back to article Six things I learned from using the iPad Pro for Real Work™

Last year Apple transformed the fortunes of its iPad. In the spring the iconic fondleslab looked so neglected, it was declared "done". Sales were half of what they had been at the iPad's peak. Then in June, the biggest software update in years, iOS 11, transformed the iPad from a glorified picture frame into something …

  1. Baldrickk

    blast away

    more than sufficient to blast away a desktop chip in benchmarks.


    Reading the linked page, the processor "comes close" to matching the entry level macbook's processor on the benchmarks.

    While this may be great for a tablet and totally sufficient for the work you are doing, it's hardly blowing away desktop chips, is it?

    1) You're comparing it to a processor in a laptop, with tighter power requirements than a desktop chip

    2) It is still slower than said chip

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Shh, don't rock the boat

      They're so desperate to try and make those slablets important, don't ruin their illusions.

      Those things have their uses, but when surfing, email and chat are in the top 5 apps to use, you take the rear of the line when actual work is concerned.

    2. Baldrickk

      Re: blast away

      Too late to edit to update my original post, but here are the numbers:

      the A10X achieves:

      a single-core score of 3929 and a multi-core score of 9372.

      the entry-level 15-inch MacBook Pro achieves:

      a single-core score of 4255 and a multi-core score of 13,727

      1. SuccessCase

        Re: blast away

        But the entry level you have chosen isn't the entry level. The entry level is the MacBook Air or the new MacBook. MacBook Pros are much faster. Granted, the linked example doesn't quite match the words, but the words do at least match the reality of the real-world line-up.

        1. d3vy

          Re: blast away


          I disagree, I think he's got the comparison right. Comparing the iPad PRO to the MacBook PRO.

          If we bring macbook air into the equation then you should really be comparing to the entry level iPad not the PRO version.

          1. Lotaresco

            Re: blast away

            "I disagree, I think he's got the comparison right. Comparing the iPad PRO to the MacBook PRO."

            Not really. A maxed out 10.5in iPad Pro with keyboard and pencil is going to cost you the same as the cheapest MacBook. That's the comparison point.

        2. Naselus

          Re: blast away

          "But the entry level you have chosen isn't the entry level. The entry level is the MacBook Air or the new MacBook."

          He's literally using the processor named in the linked article. The one that actually says the exact opposite of what Orlowski says it does.

          1. Baldrickk

            Re: blast away

            He's literally using the processor named in the linked article. The one that actually says the exact opposite of what Orlowski says it does.


            I didn't go searching for a comparison, I was pointing out a factual error in the article.<br>The article states that the iPad chip outperformed the listed Macbook's processor. This is not only false, it isn't representative of the source (if the source had claimed that the iPad outperformed the Macbook, then this would be more understandable)

            Personally, I would have looked for a benchmark vs the latest Surface and maybe a Macbook Air, as competitors in the same market.

    3. Ian Michael Gumby

      @Baldrick Re: blast away

      Its a bit unfair to assume the comparison against a desktop where you have the ability to handle the TDP by tossing a honking radiator on top of it with a large fan to push air to cool it. So no duh! He's comparing the iPad to a laptop.

      Even here... iPad lacks fan so its still not a fair comparison.

      One app / feature that the author missed... Duet.

      I can use my iPad Pro 12.9" as a second monitor for my MacBook Pro while traveling.

      In terms of work... I tend to use the iPad as my library with over 50 work related texts, or for downloading and watching movies while on a flight and I don't want to do any reading. Or emails when I can't take the laptop out. Also as a second terminal if I need to do a remote login. (Need to have the case with the keyboard for that to work. )

      I do agree that the gestures and multi tasking is a bit bizarre. They changed it from a simple swipe then scrolling to find the second App, to something that doesn't seem to want to work. Lets hope they get it right. (Hint: add an on/off switch in the System Preferences for the app to select it to be in the list for second pane and got back to the original way )

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Real work my arse, try being a fisherman in the North Atlantic or a carer in a geriatric ward.

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Do they use iPads too?

      1. The_H

        Dunno about iPads, but fishermen definitely use the net.

        1. Korev Silver badge

          And an Apple Mackerel

          1. Naselus

            Nonetheless, there's actually relatively few jobs that an iPad Pro would be useful for.

            It's essentially limited to more or less (MS, Libre or Google) Office-centric workloads. Anyone needing custom-built software (say, a fat-client CRM system)? No. Anyone needing CAD (Architects, most engineering roles?) No. IT? Not much use for anyone until the File Manager is better.

            Ultimately, Andrew saying that he was able to do a full days work on an iPad Pro and not be overly inconvenienced means that Andrew's relatively lightweight software requirements (basically just email and a word processor) are still not as useful on the iPad as they are on MacOS or Windows.

            And the real problem is, most of those tasks can already be performed to an equally inferior standard on the normal iPad, at half the price.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              You cannot buy many (any ?) existing custom software that will run on an ipad Pro, but getting an app developed to run on one would be surprisingly easy. It is possible that some serious apps that can usefully be used in a mobile & remote mode will indeed develop iPad clients. CRM is certainly one that comes to mind.

