Home > Personal Technology > Apple > I’ve Gone iPad-only, Here’s Why You Should, Too.

I can’t lie. I scoffed when I heard that Apple considered the iPad a computer. Surely no one takes people who use iPads with keyboards seriously?

Oh, how the tables have turned. I’ve spent the best part of the last six months on my iPad, and I’m actually enjoying it far more than I have on some of the sleekest, most powerful, most expensive laptops in my time.

To be fair, I’ve got the good fortune to have most of Apple’s current five-device iPad line-up on hand to make such a bold statement. But it’s not too far-fetched, even if you consider yourself a “power user”. There’s a huge caveat that comes with that statement, but we’ll get to it later.

Form factor

That’s because the main draw of any iPad is its impossibly sleek, versatile and premium-feeling form factor. Pull it out at the beach or the boardroom, on the plane or in the bedroom, standing, sitting or prone – and it fits right in.

The iPad Mini (2019) is the best tablet for on-the go reading. Image: Ian Ling

With the keyboard-compatible models, I did find the Apple-made keyboards sufficient, but not the most optimal for lap-top operation. Since it involved horrible hunching and oblique viewing angles, I found that it was much, much more ideal to take to the Pencil instead.

That, in particular, is especially ideal for students, who find physically writing a powerful mnemonic tool, or perhaps deal with complicated subjects that are best understood with diagrams, symbols, or a ton of annotations down the margins of endless readings.

The iPad Pro follows me wherever I go. Image: Ian Ling

For the fulfilment of my Economics and Political Science degree, my needs happen to fall into all three categories. Studying is far more efficient with pen and paper (or Pencil and iPad) since I wouldn’t have to take the time to re-set the context on a completely blank set of notes.


Every iPad now supports Pencil. Yes, every. Only the 2018 Pro models support the Pencil Gen 2 with its cool magnetic attachment system and double-tap sensing magic, but the Gen 1 Pencil is not shabby at all.

The new 10.5-inch iPad Air 2019, shown with Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil. Image: Apple

Yes, you can see why most students would love Pencil functionality. But for most other users, what advantages could Pencil bring?

1. Deep reading

I find that I better internalise books with a notepad on hand. Despite my profession as a writer, there are words I encounter that require some research. Into the word bank note it goes. Otherwise, information-heavy books require some sort of affirmative action on my end to ensure no point gets lost in the hazy ether of speed-reading.

2. Note-taking

Sure, you could hammer away at your keys while attempting to make eye contact with the presenter, but nothing feels as intimate and makes the person speaking feel as listened to than constant, attentive eye-contact with furious scribbling hand motions.

The cheapest iOS device with the powerful A12 chip and Pencil support, the iPad Mini (2019) really is ideal for students of all backgrounds. Image: Ian Ling

Disagree with me as much as you might, but I’ve seen enough clandestine Facebook usage to treat typing audience members and oblique screens with healthy scepticism.

3. Drawing and other tasks that require fine-touch control

But I don’t draw! Well, honey, neither do I. But it’s 2019 and you need to have some sort of artistic talent to be decently interesting. Be it calligraphy, sketching or just plain, old doodling, the Pencil transforms your workhorse-cum-media consumption device into a portable, reusable canvas that won’t drain your art-and-craft fund for your clumsy amateur mistakes.

In any case, without the Pencil, the iPads function perfectly well. No sweat if you’re not convinced.


For absolute power, I’d defer to the iPad Pro 2018 every time, perhaps over the MacBook and MacBook Air ranges. If the A12X Bionic chip is out of your reach financially, the regular A12 features on the 2019 iPad mini and iPad Air models.

While I mostly work on text processors, the occasional 4K video doesn’t put much of a fight against the iPad Pro. Image: Ian Ling

The benchmarks have been done, and they don’t mean anything since they don’t directly compare with the competition with the inherent differences in OS. Suffice to say that speed of 4K rendering on Lumafusion has got me off my Mac and editing on-the-go, even on my A12-chipped iPhone, and iPads Air and mini.


