iPad Pro on a Plane

I’m sitting in a bulkhead seat on a flight from ORD to Reagan Interntional so my tray table is unusually small. I’ve spent the last hour watching episode 4 of Amazon’s, “The Man in the High Castle” that I downloaded via the Amazon video app prior to departure. That experience has been outstanding. But I also wanted to try and get some work done. I don’t typically buy the inflight wireless, so the work I do on flights happens to be of the type that can be done locally. 

The ipad itself is big on the tray, but there is still room for my beverage and I’m able to type. While cramped, I can do it rather effectively on the glass surface of the device. If I had a bit more elbow room all would be well. It is not a problem with the size of the device itself, in fact I find that the larger target points of the virtual keys to be an advantage. 


Make no mistake, this thing is big for travel. That is part of the allure however. I’m traveling to a CIC CIO meeting at the University of Maryland and all I am taking is the iPad Pro. I don’t yet have the Apple Keyboard Case so while in flight I am restricted to typing on the glass. It’s actually not that bad, given the cramped quarters. For full disclosure, I did bring along an Apple Magic Keyboard for the inevitable evening email catch up sessions. 

As an additional test, while I am at the meeting I have to find time in the evenings to finish up a presentation for my advisory board, BCAS. That will push me to create with Keynote, something I usually do on my Mac. I’ve done it before, but leaving a high pressure presentation to being done on a tablet has me a little nervous.  I expect I’ll be able to do about 90% of that work from the iPad Pro, leaving the last mile for my Mac. That is just a guess at this point.

Here are my impressions for this device inflight. The thing is a very good alternative to lugging a laptop and with the built in LTE it is an even stronger travel device. While it is big, it isn’t too big, in fact with a screen the size as my 13″ MacBook Pro, it takes up less room on my tray. The screen is exceptional for writing in the WordPress app as well as playing a game or watching video content. The new multitasking features of iOS 9 make using the Pro a dream compared to a generation ago, but the larger screen makes it even better. I’ve not yet landed, but so far I am enjoying flying with the iPad Pro.

5 thoughts on “iPad Pro on a Plane

  1. I took a look at Brad’s last week. While I don’t see a place for this device in my personal workflow, if I didn’t have a need for software that only exists on OSX, I could easily see this thing taking the place of both my iPad and MacBook. iOS features like split screen really make me re-think multitasking. And the Apple Pencil is pretty awesome – very little latency and pressure sensitivity brings it very close to the experience of a real pen. I see Tim Cook’s point about keeping OSX and iOS separate, but the iPad Pro is teetering right in the middle, which was inevitable and I think pretty exciting.

    • Hi Chris … I’m not ready to declare this my only computing device as I still feel constrained. With that said, as I am using it I am learning that what I thought was missing is there, just in a different place or through a different workflow. I used to use my iPad all the time, but through the transition to UChicago I’ve been much more bound to my laptop … this is a nice way to transition back to something much more portable, especially when I travel. I don’t ever get my laptop out on a plane, instead I would typically travel with both my iPad and my MB Pro, this lightens that load. I am going to try and live on this as my primary machine for a few weeks and see how it goes. At a minimum it will give me stuff to write about!

  2. I’ve found my Surface Pro 3 to work well as my main work travel device, however it does still have a few annoying quirks that pop-up from time-to-time (mainly with the dock, in my case). I find the Surface and most larger tablets (> 10″) too large for reading though, so I tend to bring along a smaller tablet or e-ink device for that.

    Amazon Video with the option for offline viewing of content is indeed outstanding – particularly when traveling or even just wanting to watch at the gym where the “free” wi-fi is not up to the task for streaming video. Also, I’m on episode 6 of “The Man in the High Castle” and quite enjoying it…the grasshopper lies heavy.

  3. I’d be a lot more excited about the iPad Pro as a laptop replacement if there were versions of R Studio and Finale that ran on it (and also if it were one or two hundred dollars cheaper).

    • I agree that there are specific pieces of software that make the iPad an unrealistic tool for some. I am not in that camp and to tell you the truth, I am finding more and more apps that make using it actually more enjoyable than my MacBook Pro. I’ve gone a full week and a half (with a trip in the middle) with only using my laptop once in a mobile context. I had to give a presentation last week and didn’t have the right lightning connector for what I that would be VGA. Turned out it was HDMI and I had the right connector in my bag.

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