              I do know of a number of tracking and delivery apps specifically ported to run on an iPad - typically a cheap one not the Pro, but it's "proof of concept" rather than a specific example.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Occupational hazard for journalists and tech reviewers

              Mistaking 'blogging', emailing and web surfing, for work.

              While the number pushing ability, and even graphical resolution of this device may surpass a graphics workstation from 20 years ago, it would require an idiot of millennial stature to try and use one for CAD or similar work

            3. Ilsa Loving

              Actually, it's usable for IT work. There are decent clients available for managing AWS, SSH some with, some without X support), and passable remote desktop tools. Oh, and there are VPN clients galore.

              It's not great, mind you, however now and then I'm in a position where I need to do some urgent work and the only thing I've had on me is my iPad, and it's worked surprisingly well.

              It cannot compete against a desktop or a laptop if the work requires special locally-running apps, but as a remote access device, I consider it an almost-as-good alternative to lugging around a laptop.

              1. JustJasonThings

                By that logic mobile phones are a good alternative to lugging around a laptop.

                There are interfaces for AWS and Azure, SSH Apps and VPN Apps.

                I think the important thing to take away from this is that whilst the iPad Pro CAN perform basic tasks, roles that require any kind of real software to perform shouldn't rely on an iPad in the place of an actual computer.

    2. SuccessCase

      Slight context change there, since this is a tech website and neither of those are technology jobs, though of course it does illustrate that office work is pretty physically undemanding. I would submit however, that if a carer in a geriatric ward is going to be using computing technology, in the future it will be increasingly likely to look more like an iPad than a desktop or laptop computer.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >I would submit however, that if a carer in a geriatric ward is going to be using computing technology

        Good luck wiping shitty Alzheimer's patients bottoms using a box pc or a non stick ipad screen.

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Real work my arse, try being a fisherman in the North Atlantic or a carer in a geriatric ward.

      I design water systems to avoid contamination of drinking water. A job that could easily be done on a tablet, while sitting on a sofa, sipping an iced latte. Is that not real work?

      The only exercise afforded by that is a bit of muscle-toning when picking up huge folders full of regulations and datasheets - and arm strengthening by hurling disgusting iced lattes as far away as possible...

      As stated above, people who work on geriatric wards also spend quite a lot of time sitting on their arses filling out forms. In my experience of those wards, a good deal too much time on their arses, and not enough time dealing with the actual patients...

    4. d3vy

      "Real work my arse, try being a fisherman in the North Atlantic or a carer in a geriatric ward."

      Having spent my teenage years living on North Uist and having summer jobs working on fishing boats in the (admittedly close to the coast) Atlantic and now working as a Software Developer I may be uniquely placed to answer this one!

      I can categorically say that while at sea we had no call for (or time to make use of) an iPad, your comment makes no sense and you have completely failed at your trolling attempt. Get back under your bridge.

    5. Muscleguy

      Is being a Biological Scientist work? See when I have to go into the Maus Haus (phonetically works in both languages) with restrictions on what can be brought in for infection control reasons and taking the animal management database (FileMaker) in as printouts is clumsy and so last century (did plenty of that) but put it and FM on a slab and take that in and sync with the desktop db when you get back?

      Sure a stylus helps for when one is wearing nitrile gloves, but they can be taken off (note to safety Johnnies: I have a biology PhD and am perfectly capable of assessing when it is safe to take my fecking gloves off).

      The work is physical and frequently dirty (they launder lab coats/scrubs for one) and my family can tell when I've done a session by the smell on my cuffs despite the above.

      I once spent most of two week in there taking out mouse intestines, from duodenum to anus, slitting them lengthways, cleaning them out, cutting into length sections and pinning flat in dishes (Sylgard on the bottom) under fixative. I did most of it under saline and breathed through my mouth and mouse intestinal contents are very fibrous and look a bit like sawdust for most of the time but the smell is the smell. Does that count as 'real work'?

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Stylus instead of mouse.

        I know what you mean! Is the iPadPro immersion proof? A dip in Cidex opens up whole worlds of possibilities for theatres of use.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "real work" but inside the RDF

      Please do not compare those apples to these oranges.

      Remember, these are products that are entry paraphernalia into the <i>Reality DIstortion Field.</i> He won't really be handling nitroglycerine or powerful explosives, talking about Real Work

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Office just isn't good enough"

    Indeed. Can it run LaTeX? :-)

    1. MiaAK

      Re: "Office just isn't good enough"

      Yes, you can use, for example, TexPad.

      1. BebopWeBop

        Re: "Office just isn't good enough"

        With a network connection (and just a text editor to do things offline) you can also run Mathematica and Mathcad (my current bread and butter)

        1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

          Re: "Office just isn't good enough"

          However, network access is often not available, whereas some form of power usually is. The irony is, I've seen people using andriod phones with a local link to a honking desktop to drive audio/video systems. So if it's just simple control, you don't need the expensive iPad, but if it's real work you can't use it.


