Apple IPad Pro 12.9 Inch Review & Comparison To Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio

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You might have seen my recent review about the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio over here. You may remember mine met with an ill fate. A fate likely caused by a defective Surface Pen… The pen would not do anything. I changed the batteries, I knew how to charge it correctly under the lip of the laptop… And in device settings it said it had 100% battery life.

I read an article about unpairing and repairing the device… so I unpaired it… and could not repair it… because it was effectively dead…. No lights, no nothing. I’d only had the device for 10 days… but since Best Buy’s cutoff for returns is 14 days… and at least my local Best Buy is running some weird COVID19 hours still… closing at 6 or 7 pm and I had to work past that time… We had gone up the night before only to discover they were closed, and knew we couldn’t make the next night either…. So on day 12 of 14, when they offered to ship me a new pen…. well… I was nervous… What if it WASN’T the pen?! What if it was a problem with the bluetooth inside the $3,000 computer???

No way was I going to have a dead defective $3,000 12 day old laptop… I took it back to Best Buy – my local store – with hopes of exchanging it – but they did not have the pen – at all. I am a graphic designer (among other marketing types of titles) and had some deadlines coming up this week and next week too and feeling stressed and pressured, I just returned the whole thing…

They also did not have the $3,000 2 TB Nvidia graphics card model…. I lamented my sad farewell to a device that I genuinely truly LOVED…. If that pen hadn’t died, it was a DREAM MACHINE…. One that the Ipad Pro does not even hold a candle to in my mind….

They could have shipped me a new Surface Pen and/or New Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio, but with deadlines approaching and return deadline looming, and needing a tablet… I asked them to recommend a device for me. I suggested Waccom – and told them I used to use them in college but that I missed having an all-in-one device, which is why I tried Surface – less cords, wires, accessories to carry, etc. I’d never owned one of the NICE Waccoms with the screens built-in, and even though I would still need a PC with that device, I was thinking that was the direction I would go in….

But the “kid” (sorry I’m 40, so you all look like kids to me now lol) working there recommended the Ipad Pro 12.9 Inch model…. I had/have had Ipads… LOTS of them, from the very first one, to minis, to in and out and inbetween… My most recent one being newer than my 2 year old laptop – BUT I’d never owned a Pro…. Inevitably… My Ipads collect dust. I think Oh that’s nice for travel, or that’s nice for hospital stays (I have epilepsy and have to get monitored sometimes for days or weeks on end and stuck with rails up in a hospital bed) – But aside from Travel and Hospital stays…. The last time I used my Ipad was a hospital stay less than a year ago – and I remember the damn thing falling over, falling apart, falling off of it’s expensive $100 keyboard accessory… It now lays in a drawer and my 2 older Ipad Minis lay at the bottom of a closet somewhere… Trade in value minimal and not worth the effort of trying to sell online. My Iphone with a larger hard drive runs most of the same apps and just makes digging my IPad out kinda pointless.

But the kid swore it’s the BEST tablet, top of the line, perfect for what I needed when I explained I need to do a lot of large size graphic design like trade show displays floor to ceiling huge art files. I grimaced and stared at the tiny screen… Then grimaced more when he told me it was out of stock and they had the 11 inch. I balked now and put my foot down. He checked his scanning tool one more time and somehow now magically had a 12.9 inch Ipad Pro in stock…

With Best Buy already technically closed – We barely made it in there like 20 minutes before closing with their weird COVID hours – And other stores like Staples soon closing as well – With already having returned my beloved Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio…. and most important projects due this week… I hastily decided to spend the $1,099 for the Ipad Pro 12.9 inch model, and another $300-400 for the pen and keyboard.

I just unboxed it yesterday and got it all set up. And I’m both impressed and disappointed at the same time. Having never owned any of the “Pro” Ipads before, I was impressed how amazingly sturdy the magnets were. It was not going to fall off of that keyboard which was my biggest complaint with any “non Pro” Ipad I’ve owned in the past.

I’m disappointed because not ALL of the adobe cloud applications work on Ipad Pro – Nope few and far do actually. The most important ones for the tablet, Illustrator and Photoshop work – and that’s good enough because I do have my Pink Razer Laptop from 2020. BUT inconvenient to have to start one project on one device and switch to another device – like dreamweaver or the full version of adobe premiere (instead of just premiere rush) or adobe captivate – or other I dunno, less “drawing” related applications. There’s a reason the word is “Multimedia” because multi means more than one – and in Adobe you can import and export files between all of the programs. Now I have to switch computers or even switch rooms if I’m downstairs with one device etc. It’s more of a hassle.

I’m also disappointed but knew fully well when I purchased it that it can’t run regular windows programs – office suite – but also all my steam games – not a deal breaker as I already preordered a steam deck – and my 2 year old Razer can still get the job done – but again just a huge hassle having so many different devices, when the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio was truly an all in one work of wonder.

