iPad Pro 12.9" Review: A pretty good drawing device

Discussion in 'Apple/iOS' started by Theme57, Jun 30, 2019.

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  1. Theme57

    Theme57 Pen Pal - Newbie

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    One year of the mid 2017 iPP, but this also applies to the 2018 model too.

    Info and Apps:

    My case of choice was a Zugu, I used a marker to stretch the rear Apple Pencil sleeve to accommodate a thin silicone AP sleeve. The brand was Hydream silicone sleeve that run around 6.99 USD. Typing was on screen and I never used/own a keyboard. Screen protector is a Tech Armor Anti-Glare. Truth be told, I used liquid super glue to adhere the sleeve to the pencil and have had ZERO issues with it slipping off. It slides nicely in the sleeve too and protects the cap. School Apps were: notability, GrafNCalc83, PDF Expert, Documents, and Word. Art and related apps are: EasyCanvas (Astropad if you are a MacOS user), Artstudio Pro, and Sketchbook. Other related apps I am experimenting with are Animation and FlipaClip. Desktop programs are Clip Studio Paint Pro, Live2d, Photoshop CS6, Hitfilm 4 Pro and Opentoonz.

    Review as a school/multimedia device:

    TL:DR - It's a great school device and you can get a lot of mileage out of it. If your class requires desktop software you are a bit SOL. Get a USB you can transfer files to and from and you are golden.

    I honestly wasn't a real firm believer at first. I didn't see it more than a basic note taker and audio recorder. My classes were creative writing, chemistry, econ and a few other online classes. Nothing groundbreaking in terms of req software. I found it worked the best when I had a laptop side by side, but only due to the lack of windows. I am a power user and usually have 5 windows open with 20 tabs each. I couldn't quite do that with the iPP, but as the days went by it wasn't too much of an issue. I ended up ditching my laptop half way through the semester. To put it lightly, no pun intended, the weight savings and ease of carry made it worth having as the only device I carried around. It became my go-to device the rest of the semester.

    The biggest issue I had was file management sometimes. This shouldn't be an issue in future models or if you have a wireless USB or something, but there were many many times I wish I could put files (Word, pdf etc.) onto a USB and into a computer to print. Luckily my school has a portal online so it wasn't too bad. I found Artstudio Pro a really really good app when I needed to fill out or mark a paper and could turn it in another day. In fact, it really came in handy for Chem projects that required us to fill out a PDF or take photos. Trying a timed essay with the on screen keyboard was no real issue and wasn't that much slower than a physical keyboard (my WPM is around 80). Overall, while not a laptop replacement it really shined.

    Review as a drawing display and art device:

    TL:DR - Screen mirroring is where this device shines. The drawing apps are okay.

    I got this device after deciding it was better to have a larger display rather than a 10.5" iPP and sub 400 USD 15.6" digital drawing display at home. The ability for me to hook it up to my PC and use desktop apps to moving the file onto my iPP through iTunes (or Documents) to continue working on it until I got home to return to using desktop software is my use case. Hook it up to a monitor arm (modding a wooden easel to VESA) or placing it on a box and you are golden. At home I exclusively use it to mirror my 1080p display. I am not the best or most experienced artist by any means, but having spent 60 hours the past two weeks on a project from line work, to coloring, to light animation and video editing I never found it to handicap me. I am still trying to figure out how to use the full 3:4 screen, but notice more lag if I set my display to that resolution. At 16:9 1080p it's fine for me.

    I never found or felt like the display was too small even with 3 windows open at the same time. Clip Studio, Photoshop CS6, and Live2d play well with it. For quick lines and sketching I turned off stabilization and for detailed cleanup cranked it to max with a g-pen setting in CSP. There is a bit of lag, but nothing that caused me to mess up lines or the like. The device got a little warm after a few hours near the charge port with brightness set to 40%

    I want to address the complaint about no hover cursor. At first I though this would bother me, but in all honesty the AP is so accurate and pinpoint I never found it an issue. I will tap and undo sometimes if I forget the size of the tool or adjust. However, I tend to change the size of my tools A LOT. When I don't it's no issue. Connecting lines is easy; I rarely use Artstudio Pro outside of practicing, sketching or some touch ups. If you use Photoshop then you are golden since you can import those brushes to Artstudio Pro.

    Windows users will want to use/purchase EasyCanvas. Leagues better than Duet Display. MacOS users will want Astropad.

    Final Thoughts:

    My total cost was for everything was sub $1100. I opted for a 256GB model at $835, the case was $59.99 and screen protector at $5.99 for two. AP $99.99, sleeve at 6.99 and SuperGlue was Loctite at about $4.99. Paid apps included PDF Expert, Artstudio Pro, Noteabilty, and EasyCanvas. If we include CSP that's another $20 (got it on sale). The other paid programs I obtained through friends or school resources.

    If I were given the choice to buy the iPP again would I? Yes, and no. Truth be told the 10.5" was a birthday gift, but ended up shelling the difference for the exchange, accessories and apps. I look at it this way. A decent to accurate Wacom or alternative in a similar size (13 - 16 inches) will run between $350 - $650. A decent school computer around $400 - $500. That or opting for a real good touch screen device like the Samsung Notebook or Lenovo 2-in-1's at 800 - 1200 USD. If I didn't have a powerful desktop at home I'd get a good 2-in-1 for sub 1200. If I did then the iPP hands down. What you get with the iPP is a device capable of being both a really accurate digital drawing display and a decent lightweight school/multimedia device.

    The only caveat is longevity. I am concerned about the way Apple will change their software moving forward. Although, I feel more confident in Apple's repair/response to repairs than Wacom.
    wytn and Marty like this.
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