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New 12.9″ & 10.5″ Apple iPad Review – From an Art Perspective by Susan Murtaugh from Wisconsin, US

We are so proud and delighted to publish this thoroughly non technical but utterly intelligent, astute and well-informed iPad review by a remarkably talented iPad Artist, Susan Murtaugh from Two Rivers, Wisconsin, US, an artist whom we admire so much. Murtaugh purchased the brand new Apple  iPad 12.9″ and 10.5″ this week, these are her thoughts and conclusions. To my mind, these are the most relevant and important reviews artists’ can read – enjoy!


“I’m lucky, I was able to get both the 10.5 and 12.9 New iPad Pros. I have the previous versions to compare them to, though they are going to new owners today. My advice if you can afford it, get it. If you can’t… don’t. Because that’s good motherly advice.

The new ones are blazing fast. No no artist I know can paint or manipulate a photo as fast as these new puppies work. To check out the speed I opened maps, flicked the screen to the other side of the world, took two fingers zoomed in on Western Pomerania, City of Lobez, and quickly got to street view and found Krzecko Marzena Perfect Salon, a restaurant and Studio Reklamy all within a block of each other in the small town. (No I have not been there) I then, hit my address at the top of the screen and was almost instantly home. My goodness my iPhone 7 doesn’t work this fast. And I tried it just to be sure. So I guess that’s what they mean by great refresh rate. Wow, speedy indeed. (Told you this review is for the non technical!)  

The nitty gritty; Procreate and my favorite app SketchBook have updated to take advantage of all the new bells and whistles, I assume other apps have too or will in the near future. The large pro, 12.9, is very similar to the previous version, but it has updated innards to be faster and better. Both have 4 gigs of RAM. It has improved color, and screen, though if you didn’t compare them side by side this would be hard to notice. I feel the images are sharper and better on the new one, but it was far superior to other iPads on the older one. The pencil has always been a joy to use. On the new iPad it seems even more responsive and I could NOT detect a lag. Do know I was scribbling like a crazy person trying to trip it up. No one really works like that so it’s not real world applicable. I love the large size. I do almost all my drawing and painting on it and will continue to do so. But it’s a beast to carry around and use in the field. Now that’s because there’s an alternative. If there wasn’t I’d tame the beast and always have the thing with me.

The new 10.5 is a star. I liked the old 9.7. In fact I used it as a laptop, my go to device for surfing, face booking, reading and sending email. I’d take it on trips but as an art machine I’d only use it in a pinch. It works fine, so many love it but I prefer the big one. That is until they made it a tiny, tiny bit bigger. It’s now a dream machine. The smaller boarders, and the incrementally larger screen make a huge difference. If you’re a road warrior, a street or plein air painter this is the device for you. I painted my first waiting room art on it yesterday and really enjoyed the experience. (See attached)

Other loves….. the camera. Let me say that again, the camera. It’s smashing. OMG I never used my iPads for photos, because… well, why would I? My iPhone was much better. But both of these have the same camera as iPhone 7 and they seem to wok better than the iPhone. Partly because I’m now a bit older and the huge screens give great feedback, which seems to outweigh the silliness of holding an iPad for a photo. Think of it as a 4 x 5 viewfinder camera with rightsize up feedback. I’ve only had them for a couple of days, we’ll see if I use the cameras more. NOTE: SketchBook has the ability to photograph an analog sketch into it’s gallery, it automatically drops out the background, so you can continue refining the sketch digitally. I may be using this feature even more now. And the coming iOS 11 will have a similar option in notes so you can mark up pdf’s, legal documents and photos there as well. (Yes, iOS 11 will be fabulous on new and old Pros.)

Also on the 10.5 is the keyboard. I’m not the worlds best typist by any means but the old pro and keyboard saw many crazy typos. The small increase in keyboard size seems to have cured my bad typing overnight. It works much better and that little size difference has made it easier to sit on your lap as well, though that’s not how I normally use it. So if you have the older, smaller iPad Pro, you may want to go test one out. Bonus they start with much larger storage options. So the large amount of money you spend can almost be be rationalised.

OK I bought one other thing. The leather pencil holder. DO NOT BUY IT. It’s a piece of utter ridiculous crap. Sure the packaging is great and it has a totally crazy rolled pencil made of paper sitting in it (I think that’s what cost 20 of the 30 bucks they charge.) Where was Sir Johnny Ive? Did he think this was practical or beautiful?  IT’S a TOTAL FAIL. Had they put a magnet on it to attach to a cover, it may have worked but it does nothing but hold a pencil. There are many better options. Do check out “Pen Pal, the clip for Apple Pencil” on Amazon. 15 bucks gets you three plastic clips that do not scratch your screen and easily attach to your case or pocket and also keeps Pencil from rolling off the table. Or if you use Pilot Pens their caps also fit Pencil Perfectly for transport.

That’s it for now. As I put the new Pro’s to more practical use I will report, or not. There are certainly plenty of reviews hitting now, most with great photos to accompany the words. If you have a specific question you feel I can answer, blurt it out. I’ll do my best to give it to you straight. Happy Art Making to you all”.

Image ©Susan Murtaugh

Contact Details for Susan Murtaugh

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