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Stuff I Bought Week: iPad Pro and Apple Pencil

Posted on April 2nd, 2016

Dave!When Apple came out with the iPad Pro, I was intrigued. Not because we were getting a giant iPad... but because it was accompanied with "Apple Pencil," which is what Apple calls their touch stylus.

So I went to the store to give one a try and ended up taking a pass. Not because of Pencil, which was amazing (as you'll see), but because the iPad Pro was just too big. I like drawing/painting/sketching while laying on the couch watching TV, and the big iPad felt like it was more of a table-top tool.

Fast-forward to earlier this month, and Apple announced that a smaller model of the iPad Pro would be released on March 31st.

And it's glorious...

Apple iPad Pro 9.7

There are a lot of iPad reviews out there, so I'm just going to give a quick run-down on what matters to me...

  • The Apple Pencil stylus is incredible. I've used a lot of display tablets over the years, including the high-end Cintiq Wacom models, and this is the best I've ever seen.
  • Seriously. If you're an artist, go to an Apple Store and try out Pencil.
  • The glass is so thin on iPad Pro that it's more like drawing directly on the tablet instead of drawing above it. This is a huge step forward, and makes all the difference.
  • No. Lag. None. Even when rapidly scribble-shading, it keeps up.
  • The sizing is perfect for couch-drawing. I admit that there are times I'd like to have the larger drawing surface of the original iPad Pro model, but I'm ultimately happy with the smaller model.
  • iPads and iPads have genreally had shitty sound. All that changes with this model. You get four speakers to orient stereo sound in either horizontal or vertical orientations. And it's really good sound!
  • I'm not one to take photos with an iPad, but that may change. The camera on this thing is awesome. Low light performance is quite good. Not as handy as my iPhone for quick snaps... but it's nice to know I have iPad as an option if I need a shot.
  • Apple's "TrueTone" sensor evaluated room lighting and adjusts the display tint to fit in with your surroundings for a more natural visual. I didn't think much about it, but tested how it works under the Edison vintage lights in my dining room which are very warm... sure enough, it's a noticeable (and welcome!) improvement.
  • I never bought an iPad Air model, so I wasn't prepared for how thin this thing is. It's very nice, and the weight it comfortable to hang onto.
  • The multi-tasking is a nice addition, but it doesn't seem terribly practical for the 9.7" model as opposed to the larger 12" version.
  • The Apple Smart Keyboard is a better than trying to type with the on-screen keyboard... but not by a lot. The only real benefit is that you're not obscuring the screen with the keyboard. Otherwise it's just too cramped for easy typing, and almost impossible to use unless it's sitting on a sturdy flat surface.. This is where the 12" model with its full-size Smart Keyboard is a better choice if you're doing a lot of typing.
  • The Smart Keyboard does not protect the back of the iPad. You need a separate piece for that.

For the most part, I am very, very happy with the iPad Pro... and ecstatic when using it with Apple Pencil and an app like ProCreate that can take advantage of it. This is easily, hands-down, no-bullshit the best stylus tablet experience I've ever had. The fact that it's not tethered to a computer is just icing on the cake. If you're an artist who is considering going digital... or are already a digital artist looking to upgrade, stopping by an Apple Store and checking out the iPad Pro is a no-brainer.

   

Pencil

Posted on September 9th, 2015

Dave!Another September, another Apple Event.

This time there were few surprises, as Apple rumor sites have had the skinny on what's coming for months. Actually, with the exception of the Apple Pencil, I don't think there were any surprises. But we'll get to that in a bit.