          Horses for courses

          1. BebopWeBop

            Re: "Office just isn't good enough"

            Quite true. But power consumption is frequently an issue when I am travelling but even in the benighted UK a 3G mobile connection almost always is. I also use (not professional!) a rather nifty photo editing application (on desktop as well as tablet) call Affinity that does most of what I need to do.

            So real work (Ok many people have different needs) is very possible and I have largely abandoned carrying my very capable but rather heavier MacBook Pro when travelling.

  4. Lee D Silver badge

    "Overall, despite much carping over details here, I found the iPad surprisingly usable and likeable."

    Details like... you can't drag-drop nicely, manage files, save a JPEG... god.

    "After almost a decade, it's still early days."

    And there's the problem. Give it another decade it might be usable.

    Hell, they ONLY JUST figured out multitasking and can't even get the gestures right for that.

    Something tells me that The Reg is still trying to find a way back into Apple's good books (though I can't imagine why they'd want to for a second).

    I can't imagine anything worse than using ANY kind of iPad for serious work.

    Pretty much the only contender in that kind of arena isn't even a tablet - it'll be one of those convertible laptops that has a "proper" copy of Windows.

    We have iPads and Windows Surface in work... the iPads are just toys and the Surface has LITERALLY done the rounds of all the senior staff and nobody can find a use for it despite everyone clamouring to have it. It's been sitting on a shelf for I-don't-know-how-long now. People literally choose NOT to use it and ask for anything else rather than struggle with it.

    I imagine the iPad Pro is the same. And, though not necessarily solely the iPad's fault, non-compatible Office is game over before you start. I mean... really.. there's no excuse there.

    If you want to do "proper" work, you need Windows (I hate to say it), proper Windows, not half-baked Metro-eqsue Windows CE equivalents, in at least a VM (so has to be fully virtualisible if not actually a Windows machine as sold), with a decent keyboard (things that are attached but flimsy will break the first time you grab it quickly and they swing into the edge of the table, if they don't flex out of shape/break before then (Though I don't use Apple products where possible, I'd much prefer them to be slightly thicker if it means they could be even a BIT more sturdy), and something which doesn't rely at all on gestures (cute for killing apps, useless for just about everything else).

    Gimme one of those Yoga things, made properly, with Windows and VMWare. I'll make it out-do anything that any tablet, Pro or not, can do. Even MacOS (inside a VM).

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      Worse than that - flat keyboard and non-adjustable screen angle, No thanks.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Other keyboards are available

        I've seen a good number of people(at Starbuck's where else...) using the Logitech case/kb that uses the smart connector.

        It is even available at the Apple Store.

        still, it is nice to see an article about Apple with no mention of the 'Cupertino tat seller' that has been popular in the past.

        1. Afflicted.John

          Re: Other keyboards are available

          Totally concur. I went into the Apple store for the very first time to test the official keyboard after I had reservations with it. I will wholeheatedly disagree with Andrew there: the official keyboard is a spunky mess and overpriced tat. Why people like it is because it is a very good design adding little bulk to the device.

          Funny thing is that I need a keyboard TO FUCKING TYPE ON. The Logitech is such a keyboard with great action and just enough key travel. The downside? It doubles the thickness of the iPad Pro but when I’m using the 13” version it is already stupidly sized and doesn’t matter. Plus, Logi kit is usually available much cheaper that the Apple official stuff. Angle adjustment it there but the hinge does not know how to fully handle the larger Pro and so does need some wedging on some angles to avoid collapsing. I’d recommend it regardless - it’s fantastic.

          Interesting that I was pushed into the Apple keyboard by the PFY on the Geniu$ bar and I had to plainly tell him that the official iPad Pro keyboard was not up to scratch. He wasn’t sure how to “handle” that information...

    2. Baldrickk

      If you want to do "proper" work, you need Windows (I hate to say it), proper Windows, not half-baked Metro-eqsue Windows CE equivalents

      Well I'd say you need a proper desktop OS, be it your choice of Windows, *nix or MacOS in whatever is your preferred flavour.

      On the rest we agree.

      A good few years ago now, my father was looking at getting a tablet for when he was away from home. I pointed him at the Asus Transformer line, with the Atom processors, so they could run full x86 Windows. It's been working great for him.

      1. Neil Lewis

        Mostly agree (especially the bit about Windows being far from the only 'proper' OS, having been 100% Linux for many years for my work in professional photography and event production) except that, for the real work of controlling a professional stage lighting rig, a decent Android tablet running QLC+ works very well indeed.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "things that are attached but flimsy will break the first time you grab it"

      I've been using a Surface for over 4 years, and the keyboard is thin but quite sturdy - and not bad to type upon even for a long time. No issue to use a mouse when you need it.

      Many users don't need virtual machines on their systems - that's mostly a thing for IT people.

    4. anothercynic Silver badge

      Funny that...

      ... Here multiple executives are very good at using the Surface Pro. I have yet to see someone here using an iPad Pro...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Funny that...

        About three years ago around here, there was a mini rush on people buying Surface Pro's for use. Funnily enough, none of the people I know who rushed out to get one then are still using it in a serious way - all discarded. YMMV.

