I was an early adopter of Android tablets, and my most recent one (a 2014 Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1) was excellent. It’s still excellent, but runs an ancient version of Android – too ancient for my paranoia about information security, so it needed replacement.

At the same time I wanted to improve my ability to work on cramped trains and airplanes, and get better value out of the research literature. After much soul searching, I’ve bought an ipad 10.5 pro. I really would have liked to buy another Note 10, but Samsung don’t seem to do one with a holstered pen any more … and I was seduced by two things in this blog article: LaTex on a tablet, and using it as a second screen (in hotel rooms, and at home). Also, as a Mac Pro user, I could see the advantages of the ecosystem (long time readers will feel sad for me at this point!).

It also looks like for the moment that Google has lost the plot in terms of support for it’s Android tablet community, and it certainly looks like developers aren’t really targeting the tablet per se in the android ecosystem, so I felt I had little choice at the moment (maybe a Chrome tablet next time? I couldn’t quite bring myself to go Surface). I suspect this is a bad time to buy even an Apple tablet given they’ll probably announce something whizzie in a couple of months, but on the other had I do trust apple to support this one in terms of operating systems as long as I want to keep using it.

So this is by way of first impressions:

  • The Pen sucks in comparison to the Samsung pen. It’s big, too smooth, and seems to need (a long time) power charging nearly every day through it’s stupidly cumbersome charging arrangement (with lots of little pieces to lose). It’s not noticeably better as a tool than the (powerless) Samsung stylus, at least for me and my scribbles.
  • Having to use a lightening adaptor for the main tablet charging seems a blast from the past, and I really resent the idea of having to carry an extra cable just to charge this device (and its pen).
  • The sharing mechanism (between apps) is more cumbersome and less prevalent than in Android, and as for common app behaviour - that’s a myth …

However, the first few apps I have downloaded are pretty good (although GoodNotes is not a patch on Squid for notes and drawing). Browzine works properly on the ipad (it didn’t on my ancient android tablet, despite help from the developers, and despite working well on my android phone).

This last point was pretty important for me. My “academic reading” in recent years has mainly consisted of making lists of things I ought to read, rather than actually reading them in depth (and/or making notes). The big objective here was to improve that workflow, and it seemed like I would have a better chance in IOS-land … although Zotero doesn’t work here (yet).

I’ll let you know how I go!