No dough to drop on the latest 12.9″ iPad Pro 2018? Go for the iPad Air 10.5″. Prefer a small-and-light, take-everywhere tablet? iPad mini. One for your child, that will be the perfect companion for work and play? iPad 2017.

Can’t choose? Multiple iPads really are

The Air and Pro are the ones compatible with the Apple-made keyboards, but even the 2017 iPad has its


Yes, I’ve saved the most controversial for last. It’s the Achilles Heel of the iPad range. No mouse/cursor support (yet), a flawed multitasking solution (which also might be fixed), and a terrible, terrible file management system (at least, that’s what everyone’s saying).

I’ve seen and heard it all, but in my months upon months of exclusive usage (at least while mobile), I’ve never encountered any significant drawback.

Pictures rescale for web use better on Mac, with the native preview interface. No sweat, iPad’s got an app for that.


The applications on the iPad are nothing short of phenomenal. All tech users fall into two categories: those who are willing to pay for mobile applications, and Android users. As a life-long Android user, I never saw the need to part with my hard-earned dollars for added functionality on a device I had shelled out over a thousand for.

Like I said, how the tables turn.

This is how it starts. You power on your iDevice for the first time. Apple’s native apps are superb. Pages, Notes, Keynote are seamlessly integrated between my iPad and desktop Mac, meaning I can work remotely and never miss a beat. Handoff works on both Safari and Chrome, meaning I get home, power up my Mac, and continue the articles I peruse on my iPhone. Even iMovie, the Podcast app, or apps as innocuous as the Calendar and Mail app are brilliantly integrated.

But they inevitably miss out a thing or two that would just make it that bit more ideal.

Without turning this rambling piece into an app-recommendation list, my productivity apps really centre in on Notability, Moleskine’s Timepage, Lumafusion, and Apple’s own iWork suite of apps (except Numbers. Nobody uses Numbers).


Apple’s latest iPadOS announcement killed it. They’ve long boasted about the iPad being a game-changer in the world of computing, but the new OS really is the first concrete step the company has taken to cement the product’s place in the tablet world.

Great use of space? Check. Proper multitasking? Check. File management? Check. Desktop-class web browsing? Check. Gesture support? Check. Sidecar, turning your iPad into a second screen for your Mac? Super check!

I can’t wait for September.

Ian Ling
Ian is the resident Tech Monkey and Head of Content at VR Zone. His training in Economics and Political Science is at the basis of his love for journalism and storytelling. A photographer by passion, and an audiophile by obsession, Ian is captivated by all forms of tech that makes enthusiasts tick.

11 thoughts on “I’ve Gone iPad-only, Here’s Why You Should, Too.

  1. Rob

    An interesting read.
    I have an old iMac, MacBook Pro, and iPad Air.
    I’ve been considering upgrading but each week change my mind how I want to upgrade. Do I try to go 100% iPad, or do I need a computer?

    Most things I do, including my photography I can happily do on an iPad (pro) which is great. But my work also needs things like being able to run Jupyter notebooks. Turns out there is an app for that now to (Juno for Jupyter discovered just now).
    I think I still need a machine somewhere to run VM’s on, but this could be cloud based rather than my own hardware.
    And since my work provide me with a laptop any use I have of tools like PowerBI can be done on there to develop my work reports.

  2. Brian

    Each to his own i guess, me i have always disregarded that brand, since their MP3 player which they was also very arrogant about.
    But a few years ago i did touch one of their devises as my niece had me take a picture of her and her sister and mother with her phone.
    And i still feel dirty,,,,,, a little bit more than my google dependent products leave me feeling.
    Which i recon are also a part of me only touching my android phone for a average of 5 minutes every week.
    Also i would not read on the go, while i very much enjoy reading, then i feel i die a little every time i handle a phone or my cheap tablet ( which i only use for navigation in the car every 2 years or so )
    I really wish they was not building a datacenter here ( 2 was planned ) i think we could use the green Danish power for something better than powering that parasitic monster.