    5. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      What is all this crap about "proper work". We've got the reverse-snobbishness above, who says it ain't workin' if you're not a'fishin' the salty seas for cod! Aaaarrrrrhhhh! Then we've got people here saying it's not working if you're not furiously typing and tabbing between windows.

      Surely it's horses for courses.

      Some of our road warriors get vast amounts of work done on a phone, sitting on a train. If you've read Orlowski's reviews before (particularly his almost obsessive love for the old Blackberry), you'll know that he has to go through vast numbers of emails - and most of what he's doing is ignoring/sorting/filing/planning. Many emails only require a short reply, which can be pecked out on a horrible onscreen keyboard - leaving long composition for a time in the day when you've got access to something better.

      In fact I'm office-based, and it's rare I'll send an email longer than a couple of paragraphs. Mostly if it's complex, I'll phone someone up - something else you can do well on the move. In fact it's essential - any long email will require information I can only get talking to someone - and asking them the questions they didn't know they needed the answers to, before I can then sit down for a couple of hours to do calcs and compose an email with the answers.

      Copy and Paste is often a vital feature though, and the original iPad is still shit at that. I get the impression the Pro isn't much of an improvement, except in a few cases. Apple also seem to have lost total discipline with their UI, by just allowing loads of new gestures, seemingly with not that much logic to it. Now you need a long tutorial video to work it all out, whereas you used to be able to pick an iPad up and work it out with no help whatsoever.

      And the pencil is tragic. To add it with almost no handwriting support is pathetic. You still can't do hand-writing recognition in Apple's own email app, but have to copy and paste (still shit) from a dedicated hand-writing app. My £550, HP 2005 Vista convertible tablet/laptop thingy could do that!

      1. Loud Speaker

        Surely it's horses for courses.

        I can say with complete confidence that horses are not much use in the North Sea.

        I am somewhat less confident that Windows is suitable for "real work". Fake work, maybe.

    6. John Robson Silver badge

      "If you want to do "proper" work, you need Windows (I hate to say it), proper Windows"

      Funny - that's one thing I avoid whenever I need to do actual work. Some people might want it, but I suggest that's familiarity rather than need.

      Unix works just fine... At the moment I'm sat with a BSD derived box at my fingertips. Makes a rather good tool, and is my 'work' machine.

      I also have some experience of using the iPad as a productivity tool - for a while we went 'computerless' at home, and my wife wrote a book on her iPad2, with an apple bluetooth keyboard. The iPad has now basically stopped being useful (used occasionally for things), but I still use that keyboard when I work whilst travelling, since a keyboard and iPad mini actually make a great little work device - fits far better on a train/plane table than a laptop ever does.

      One of very few things I struggle to do on the iPad is to remotely control a PC UI... And frankly I'm not surprised... I do wish they'd allow a pointing device (heck even if it's an app on a companion iDevice).

      (Amusingly computerless is autoscrewuped to computerises)

      1. Wensleydale Cheese

        "I do wish they'd allow a pointing device "

        Hear. Hear.

        When away from home recently I tried my best to use an iPad as my sole computing device. I managed well with both writing and a bit of Python programming, but what really got me was the awful copy and paste mechanism.

        My hands are simply too large to get text selection right at the first attempt.

        I have a Logitech Type Plus keyboard which is not only comfortable to type with, but it has proper Control, Option and Command keys too. Once I have the cursor positioned in the right place I can use shift plus cursor movement keys just as I can on a Mac.

        Gimme an attachable mouse, and I really could be productive on the thing.

    7. Lotaresco

      "Details like... you can't drag-drop nicely, manage files, save a JPEG... god."

      Details that don't exist you mean?

      I can manage files just fine on an iPad/iPhone using FileExplorer. It's easy to keep them appropriately filed and tidy on my NAS, DropBox, GoogleDrive, OneDrive, WebDAV, Box, etc.

      As to JPEG, I can export as JPEG, PNG or whatever the heck I like, depending on the App.

      Here, for example, is the list of import/export formats supported by ArtStudio.

      Import: Images - PNG, JPEG, PSD, HEIC, TIFF, Brushes - ABR, TPL, Color swatches - ASE, ACO, Patterns - PAT, Gradients - GRD, Fonts - TTF, OTF

      Export: Images - PNG, JPEG, PSD, TIFF

      Knocking Apple/iOS is fine by me, but try to do it from a basis of knowledge rather than ignorance.

  5. Alan Sharkey

    It isn't there

    I have an iPad Pro and a Windows PC.

    On my PC, I normally have more than 2 windows open at once. I can share data between apps. I can EASILY flip between windows or add a new one. I can see what I've got open at a glance. File Manager is more than a joke.

    Sorry, but IOS is NOT a replacement for a proper working environment. I did try to do it, but failed very quickly.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It isn't there

      Sorry, but IOS is NOT a replacement for a proper working environment. I did try to do it, but failed very quickly.

      I'm confident it was never intended to do real "productivity" working with multiple applications and multiple windows open concurrently. What this should do is run a task specific function for non-power users, but still be able to do a fair bit more than a basic tablet, thus avoiding the need for a full fat PC, or run more complicated stuff but in "consumption" rather than "creation and input" mode.

