Keyboard go into an Apple Store or give Apple Support a call. It’s a known issue and you should be taken care of.

Waterfield Dash Sleeve for iPad Pro: A College Student's Review

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I use an iPad Pro in college instead of a laptop and I needed a case. My Dad recommended a Waterfield Dash Sleeve for iPad Pro. Over the past two months this case has been amazing and helpful. I keep the case in a bag, which typically also has a few notebooks. I go to college in Florida, so rain is a recurring problem and my bag isn't waterproof. Normally I would be concerned about my devices, instead all I have to do is put my phone in the zipper pocket of the case and everything is safe. The pocket on the back is very helpful for keeping all of my things together. Inside of that zippered pocket there is a dedicated pouch to slide my Apple Pencil into. In addition to the Apple Pencil I also use the zippered pocket to store my headphones and my phone. More things could fit in the zippered pocket if you need it to carry more. Also, the material is more forgiving than it looks. I was concerned that the mesh pocket would let water get through, but it doesn't. I've accidentally spilled my water on the back of the case and quickly took everything out of the pocket and it was all dry. I then proceeded to play with the water to see of it would seep through the mesh, but it didn't. This case is also shock absorbent from what I’ve seen. I’m prone to only drop it from a relatively low height (like a table, desk or night stand), but it has held up. Just from inspecting the case it definitely cradles the iPad, so it is shock resistant. I have a 10.5 inch iPad Pro with a Smart Keyboard and Waterfield has versions of the Dash Sleeve for iPad Pro available to fit iPad Pro with or without the Smart Keyboard. Be careful about the open top. As long as the iPad is all the way in the case, the edges aren't exposed to damage. It is open to get water in from the opening of the Dash Sleeve, but so far I haven't had any issues with that.

Overall, there is nothing negative to say about Dash Sleeve for iPad Pro from my experience. Being in college tends to be rough on devices. I’d recommend this case to anyone…I love it. It’s compact, protective and is easy to carry.

How To Print From iOS On College Wireless Networks

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College wireless networks provide internet to a large number of people and because of that they tend to be very much locked down. If you are off to college this semester and using an iPad you may face some of the same challenges I have faced getting my daughter setup with printing capabilities in her dorm room. My daughter opted for an iPad Pro as her college computer. It's a great choice for college, especially for her since she really likes to take hand written notes (the perfect task for the Apple Pencil). But if you want to print from an iOS device you really only have one choice...AirPrint (you can't print from an iOS device using any kind of physical cable or dongle). And therein lies the problem, the wireless sharing protocols that AirPrint uses are blocked on most large scale networks (like those on college campuses). So now what? If you are going iPad or iPad Pro only for college and you want to be able to print from an iOS device on college wireless networks how can you do it? There are a several options:

  1. My daughter's college IT department's solution for her was to use the campus printing service. This isn't as cheap or as convenient as using your own personal printer but it is an option. In my daughter's case I am having her use this as a backup in case she ever has problems printing to her personal printer or if she needs to print in color (I just got her our old black and white HP LaserJet).
  2. Wifi-Direct is an alternative to consider if you have a printer that supports it. This is a wifi peer-to-peer (P2P) protocol that essentially setups up wifi connection between your printer and your iOS device without needing a separate wifi network to do so. HP has a help page explaining how to setup Wi-Fi Direct printing on their printers but other printer manufactures support Wi-Fi direct as well. If you have or purchase a printer with Wi-Fi Direct capability this is a great alternative to AirPrint for printing from an iOS device. This option didn't work for my daughter because the printer we handed down to her was just old enough that it didn't support Wi-Fi Direct.
  3. Another option to print from iOS on college wireless networks is to use an old laptop, Mac or PC and hook-up the laptop directly to the printer. So much data is stored in the cloud anymore that you can probably just get away with making sure the computer you are physically connecting to the printer has access to all the cloud account you are using on your iOS device. Then you can simply access the documents or files you need to print from the computer that is hooked directly to your printer. Keep in mind that most likely you will be unable to AirDrop things between your iOS device and your Mac on the college wifi network because AirDrop uses similar protocols to AirPrint. So if the file you are trying to print isn't accessible from a cloud account on the computer physically connected to your printer then you will need to email that file to the computer and then print it. This option is the option I currently have configured for my daughter. I told her if she finds herself printing a lot of stuff I can go to option 4 for her.
  4. If you have an old wireless router around (or purchase an inexpensive one) then you can setup your own wireless network. It won't have any connection to the internet, but you can configure the network any way you like and allow AirPrint. So this is how this would work. Plug in and setup the router somewhere in the dorm room (if your printer has an Ethernet network capability then put it close enough to the printer so you can use an Ethernet cable to connect your printer to your router you are setting up). Once you have your own network setup make sure you connect (either physically via Ethernet cable or wirelessly) your printer to your new wireless network. Then when you want to print from your iOS device you need to go into your wireless settings on your iOS device and connect to the wireless network you just setup. Once you do that you will be able to AirPrint directly from your iOS device to your AirPrint enabled printer because you are doing this on your own personal wireless network. Now remember, because you have not hooked up your network to any outside network you don't have access to the internet. So if you need to print something from the internet you will need to print it out to a PDF document and then switch to your personal wireless network and AirPrint.

Hopefully you find this article helpful. I was really surprised when I was trying to get my daughter setup to print from iOS on college wireless networks that there weren't more articles out there on the internet that listed out all the work arounds like I have done above. I had to do a lot of digging to figure this out, so I figured I would share it with all of you. Also, I have to imagine that there are a lot of college students opting to go iPad only so this is a problem that more and more college students are going to run into to.

One more tip...if you are in the market for a good printer to use in a college dorm room I highly recommend the Brother HL-L2340D black and white LaserJet wireless printer. Brother makes some really nice printers but at an extremely affordable price. I've used Brother printers for many years and have always been happy with them. Not only does this Brother printer support AirPrint but it also support Wi-Fi Direct, Google cloud Print and Brother iPrint & Scan (but remember only Wi-Fi Direct will work as a workaround to a locked down college wifi network). Happy printing...

All of My iPad Pro Posts in One Place

My daughter creating artwork for a comic book she is writing for school

My daughter creating artwork for a comic book she is writing for school

I've written quite a bit about my iPad Pro in the year+ that I have owned on. So below is a list of all of the posts I have published about the iPad Pro...

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