13/6/2017 | Category: Technology

iPad Pro Reviews: Apple’s Vision Of The Future

Apple launched a number of new iPad Pro devices at last week’s Worldwide Developer Conference. Tim Cook and his team are pushing the Pad Pro range hard to be a portable computer that can replace the traditional laptop for professional. How successful is the latest iteration of the iOS tablet? The first reviews of the new iPad Pro hardware are in and we can start to answer that question.

One key feature of the 2017 iPad Pro machines is that these machines are not complete. They feel designed for iOS 11, which is not going to be available to the public until September (although earlier beta versions will be widely available). That means the iPad Pro is “a hot rod sitting at the starting line, gunning its engines, waiting for permission to hit the gas” according to Dieter Bohn at The Verge. He also goes straight for the biggest feature to consider… the price compared to a regular iPad:

“Apple has definitively made clear what the differences are between a regular iPad and an iPad Pro. Those differences include a murderer’s row of specs that don’t seem very necessary for what most people do with iPads. Here is what makes an iPad Pro, Pro: a bigger, better screen; a faster, more powerful processor; better cameras; support for the Apple Pencil; a keyboard connection port; and more speakers.

There’s one more difference, though, and it’s the biggest and most important one: the price. The iPad Pro starts at $649 for a 64GB model, and it can be priced all the way up to $1079.00 for 512GB of storage and LTE. Oh, and the Apple Pencil is $99 and Apple’s Smart Keyboard is $159, though there are cheaper third-party keyboards available.”

Apple may have a vision of the iPad Pro as your only computer, but it’s a costly endeavour to get there. Once you add in the major components you are very close to the cost of a good ultrabook. Can you afford to be on the Pro’s cutting edge? No review can clear up that decision for you.

Prices for the new iPad Pro models are shown on stage during Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference in San Jose, California (Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

The big benefit of a tablet is the screen – if you have to use a poor screen you might as well not bother. That’s not the case with the iPad Pro, as David Pierce makes clear on Wired. The screen has been improved, and even though the smaller bezels are still present, the expansive screen is a winner.

Apple laid lots of spec upgrades on the new Pro, some important but invisible (the crazy fast chip now runs even faster) and others subtle but striking. Take the screen: The iPad already featured a crisp, bright, non-reflective panel everyone found easy to read in the dark. Apple made it better. Allow me to nerd out on screen refresh rates, because they matter more than you think.

The iPad Pro’s display now runs at 120Hz, meaning it refreshes the image 120 times a second. The higher the number, the smoother everything looks. And in this case, everything looks smoother than butter. Swiping homescreens, playing games, or just scrolling through WIRED feels like you’re actually touching the things you see, not just whacking pixels on a screen.

The changes to the screen also encompass the touch-screen layer, which has a positive impact on the Apple Pencil. Cupertino’s stylus is now more accuracte and smoother to use, as Steve Kovach explains on Business Insider. It’s still awkward to charge though:

There’s also an improved screen that refreshes animations faster, so scrolling through content on the web or apps is smoother. (Apple calls this feature ProMotion.) It also helps when drawing or jotting down notes with the optional $99 Apple Pencil accessory, reducing the lag between writing on the screen and when you see the markings actually appear. It’s not quite the same feeling as drawing on paper, but I found that it’s comfortable enough. (By the way, most people won’t need the Apple Pencil. Only get it if you plan on using digital art apps or scribbling notes the old-fashioned way instead of typing.)

The other peripheral of note for the iPad Pro is the Smart Keyboard cover. If you are going to regard the Pro as a ‘full personal computer’ then a keyboard is regarded as essential. Jim Dalrymple at The Loop looks at Apple’s own peripheral.

I’ve always had a Smart Keyboard with my iPad because portability is so important for a device like this. I like having a built-in keyboard that is also a cover. It’s convenient and easy to use in most situations.

I do have a complaint about the size of the keys on the Smart Keyboard though. I’m a huge fan of Apple’s new MacBook and MacBook Pro keyboards and their larger sized keys. There seems to be lots of room on this keyboard to have larger keys, but they haven’t done it yet.

Apple CEO Tim Cook exits delivers a keynote address during the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference in San Jose, California (Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

By bringing the power of the largest iPad Pro into the ’standard’ size last year, Apple opened up the iPad Pro line to a larger audience. That has continued this year with the new specs available in both iPad Pro sizes. If you are going to be needing processing power, then the Pro line looks very attractive. Nicole Nguyen writes on Buzzfeed:

This iPad Pro is a beast. It has Apple’s latest chip — the A10x Fusion — which boasts 30% faster CPU speed and 40% faster graphics, compared with last year’s devices.

Everything feels really smooth and fast, from zipping in and out of apps to playing graphics-intensive games like Samorost 3. I used the iPad as a primary computer for two days, and it handled running Slack and Google Docs side by side, with constant switching between all the other apps I need — Twitter, Notability, Safari, Gmail, Calendar, and LastPass — very smoothly.

Taking pictures with the iPad Pro is not the easiest or most ergonomic solution, but having a camera on the iPad Pro does offer some business-like features that could prove useful. David Phelan looks at the options available:

It means you’re holding a 12-megapixel snapper with a True Tone flash that has four LEDs, with optical image stabilisation to reduce judder as you shoot. It’s also capable of shooting Live Photos, the cute photo-and-video combo that brings stills to life, like a Harry Potter newspaper. Live Photos are also set to be upgraded in iOS 11, by the way.

And the camera, combined with the processing power, will mean scanning documents is possible on the iPad Pro when iOS 11 is released. I’ve seen this in action and it’s impressive: position the camera above your document and the software will adjust for any perspective to turn it into a perfectly rectangular image, reducing shadow effects in the process. And then it becomes an onscreen document you can annotate with the Apple Pencil.

Greg Joswiak, Vice President of iPod, iPhone, and iOS Product Marketing for Apple speaks on stage at San Jose McEnery Convention Center during Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

Andrew Cunningham sums up the general feeling about the iPad Pro. It’s the best tablet that Apple has made, but with tablet sales falling can Apple push the iPad Pro line towards a larger audience? Consumers who are  looking for a light laptop need to consider the iPad Pro and the benefits of tablet computing for this approach to succeed.

Knowing what we do about iOS 11, any review of an iPad Pro running iOS 10 is going to feel unfinished. iOS 10 neither taxes nor takes full advantage of this hardware. The iOS 9-era multitasking features (nearly untouched in iOS 10) feel clunky and anachronistic two years in, especially with foreknowledge of the altogether more natural and macOS-esque improvements that are coming in a few short months

…The new hardware won’t change your mind if you already think iPads have no business being “Pro,” but in the fall when iOS 11 comes out these tablets are going to be more computer-y than they have been at any point in their seven-year history. There are still things that you really just can’t do with them, software development chief among them, but for writers or artists or even video editors the combination of hardware and software is increasingly convincing.

2017’s iPad Pro machines (both the 12.7 inch and 10.5 inch versions) are clear improvements over the existing Pro machines, and provide an upgrade party for regular iPad users. Whether it can expand the audience to bring in new users to the iOS tablet ecosystem remains to be send – and likely won’t be seen until iOS 11 reaches the mainstream in Q4 this year.