      Think how senior managers are usually clueless around a PC. This gives them the pricey comfort blanket (and office prestige) of Apple, the ability to open the exec briefing papers, the finance spreadsheets, dabble a little bit, and that's all that is required. They won't even have it iin use for a full day, so the battery life is no problem. Apple don't want to be fighting in the cost conscious IT-for-the-hoi-polloi market, so wider limitations compared to commodity PCs don't matter, and real power users are the tiniest of tiny minorities - Apple can't compete there simply because of the processor grunt and OS limitations across their range.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: It isn't there

        Also, there's got to be a limit to how many windows you can have open on any screen that you can practically hold in one hand. Whereas a 30" PC monitor with loads of room is no problem.

        I could do 90% of my current job on an iPad - though because I use mutliple different bits of software at once, most of that would be slower and more awkward than doing it on a PC. And there's some things that would just be impossible. But quite a lot of people just use email, a word processor the odd spreadsheet and the internet.

        And lots of programs use browsers as an interface now, like our CRM and accounts package. So even a lot of that is possible with tablets.

        As I can touch type, I find any other text entry system than a proper full-size keyboard massively frustrating, and slow. I don't know how true that is for the keyboard peckers amongst us though.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: It isn't there

        I'm confident it was never intended to do real "productivity" working with multiple applications and multiple windows open concurrently.

        Agreed: Apple doesn't want to kill off its own notebooks, yet.

        It's a good review and I can see the device working for quite a few people. My brother uses one at home for nearly all the things he used to use a PC for. The IOS restrictions can be really annoying if you run into them but some people never do.

        Be interesting to see what Apple does with this and whether they see any serious competition.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A mobile OS will need, eventually, to become a desktop OS for real work...

    Any attempt to turn iOS or Android into systems for real, complex work will require them to match desktop OS features - and that will require a lot of redesign of both the OS and applications. So why not just use a desktop OS and its superior applications?

    I'm just displeased Microsoft no longer makes a 10.5"-11" Surface, it's a comfortable size when it's not your primary device but you need something small yet powerful to carry around.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: A mobile OS will need, eventually, to become a desktop OS for real work...

      and that will require a lot of redesign of both the OS and applications.

      It's mainly the UI that needs work and both Android and IOS have been making strides in that direction for years. Some apps will just look stupid without any changes but they can be configured to run in phone size windows.

      Both OSes already provide most of the service for pre-emptive multitasking, printing, etc. Not sure what's really missing.

      Apple's numbers for sales of the I-Pad Pro show that there is a market for this and developers that focus on it could do well.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A mobile OS will need, eventually, to become a desktop OS for real work...

      Why? Is there some reason that laptops and desktops need to be replaced by smartphones and tablets?

      Next time you visit a cubical farm in a non-techie company (i.e. not software development, engineering, etc.) look at how many people are using applications taking up the whole screen. They might switch from their browser to their email and then to their spreadsheet, but each is maximized. The number of people who have multiple smaller windows overlapping is much less - and generally they are the ones with jumbo monitors on a desktop or mobile docking station.

      Rather than try to add all the abilities of a desktop OS into a tablet's OS, why not let it excel at what it is good at, add incremental capabilities here and there (like a couple windows alongside each other, but not unlimited windows placed anywhere) and accept there will still be a role for laptops and desktops that tablets will never reach. Apple isn't trying to say the iPad Pro completely replaces the Macbook Pro - if they ever did say that knowing Apple they'd announce the end of the Macbook line when they said it!

    3. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: A mobile OS will need, eventually, to become a desktop OS for real work...

      >I'm just displeased Microsoft no longer makes a 10.5"-11" Surface, it's a comfortable size when it's not your primary device but you need something small yet powerful to carry around.

      Whilst I agree about the form factor, trying to use Windows 10 on a physically small screen for real work (ie. where you need to use the desktop) is just an exercise in pain, whereas whilst the iPad has its limitations, you aren't constantly reminded of them at every interaction.

  7. wolfetone Silver badge

    I have to agree with the assertion that the iOS 11 update transformed the iPad. I've used my iPad Air 2 (or whatever it's called, I didn't buy it) for more research work than I would've done thanks to the split screening. However, I've found it convoluted and a bit buggy really to work properly.

    But still, any port in a storm if you're desperate for on the road working.

  8. fnusnu

    Office it is

    "For two decades Office has been the litmus test of whether a machine can cut it. "

    I got downvoted into oblivion for pointing this out in the recent WINE thread...

    1. Teiwaz

      Re: Office it is

      "For two decades Office has been the litmus test of whether a machine can cut it. "

      I got downvoted into oblivion for pointing this out in the recent WINE thread...

      Ah yes, you would also attempt to perform a jewish service at a mosque in a contended area?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Ah yes, you would also attempt to perform"

        If you don't use WINE to run main Windows applications, what is it useful for? For simple applications probably you can find a Linux counterpart - it's the complex one you need to run.