The specific model of Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio that I purchased had a 2TB hard drive… My Ipad – the best most expensive model of IPad – at least at my local Best Buy – only has 256 GB – My Razer also only came with a 256GB Hard drive – I went out and bought a 5TB external HD for my Razer years ago… because of that hard drive though, my razer never leaves its desk now – all the cords and this hard drive is almost as big – and heavy – as the laptop itself… Hassle… Again the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio was a dream come true – convenient all in one – I was barely touching my Razer – and only for some saved files and logins on my Razer.

Another disapointing feature obviously is the tiny screen size. This is a huge drawback for an artist. It’s about as small as the tiniest Waccom tablet – Actually, I just checked and the Waccom One is an inch bigger diagonally and includes the pen – and is only $350. Compared to over $1,000 for the IPad Pro and $300-400 for the keyboard and pen.

Another advantage Waccom, and Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio both have over the Ipad Pro is their “Easel” modes. This puts the pad at like a 45 degree angle and is more comfortable for drawing. I’m sure there’s third party Easel stands/cases for the Ipad Pro on the market and I will probably buy one, but again more things to carry around when the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio was again “all in one”.

When drawing on the IPad Pro, it feels MUCH MORE like glass… I only had the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio for less than 2 weeks – but used it a lot 8+ hours a day in that time – and it felt VERY natural – I didn’t notice it feeling like drawing on glass. I used my IPad Pro for maybe 2 hours so far and it feels awful…. I dunno if it’s the pen or the screen – or the angle of the screen. I do see they make screen covers that will supposedly make it feel more like drawing on paper…. I might have to try that…. because it’s really uncomfortable and annoying and not natural at all. Completely different feeling than drawing on my Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio.

Also because of no easle mode, my wrists bump the keyboards when drawing and sometimes have unintended consequences interrupting me work, activating shortcuts or inserting text, etc. And the keyboard honestly digs into my wrists. The keyboard sits flat and isn’t very comfortable for typing either. It is much sturdier than any past Apple Keyboards I’ve owned and the keys have a satisfying feeling and sound when pressing them, but still not quite like a “real” keyboard.

The pen itself is a bit inferrior also the the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio. It lets you double tap to erase something but I can’t get it to work. It lets you scratch out text – and that works for me, but the keyboard is quicker. The Surface Pen had an eraser on one end and would automatically erase… And it felt more natural for me. It also had two programable shortcut keys, the Apple Pen has none.

But… Is it all bad?

No, it is not all bad at all…. For 1/3 of the price of the highest end Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio… It’s about what I’d expect for a more “value priced” product – if you call $1,000 + to be “value priced”. If I had my pick, I’d definitely pay the extra money and take the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio.

This IPad Pro is however MUCH better than previous IPads I have owned, never having owned the “Pro” of any generation before… The non-pros are pretty much worthless in my opinion because they won’t stay on their keyboards or even the Ipad cover with the little triangle flip stand without falling off / falling apart / falling over. The IPad Pro fixes that issue with stronger magnets. Why doesn’t Apple just use the same magnets in all their IPads? Magnets alone can’t be that expensive. I know the technology inside the IPad Pro is much better than the technology in non “Pros” – but still not as advanced as a computer – which the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio is an actual computer. The Ipad Pro is still just a tablet.

Battery life is about the same, and I’m pleased with that. Both Ipad Pro and Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio have excellent Battery Life. 8+ hours unplugged and doing intensive graphic work (or gaming in the case of the Surface).

And although I miss having my Steam Games and Windows Programs – Especially the full version of adobe suite products, Ipad does have some unique one of a kind programs, games, movies, and apps available only on the IPAD – does that make up for losing and lacking those other apps and games? In my opinion no, but it depends on what you plan to use the device for. I downloaded a lot of my streaming services to watch movies even though it’s a tiny screen, it’s good for on the go.

It’s lighter weight – by a little bit. Ipad Pro is 1.5 lbs for the IPAD itself plus another 1.3 lbs for the Magic Keyboard which is 2.8 lbs which is still one pound lighter than Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio at 3.8 lbs.

I dunno what else to say about it really – It gets the job done and is cheaper than Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio by a long shot – if you want the best of both models. You could buy 3 of the best IPAD pros for just one of the best Microsoft Surface Laptop Studios.

If budget is a concern, or you’re just a diehard Apple fan, get the IPAD Pro, otherwise for me, the clear winner here is Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio. If I wasn’t up against tight deadlines, I would have just had Bestbuy ship me another Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio… And this IPAD might go back before 14 days in favor of another Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio and try again – although I’m still scared about the pen dying. I googled it a bit and that does seem to be a common issue… I know the nibs on the Apple Pen will eventually need replaced too, but I couldn’t even buy a new Microsoft Surface Pen because it’s not as prolific as the IPAD.

That’s another win for Apple there, replacement parts, 3rd party parts, and new whole parts are readily available at every single Best Buy, Staples, Walmart, Target, you name it, they got it. My fear of a pen dying when I’m racing against deadlines, might just convince me to stick with this IPAD. My experiences with past Apple products (long time Iphone embracer) have all been positive. And even old IPADs although mostly collecting dust, still do work every time I decide to dig them out.

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