Considerations in setting up an iPad Pro workstation

For those of you using iPads, especially iPad Pros, what’s your set-up? I’m going to describe my current desk and lap set-ups and follow that with a few keyboard case and stand options I’m considering.

Currently I use the 2018 12.9” in a Smart Keyboard Portfolio when I’m away from my desk. If I’m at the desk I add a Magic Trackpad 2 and plug into a raised external monitor at eye level. The larger display gives my eyes a rest and overall just provides a nice change from the casual slouching I often do when away from the desk. It’s a simple set-up but it works well.

Overall I’m happy with the Smart Keyboard Portfolio as it is fairly stable when used away from the desk, it’s super light and thin and keeps the iPad close to the keys which means very easy swiping and tapping without the feeling that I’m reaching up and away too much. It’s a compact set-up. While it only offers two angles those two angles work very well for me. Also, the keyboard folds behind the iPad if I want to use the iPad as a tablet. When I want to remove it it’s easy to remove.

But the downsides, no backlighting and no function keys, have me considering other options. Also, it’s my second unit and it’s starting to fall apart just as the first one did. It’s wrinkling and the material over the hinge is falling off, so that’s a big drawback.

Keyboard case options

I’ve mostly ruled out Apple’s Magic Keyboard for iPad due to the cost, use of same material that (in my experience) will start to fall apart after a year, weight, and lack of function keys.

Brydge Max+, new keyboard from Brydge that solves my primary complaint about previous designs: the hinge. With the new design the iPad is magnetically attached to a flat back which removes the two hinge stress points and makes it much easier to attach or detach the iPad. Has the new improved trackpad which by all accounts is almost equal to Apple’s implementation thanks to firmware changes. Has backlighting and function row.

Drawbacks: Weight and due to the design it pushes the iPad glass further back from the hands. It’s not much but it’s enough that reaching for the glass for interactions becomes a bit more tiresome. It feels like a commitment to laptop form factor and the trackpad interaction model. Also, it’s Bluetooth though frankly, I don’t see that as a big problem, just not ideal.

Currently thinking this is my top choice for a keyboard case.

Logitech Combo Touch, the new offering (only compatible with the 2021 iPad Pro at the 12.9” size) that also has a trackpad, backlighting, function keys and a smart connector. This has the added benefit/drawback of a protective case. A safer iPad, more bulk. A great feature: keyboard is detachable or can be folded back behind the case for handheld use.

The biggest drawback here is that it looks like use in the lap becomes really cumbersome with the case design relying on a fold-down kickstand giving it a really deep (front to back) footprint.

Stand options

At the moment I don’t actually need a stand because when I’m at the desk and plugged into the external display I just keep my eyes up on the display. However, if Apple releases proper 2nd display support that goes beyond simple mirroring this would change and I would plan on using a stand with the iPad elevated. The Kensington dock is nice but way too expensive for my budget. I’ll either keep using my current stand or, more likely, look for something with easier adjustability and greater height and possible forward adjustment.

This magnetic stand from Lululook is very promising in terms of easy attachment, easy rotation from portrait to landscape and easy angle adjustment. It may not have the vertical height I’d want. Another possibility is the new twelvesouth HoverBar Duo which lacks the magnetic attachment but has much better height adjustment and forward adjustment as well.

I bought the Magic Keyboard and the Apple Pencil for my 11" iPad Pro (2020). I want to wait for Final Cut Pro X and Logic Pro X before going any further and buying tons of professional accessories.

I used an Elevation Labs Draft Table for a long time. It’s heavy, sturdy, and well built, but the plastic legs do a feel a bit cheap considering the price ($50). If someone wants a stand to use while sitting at a desk with and external keyboard or Pencil, I would highly recommend it.

I bought a Magic Keyboard and my iPad basically lives in that now. On work from home days my iPad sits there on the corner of the desk for my goofing off time. It makes it feel like a laptop and I have been very happy with it. Still, it really needs to come down in price.

I have a HoverBar Duo coming for times I am reading and don’t need to input things. I hope it fits that role well. The thing is stuck in the Port of LA and I won’t have it for another 3 weeks though.

I rarely use a keyboard with my 11’ iPad Pro. I keep it in a MoKo magnetic smart folio cover and normally type on the screen. I tend to work with it in my lap braced against a crossed leg when I edit photos & video. And on whatever table is convenient when I need to type, or need a change from “casual slouching” :grinning:

When I have a lot to do I use a Heckler Design iPad Desk Stand along with an Apple Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad. The stand is made of steel and doesn’t wobble when I touch the screen. And it’s heavy enough to use as a weapon in case of zombie attack.

It doesn’t quite bring the iPad to eye level and if I’m going to use it for more than 30 minutes or so, I occasionally set it on a book that I keep handy for just that purpose. When I travel I only take the iPad, a charger, a couple of cables, and an external drive.

Unfortunately it’s sold out pretty much everywhere.

My set-up:

  • 11" iPad Pro (yep, it fixed itself; go figure…).
  • A stand inspired by the Hoverbar Duo that’s almost half the price but really solidly built. I’m assuming the Hoverbar Duo’s better in some way, and if so I’d recommend it. The stand I’ve got has done wonders for my seated posture, and I appreciate the range of angles and heights I can adjust it for.
  • Fell into a split keyboard rabbit-hole towards the end of last year and emerged with a Corne. Mine was built by EBV (Corne Keyboard made by EBV | Etsy). Pre-COVID when the real world was a place I’d visit regularly, I had a flat, folding Bluetooth keyboard for travel. I love the Corne’s layout and how easy it is to customise. Silent key switches so my nearest and dearest don’t murder me.
  • No mouse/trackpad. I actually don’t mind reaching for the screen when I need to.
  • Away from my desk, I’m one of those strange people who’s happy enough to type on screen if I need to, whether that’s full screen on the Pro or thumb typing on the iPad Mini. I have the Pro in an origami case that lends itself to a few different orientations. If I travel with a need to get serious writing done, the Corne’s small enough to pack. I think the Mini and the Corne should make a perfect coffee-shop focused writing combo, when I finally hit the road again…
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Wow… as someone who hasn’t been down that rabbit-hole at all, that looks super weird… and yet… strangely compelling at the same time.

Must…back…away…now…before…

(I already got sucked into the fountain pen world, but that wasn’t really my fault. Someone gave me my first one as a gift, and then the rest of them just started showing up.)

((That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.))

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I recently bought a few stands from Moft and am super pleased. This is one of them and it’s works well. Buy the Best Sit and Stand Desk Online – MOFT
They have some iPad ones too