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Office it is

      >I got downvoted into oblivion for pointing this out in the recent WINE thread...

      I think you got down-voted for explicitly referencing Office 2016, many people wanting to use Wine want to use previous versions that MS are trying hard to make newer versions of Windows incompatible with...

      Also for myself, the ability to run 'Office' ie. Word/Excel/Powerpoint is just the starting point, I want to be able to run the full set of Office applications including Outlook, Visio and Project from various versions of Office (eg. 2003/2007) without loss of key functionality...

      Hence why I'm looking for full function Linux native replacements.

  9. letzdanse

    My two cents - Project management/UX job

    You get an iPad for being alway-on, super lightweight and an OS that (mostly) won't flake out on you.

    It's a support device, something you sling in a bag for a long weekend, hold meetings with, and can pass around a table like it's paper rather than a computer.

    Whether you can depend on it as your sole machine depends on the nature of your job - I split my time between a desktop and iPad because I need to move around the office a lot.

    I found Logitech's Slim Combo to be the best iPad keyboard/case I've tried. Backlit too!

  10. RyokuMas

    Sod office, try Unity

    Until something has the chops to run game dev tools, it's no substitute for a workhorse PC or laptop

  11. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "To be honest, 1024 x 768 – the iPad's original resolution at launch – would have sufficed for browsing, email, writing, and IM. "

    A frequent complaint of commentards is that wide-screen laptops don't cut it. When you actually pin down the cause of the complaint it's nothing to do with the aspect ratio; it's that they're only 1080 vertical resolution. For actual work - and by that I think they mean writing as many other tasks and applications benefit from a wide screen - they want 1600 minimum. So I don't think your contention that 1024 x 768 would find much favour there.

    1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

      No, it really is the aspect ratio of the screen that's the problem with 16:9, not the number of pixels. 16:9 does not have enough height available for any given width. So, yes, it's "only 1080 vertical resolution", but that complaint is in relation to it being "1960 horizontal resolution" too. 1080 vertical would be fine if the horizontal was 1440.

      Think of how every windowed UI is laid out. A horizontal strip takes space at the top or bottom of the screen for always-present functions (Menubar/Taskbar). Each window then has a horizontal strip at the top, and possibly the bottom too. All those horizontal strips steal height, but on a 16:9 display - of any resolution- display height is the commodity that is in shortest supply. So, unless you're able to redesign every application's user interface to move the "controls" entirely to one side of the content rather than above or below, wide screen ratios are at a disadvantage.

      Upping the resolution of the panel to "fix" the problem makes everything smaller and harder to read (or the OS just increases the size of the UI elements and text to cancel out the resolution increase).

      The iPad display uses the "classic" 4:3 ratio (or 16:12 if normalised to the width of a 16:9 panel) - the same as old PC monitors. Look at the more expensive laptops: Apple uses 16:10, and Microsoft's Surface uses a 3:2 ratio (or 16:10.6 ). These taller displays offer significantly more vertical space than 16:9 when used in the normal landscape orientation, and that's a feature people will pay for.

      16:9 displays are used only because they're cheaper, and they're cheaper because those panels can also be used as television displays.

  12. Unicornpiss

    If you must have a tablet..

    ..Then why not check out one of the better offerings from Dell, Asus and the like? Or if you hate Windows and you're not that into Apple, one of the Android offerings? Either of these will give you a ton of functionality, actual access to the file system, and either a better version of Office or good freeware alternatives. And you can pocket the difference in cash and use it to buy whatever keyboard you want. You also will have USB ports. (well, at least one anyway)

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: If you must have a tablet..

      The good Android tablets, with decent resolution screens and sufficient RAM and processor for still being useful in 2 years, are all north of £400. And even most of those are being sold 1 or 2 versions of Android out of date - even after the latest version is 6 months old. So you're paying iPad money for a tablet that's getting no proper support.

      Also, and I'm happy to be told I'm wrong here, but I've read that there aren't many tablet specific apps in the Google Play store. So you're basically using scaled-up phone apps. That's not a problem in itself, but a lot of iPad apps benefit from being able to turn the thing on its side, and get more horizontal space for extra software features. As I said, I've not used an Android tablet in a long while, so I could be out-of-date on this.

      So if I want a cheap tablet for a bit of light surfing/email, then I'm happy to chuck £150 on a Droid tablet that I know won't get supported and will probably struggle with apps in a year or two. I fancy the Lenovo Yoga. But the £400-£600 ones don't seem to be all that much better in terms of support, and I expect those to last me 41/2 years like my iPad 3 has. I just don't believe they will. Hence the tablet I'm planning to buy this month with be an iPad Air or an iPad Pro.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I remember some senior exec tool tying up masses of resources to get their ipad on an internal banking system.

    Trouble is all the imported minions are too fearful to tell them to get lost so the whole show drags on

    all day till someone with balls tells them to get lost.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: tangent

      Surely the advantage of a nice, well-built, metal tablet is that you can hit the buggers over the head with it. You could call it user-instruction mode.