  3. azamino

    there is a convergence emerging in 2019-2020.
    apple iPad with new iPadOS will make an iPad running it more and more capable and customized to an iPad sized device.
    at the same time, apple is putting tremendous resources and tools behind making formerly iOS apps be able to be easily compiled and formatted to run on a device such as a Macbook or Macbook Air.

    the cross over – tipping point will be when iPadOS has sufficiently matured to make work on an iPad very easy, and when the iPad finally has a Smart Keyboard that has a trackpad built into it.

  4. -hh

    The author’s quite young. Just wait until there’s ten years worth of important email to retain, along with 2, 3, 4 (or lots more) TB of personal data to manage. Note that Apple’s icloud services maxes out at only 2TB.

  5. Brian's Mum


    You disappoint me. I’ve sent you to university, and yet your English is littered with spelling and grammatical errors.

    “since their MP3 player which they was also very arrogant about.”

    They was? They was mad at you for horrific English.

    No iPads for you, my son. No, a $50 Walmart Android is all that you deserve. Perhaps, when you “lurn Englash bettir” I will let you buy an iPad.

    Until then, Scumdroid is where you’ll have to stay.

  6. HH's Dad


    Are you aware that, in the past, Apple did not have a 2TB iCloud tier?

    Are you aware that, in the future, Apple will have an iCloud tier larger than 2TB?

    HH – I’ve sent you to university, and yet you are unable to make simple predictions about the future!

    You’re not one of Brian’s clueless friends, are you? Shame HH, shame! What does HH stand for anyway, hard hat? Hard head? Hulked Head?

    Brian, HH – grow up, boys. Those things you have dangling are balls, make use ‘of em, eh? Lest they be torn asunder by your ineptitude, naïveté and girls with bigger balls than the pair of you.

  7. -hh

    @HH’S DAD:

    > “Are you aware that, in the past, ..”

    Yes, I’m quite aware of how slowly Apple moves, especially for such ‘free’ stuff. Unfortunately, your prediction that Apple will *eventually* get around to offering an iCloud tier > 2TB is logically irrelevant.

    It is irrelevant because:

    (a) the need is already there today, at least for some percentage of the user base. As such, your prediction of how the future will eventually solve this contemporary issue is of no relevant help;

    (b) the demand signal (rate of data consumption) isn’t fixed or static, but is growing and accelerating. By the time that Apple “skates to where the puck was” in 2019, the contemporary 2+TB need will have become 4+TB, etc, and Apple will still be behind.


    (c) the base technology of the Cloud relies on a communication infrastructure that is assumed to be pervasive, affordable, and of relatively high bandwidth. But it is also a nodal point of failure even before we consider about what happens when traveling outside of its wireless umbrella.

    > “I’ve sent you to university” …

    The slang term you’re looking for is: “I’ve schooled you”.
    ‘Tis a real shame you didn’t get the facts (or your claim) right.

    But you can try to make up some of your lost ground with a homework problem that’s appropriate for a suitably juvenile as your writings Middle School class:

    1. determine how many hours it would take to upload each 0.5TB of data on a wireless link running at an effective 50% throughput for each of the following:

    a. Fastest WiFi connection protocol supported by the iPad Pro
    b. Protocol employed by current infrastructure 4G cellular networks
    c. The future bandwidth potential of 5G cellular network

    Show all work.


  8. Brian

    I am sorry i missed that university, actually the languages i know fairly well like English – German Swedish – Norwegian – Spanish – French i have all taught myself,
    In school i spoke better English than my teacher that spoke like the Swedish cook in the Muppet show,i will give that my German teacher was better at it than me, but i spent most of his classes ( too ) outside the door or at the principals office.
    And i dident get a MP3 player, why should i when i had spent huge money on tube amplifier’s B&W speakers ( changed speakers like underwear ) and my record player was to a large degree home build, based around a SME arm costing several months of wages.
    Sadly i was not smarter than i later sold most of it.
    Not least my around one ton of LP records i miss.

