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Written by Rob Schultz (human).

How many iPads can I buy?

Hey, let's talk about iPads a little.  

I tried out the 12" Pro in January - drawing on it was fun and reading comics was great, but some of the regular uses of my previous device, the iPad Mini 2, (e.g. reading books) felt silly. It was big and expensive and I wasn't sure how to fit it into my life, so I took it back. Keeping it would have meant choosing between a) accepting that I now own two iPads, or b) having to sell my Mini, which doesn't have much resale value, and it's only selling point is that it does pretty much everything I want. 

I told myself that if only there were a 'regular' size iPad that supported Pencil, that would solve my dilemma. And now there is. And I've got one. And using the Pencil is fun. But in every other way, it doesn't feel any different, any better than my Mini. I mean, I know that officially the Pro is a better machine than this couple-years-old Mini, but in a week of use I haven't found a good way to prove it. 

I've been listening to Cortex episodes on the subject of multiple iPads, where the broad justification is 'it's not weird to own multiple Macs for different uses.' And I do own a couple of Macs, but unlike Myke or Grey or even MacSparky, I don't see myself transitioning away from them because my line of work is in video editing and animating. The tools I need aren't on the iPad, so my use cases are mostly consumptive, and keeping two around that I swap depending on whether the thing I'm reading has pictures feels extravagant at best. (Plus, if I were doing that, it should really be the full Pro and the Mini.)

This might be the foothold for a larger conversation about Apple, but I think what I'm really chasing after is the feeling of unwrapping something new and amazing. After one week with the new Pro, I wanted to feel like it's crazy that I even found the Mini usable before, like it'd be impossible to go back. Like moving from iPad 1 to 3 and saying "oh, that's what that's supposed to be!" Maybe we're at a hardware plateau, but I don't think I've had that little charge of excitement in a while.

The laptop I'm writing this on is circa 2013, (I just plain wouldn't consider an iPad for this. Seems like needless hardship.) as is my Mac Pro, and there are no replacements on the market that feel in any way tempting. Nor does either computer feel slow or lacking in a way that makes me want to seek out a replacement. Even on the iOS front, I think my iPhone 5 was the best phone I've owned, and I maybe would've been happier if I'd stuck it out until the 6SE rolled around.

The path of least resistance is to just keep this 9.7" Pro past the return window, and all week long I've been trying to figure out if it's worthwhile. That probably means that it's not. If it were my first iPad, it would be incredible. 

It's tough to keep demanding more magic.