    2. Korev Silver badge

      Re: tangent

      Can you just pop the Citrix or RDP client on their iPad and let them access it that way?

      1. Unicornpiss

        Re: tangent

        "Can you just pop the Citrix or RDP client on their iPad and let them access it that way?"

        Yeah, after you port all the myriad apps they will claim to need to a VM or publish them in Citrix. Seems like a lot of work to accommodate a small minority.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pixel C

    I did the same in a Pixrel C and found it a superb all day at work device. Word, Excel, Powerpoint all worked fine, and Google's apps even better. The keyboard was good, and the battery lasted all day.

    Android has come on leaps and bounds, I really liked the task switcher they added in Oreo and split screen works really well (especially on the Pixel C, where landscape can hold 2x portrait apps nicely). Android app layout flexibility also works FAR better than anything Apple has (which still stuck in the fixed set of aspect ratios).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pixel C

      For fucks sake stop posting ads for fucking Google products. So, so tiresome...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Android has come on leaps and bounds,

      No, it hasn't. It's a noddy phone os that slurps more than Windows and, unless you pay the Google tax, seldom gets security updates. It degrades with use even when you don't install new apps, six months and my new phone has started glitching bluetooth audio just like the old one.

      An os that works for six months is pants.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Android has come on leaps and bounds,

        An os that works for six months is pants.

        I have also noticed this shitness, and it is just this shitness that causes me to use Apple even though I don't like Apple.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Android has come on leaps and bounds,

          "it is just this shitness that causes me to use Apple even though I don't like Apple"

          Exactly that. Across 4 lots of shitiness (Google, Apple, Linux, MS), Apple are generally less shitty than the rest, more or less.

          1. Unicornpiss

            Re: Android has come on leaps and bounds,

            "Apple are generally less shitty than the rest, more or less.

            Why didn't you use the joke icon for your post?

  15. teknopaul


    Real work for me requires a 105 key cherry keyboard head height monitor, 46" wide, straight backed chair, a gigabit network, and the ability to install the software I choose (and the software I write).

  16. wjake

    Seriously, nobody caught this?

    "If there's one disappointment, it's that the hardware sucks surprisingly more than I expected. "

    Especially the "editor"?

    Also, anything less than 1920x1080 is of little use these days and 768 screens are complete rubbish!

  17. Aebleskiver

    One angle... "You're looking at it wrong..."

    Apologies, couldn't resist!

  18. Allonymous Coward

    "This much is true of the Surface too"

    No it isn't. I'm no Microsoft apologist, and have a love/hate relationship with my work-supplied Surface Pro. But on the Surface you can in fact adjust the screen angle with the keyboard attached.

  19. Stevie


    To do *my* work on it I'll need it to stay propped up on my knees on a rocking train and not slip off to the floor or have the screen pop out of its slot and fold itself flat.

    Does it do that? Don't worry, I can see from the picture it can't. The floppy bit that provides the spacer between the edge of the screen and the prop for it can't cope with this simple requirement. I know 'cos I have a case with much the same assembly.

    I also need a keyboard that has no "apple specials" because I'll be needing it to use as a terminal on much non-apple kit and two sets of finger habits is one set too many.

    And finally, I'll need the browser to run the Java thing that provides the remote connectivity I would be using the thing for work on the move in the first place. Can it do that?

    Because if it requires me to put it on top of a laptop so I can do less than if I just used the laptop, it sadly isn't ready for my prime time nor that of my colleagues in the SA, SAN and DBA departments.

    Which is to say, people who support infrastructure rather than "creating content".

    Before anyone screams and leaps I would love to be able to use my iPad air for proper work, but it has been an uphill battle to get it ready for integrating with my lappy using Scrivener for play-work so I'm not sanguine.

    It *is* a great way to do email, Twitter etc. untill you enter soft-keyboard hell (I know what you want to do better than you do, so either erase the whole thing and try again or live with my version, mate).

  20. Lotaresco

    Not universally useful

    There are some things that a tablet can't do or where using a tablet would be overkill.

  21. Habadera

    > Being Apple, of course, there's no option to reduce the refresh rate (it's a dazzling 120hz) or lower the screen res.

    This is true, although Apple make a big deal of their ProMotion technology which apparently adaptively scales the hz rate depending on what you're using the device for.

    I bought an iPad Pro last year and it's definitely taken a chunk out of the scenarios where I would have previously used a laptop. I didn't expect it to be a full on replacement though - more a convenient tool that I can throw in my hand baggage for an overnight trip when I know I don't need power user type features.

  22. Bad Beaver

    It's sad really

    I made it through university with a Newton MP2100 as my daily driver. Those were simpler days, of course. The device had its limitations but it just worked and it worked very well. I wonder which company made it, they do not seem to be around anymore.

  23. OffBeatMammal

    I try to use my iPad as primary device when traveling to avoid needing to take a laptop as well. While, for my use case, Office is okay, and I like a lot of the new split screen and other "pro" tweaks my biggest problem with iOS is that it's still very limited more because of philosophical decisions by Apple to create a locked down eco system (eg I can't set the default mail app to Nine, or switch the web URL handler from Safari to, say, Brave). Allowing OneDrive able to integrate into Files so I don't have to bounce around between different apps/workflows would also be a huge help.