    And MOM you should be happy, now that you are old and sick i am the only one that come and visit you every week, the others kids and your own siblings only turn up if they have some bills you can pay for then.
    So lighten up MOM or i will do like most do to old people and ignore them.

  9. Brian's Mon

    See how my son treats me? Threatening to ignore me. Spends more time learning languages than caring for his Mom. All that money I spent giving him a great education, and now he threatens to abandon me! Oh for shame.

    Good thing I have an iPad and can do all my work on my iPad and decide which kids to leave my multi-million inheritances to… 🙂

    Don’t worry, Brian, tu est dans mon coeur.

  10. v_chen

    …perhaps. To each his own. When you mention ‘power user’ – so Ian, how do you define it? Mac products serve its purposes within certain contexts. Windows too. It all boils down to what you really need to work with. I used to work with a team of Mac/Apple fans – they’ll purchase and upgrade their Apple gadgets almost on a yearly basis – but none of them use their Ipad pro much – I know because I used to see them practically everyday – all the time. They’ll buy it, catwalk with them for a week or 2, and it ‘vanished’ after that. The next thing is they’ll be talking about upgrading and all that – but they don’t use it during meetings much, because they are only surfing the web. They couldn’t use it for work, because it’s not powerful enough (yes ‘not powerful enough’). Once a while I’ll ask them, “so what’s up with your Ipad pro? I don’t see it around nowadays’…they’ll oh I left it at home, use it on bed…yada yada – and usually sheepishly. So what’s my point, as I mentioned earlier on – ‘to each his own’, and your perception of ‘power user’ is rather vague. Nothing wrong with this article, but very “Op-ed”…

  11. -hh

    @ V_Chen:

    Excellent point regarding what is a ‘Power’ user for Ian to address in his assessment. And I’ll provide a simple litmus test to illustrate:

    The Sony a9 digital camera in the one photo is a pretty pricey piece of photo gear … so using it to scope this ‘Power’ perspective, just how many GB worth of memory cards does Ian own **and regularly use** for it? Because the ‘Pro’ perspective is to have sufficient capacity to get shoots completed without needing to take a “download the cards” break.

    Case in point: consider a wildlife safari: two weeks in Africa will translate to at least ten full ‘game drive’ days, and IME, one can easily shoot 300 images/day (more with video), which means that our logistical planning estimate is 10*300*50MB, plus a conservatism factor. For a +25% conservatism factor, the minimum data storage requirement is therefore 187.5GB.

    Now sure, you can lower this if one adds an iPad (or laptop) to conduct intermediate downloads to, to free up memory cards. But the implementation logistics of this strategy introduces additional issues:

    (a) The weight limitations on Bush aircraft are quite stringent: 15kg (33lbs) for **everything** (personal effects, clothing, camera gear), since a tablet/laptop adds weight, what other capability are you going to have to leave behind? No, its not going to be clothing because that’s already been cut to pack your 400mm lens. So will it be a spare camera body? Or long telephoto lens? Your second battery charger & extra batteries? Note that these will introduce and/or increase your single-point-of-failure risks.

    (b) If the strategy is to upload to the cloud, Is there any wireless connectivity at all where you’re going to be shooting? If wireless does exist, at what bandwidth performance? And at what cost per GB? What’s the daily bandwidth cap? Don’t assume.

    (c) Where’s your power coming from to run all of these digital devices, and what are the hours for which power is available with which to recharge? If a camp’s power system is down, how many days can you go without any power to recharge anything?

    (d) Time is finite and the time you spend doing these activities has to be taken out of some other activity. Odds are that you’ve giving up sleep, which means your performance will be degraded on the shoots. That’s a really lousy trade-off to make for the want of $500 worth of memory cards when on a $1000/day shoot.

    And so on.

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