Apple Watch

  • Until they make it thinner, I just don't give a crap. All the cool new features in the world don't mean a thing unless I actually want to wear it. Holy crap. You're Apple. Figure out a way of moving the battery to the strap or something.

iPhone 6S

  • I covet the new 12MP camera. That also shoots 4K video. Which is amazing (assuming you've got the memory for it).
  • DEEP. TRENCH. ISOLATION.
  • At first I thought that Live Photos was gimmicky... until I looked at the gallery. Photos that come to life like this are pretty cool. Kinda like Vines, I guess. Facebook support is great... hopefully Vine will be supported too.
  • 3D Touch (formerly Force Touch?) with Taptic Engine response and "Peek & Pop" looks wonderfully intuitive and useful. If developers start integrating it in their apps like the video showed, this alone might be worth the cost of an upgrade.
  • Faster-Better-Stronger Touch ID is a welcome upgrade.
  • The new "iPhone Upgrade Program" from Apple is interesting. A new iPhone every year so you've always got the latest. Unlocked for any carrier. AppleCare+ included. $36.58 a month for a 64GB 6S. That's $438.96 a year, which saves you around $200 from the cost of buying a new iPhone outright each year... $300 if you include a new AppleCare+ contract. Still, I don't know if this is something I'm willing to get into unless my mobile carrier will give me a discount on service since I won't be subsidizing a phone with them. I'm guessing that's not going to happen, and so... my 2-year contract with AT&T will undoubtedly be renewed. When is Apple going to create their own mobile network?
  • UPDATE: Shit. No optical image stabilization on the 6S. You still have to go with the "plus" model to get it, which sucks, because I still find the "non-plus" models to be too big.

Apple TV

  • Still no HomeKit. Holy shit is Apple fucking up on this.
  • The new model is not the breakthrough Apple seems to think it is. Others (including Google) had a lot of these new features ages ago.
  • Given how pathetic Apple's menu system is and how hard it is to do anything with the crappy Apple TV interface, slapping Siri on top of everything is appreciated... but doesn't do jack to solve the real problem.
  • The new swipe remote is great. If there is one area Apple excels, it's boiling down complicated remotes to something elegant and simple. Nice.
  • Siri's "What did they say?" feature which automatically jumps back 15 seconds AND temporarily turns on closed captioning is genius. The ability to access Siri info while watching AppleTV without interrupting what your watching is also very nice.
  • The Apps feature, assuming they get some good games, could really put a dent in Wii, Playstation, and Xbox sales. Apple TV certainly has the power to play good games.
  • Where my disappointment comes in is that I honestly thought Apple would be coming out with their own network content offerings, thus allowing everybody to build a cable package of only the channels they want to pay for. I am so sick and fucking tired of paying for an outrageously expensive cable package filled with tons of shit I don't want, but have to pay for. Oh well. It's coming one of these days. It pretty much has to, even if Apple isn't the one to do it.
  • Given how much money I've got invested in iTunes Store media AND the fact that my Apple TV is really old... I'll probably go ahead and spend the $149 come late October (since I won't be playing games (I have consoles for that), the $199 version would be overkill). Blergh.

iPad Pro

Okay. I'm just going to come right out and say it... I want one of these things so very, very bad.

Surprise!

I've been jonesing for a graphics tablet with display for the longest time. Problem is they are incredibly expensive, and the stylus lag coupled with the thick glass above the display on more affordable models is a total boner-killer for me. But here comes Apple with a new "Apple Pencil" that apparently eliminates lag and is coupled with Apple's laminated display which minimizes the amount of glass between you and what you're drawing...

And, oh yeah... it's still an iPad, so it can do everything an iPad can already do on top of being a kick-ass graphics tablet display. Giving you a much bigger bang for your buck than purchasing a graphics tablet display alone.

And about that price...

$799 for a 32GB model (pretty useless if you're doing serious work)
$949 for a 128GB model (more realistic, but I was hoping for at least 256GB)

Add a $99 Apple Pencil and you're over $1000 for the model you want. Which hurts. But that's roughly what a Wacom Cintiq 13" HD Touch runs, and it can only do one thing (though, admittedly, it does it very well). So, assuming iPad Pro and Apple Pencil end up being as good as they look, APPLE! TAKE MY MONEY!

Guess we'll find out come November.

   

All things considered, a worthy Apple Event.

My favorite part of the show was closing it out with a great live performance by OneRepublic. My second-favorite was the news that Apple now has an Android app for transitioning from an Android phone to an iPhone. Classic!

Android to iPhone Transfer App

   
As a Certified Apple Whore, I never feel more alive than when Apple releases something new that I want.

   

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