    Battery life, compared to my iPad Mini, is terrible. Using it for music as well (either Cloudbeats locally, or Spotify) while working kills it.

    Totally agree on the Pencil experience ... I'd hoped that apps like OneNote would do a really good job of being a genuine pen+notepad replacement, but so far all of the options I've tried fall short in usability or capability

    For the price tag on the iPad Pro, it's very disappointing and doesn't give it enough "bang" to be a real laptop replacement.... but if Apple could get their head out of their arse about controlling users then there is still hope ...

    1. Just Another SteveO

      ....Allowing OneDrive able to integrate into Files so I don't have to bounce around between different apps/workflows would also be a huge help.....

      I think you can do that - I have onedrive, iCloud and Dropbox set up as locations in Files but maybe I’m misunderstanding what you want to do.

  24. Vince

    I haven't read the entire comments posted thus far, but seriously, yet again your piece has obvious lack of research issues.

    Easiest example: "Being Apple, of course, there's no option to reduce the refresh rate (it's a dazzling 120hz) or lower the screen res." they don't, because it isn't always at 120Hz, it's entirely dynamic so there is no need to "manage" the refresh, because Apple does it already.

  25. Afflicted.John
    Thumb Up

    I hate Apple but the Pro is pretty neat

    I hate them. Hate. Hate. Hate. Hate them. So the opportunity to get an iPad for work came up and I said “No, get me a Surface Pro”. That’s the first snag. Surface is a Windows device and IT support would have to image and manage it. NHS you see.

    I looked at all the options and the only one that fit was the iPad. But I wanted a stylus and a big screen for wire framing/design work as well as portability so the Pro then became the only option. And what and expensive package that turned out to be. But we’ll ignore that.

    The interesting thing is that when dependant on a Microsoft stack, the iPad Pro is a very useful bit of kit. My files are on OneDrive for Buisness. My email is handles via Office 365 and I have access through Enterprise Mobility & Security. I have virtually everything I need, with good apps and none of the Mobile Iron crap. Start writing a document in Word on the train on the iPad, then seamlessly pick it up on the desktop when I hit the office. It’s there in my Word documents list, smiling at me. Sure Word is cut down a bit but even for academic types there’s a great Mendely app - no need for that linked EndNote from where I sit.

    Ironic thing? EM&S disables copy and paste between controlled and non-controlled applications. So it doesn’t matter that Apple have fudged the implementation as I cannot really use it when using a proper browser like Firefox.

    Second problem is that the wire framing / software prototyping ecosystem is very Mac orientated. Adobe XD had a lot of promise but Windows reliance in the Health sector was always going to go against me.

    Only time will tell if this is a true replacement for pen and paper for wire framing.

  26. peterm3


    I see quite a few ipads used as Point of Sale systems in small restaurants / cafes. They do the ordering and print receipts, process credit card payments. Cheaper than the Windows embedded crap I remember dealing with. Orderbird is one example

  27. Triumphantape

    So it is a Macbook with a touch screen basically....

  28. Milton

    It's not so hard

    1. If you have lite "work" and enjoy posing with your shiny look-how-much-I-paid-for-it toy, buy Apple: use an iOS tablet. Pose by the pool.

    2. If you have real work but are otherwise a bit clueless, use Windows on a proper computer.

    3. If you have real, and important work, use a Linux system set up by a beard who knows what he's doing.

    4. Questions?

  29. Snow Wombat

    Let me shorten that for you

    If you have to any actual REAL work

    1 through 6. - Don't.

  30. tanukisoba

    Affinity Photo

    You mentioned Snapseed, which is ideal for snapshots, but Affinity Photo is the one for pro photo editing. It has almost all the functionality of Photoshop. Serif also has a vector app called Designer on the way, which will have most of the functionality of Adobe Illustrator.

    As a professional illustrator, I have found the iPad Pro to be an extremely useful machine, especially for the personal artwork I do after hours.

    I do use a Windows PC as well though. As for the Mac, I no longer swallow the hype.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    iPad for real work?

    It’s been a year since this article was posted, and reviewing it now it seems that we’re much further ahead when it comes to using an iPad for business. This, of course, depends a lot on what type of work you do. Sales, business meetings, etc, versus software development and heavy document management. In the area of graphics and design, the iPad pro has come a long way - as has the Surface Studio. In fact, potentially overtaking desktop graphics use. Adobe at the last Mac World conference claimed that they will soon have the full version of Photoshop on the iPad.

    In my case, I use my iPad about 75% of the time because I’m mostly taking notes and reviewing material. The other 25% of the time when I actually have to create a presentation or do something more complex, I use my Microsoft Surface Book.

    One last comment about pens. I really enjoy using the Apple Pencil for jotting things down. I don’t care much for OCR because for the most part, these are notes for myself and I’m not sharing them with anyone. If I need to write an email, then I pull out a logitech keys-to-go, bluetooth keyboard that I have and type out a message. It’s what I used for this comment.

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