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One iPad User's Story Of Inadequacy

To reinforce the problems an iPad presents to users who wish to make it their primary computer I thought I'd share an illustrative experience which one of my colleagues has 'enjoyed' since being swayed from his Surface Pro 4 to the original iPad Pro 12.9" earlier this year.

His own use mostly mirrors mine. Citrix Receiver to a corporate desktop, local access to OneNote for extensive note-taking and the use of a number of local tools for day to day activities.

My colleague is a very Apple-oriented consumer, having both an iPhone 7 Plus and an Apple Watch, with an older MacBook Pro in use at home. The Surface Pro 4 was a step out of his comfort zone and he loved it. Until the point when the iPad Pro waved its Apple sauce under his nose and his partisanship took him down the road of the iPad Pro.

Now he finds himself in a particularly hamstrung position. 

For note-taking he is back to using a paper pad and pencil. Complaints about the Apple Pencil's battery life and usability for note taking have prevented him from continuing to take electronic notes. This retrograde step makes him hugely less efficient straight off the bat.

Then there's the desktop access part of the equation. Previously he used the same setup as mine. A single USB plug to a DisplayLink dock offering two 1080p monitors and a full size keyboard / mouse setup. With all that screen estate it was easy to drive Citrix across the two external screens and keep OneNote running on the Surface Pro's internal display. 

Now he is stuck with using the Apple Lightning to VGA adapter to mirror the iPad's single screen - not actually filling the larger monitor because of the difference in aspect ratios and with some loss of quality resulting from the scaling down of the iPad's internal display to 1080p on the external monitor.

This means using Apple's Smart Keyboard on the desk (which is a frankly horrible experience) together with the Citrix iPad mouse (which isn't and that because it's not an Apple product) to access the corporate desktop in Receiver. And having to toggle between apps each time he needs to use a local application. For example bringing up OneNote pages for review or editing.

Even leveraging the power of Citrix to drive a real computing experience the iPad Pro comes up short of the Surface - or indeed any other Windows 10 2-in-1 hybrid device. 

So whilst Apple is on the journey, it's starting from a long way behind. If anything its fair to say that the gap between the Surface Pro and iPad is greater now than it was when the original Surface Pro launched back in 2013.

That's a result of three years of complacency at Apple. And now it needs to work twice as hard to start reducing the gap. 

For my colleague I'm expecting a switch back to a Surface sometime in the near future. Despite his protestations of the iPad's adequacy, every day he becomes a little less defensive and a little more honest of the problems his setup now gives him. 

Painful for him to admit but Apple has no viable product for his use case right now. So for him at least, the above image is painfully true.