Tuesday, December 1, 2015

iPad Pro Great Review " Screen is Ours"

The iPad Pro is a whole new device for Apple. It's not just a larger iPad, nor is it a rival to the Surface Pro 4. It's a new range for Apple, but just bears a lot of similarities to what's come before.

The price is a little higher, but for that money you're getting a lot more for your cash: a larger 12.9-inch screen, loads more pixels and an accessory range to really change the way you can actually use the tablet.
First time picked up the iPad Pro at an Apple event this past September, I couldn’t help but laugh a little bit. For one, its size: it is holy-crap-look-at-this-iPad big. And with a price tag that easily jumps up to around a thousand dollars, it’s the most expensive iPad ever.

  

Taking the iPad Pro out and turning it on for the first time, it really does feel familiar. People used to say the original iPad was just a big iPhone or iPad Touch, and the iPad Pro looks exactly like a bigger iPad Air 2. Aside from the two extra speakers on the top, the design is pretty much the same.


It's lighter than you'd expect too, though my arm started to ache after a few minutes of using it in one hand.But it's when you start using it that the difference becomes apparent. Even more so when you pair it with the – sold separately at £79 – Apple Pencil. The 12.9-inch Retina Display is ridiculously bright, sharp and it makes reading and watching videos an absolute pleasure.


The Pencil is what moves the Pro into a completely different category than the other iPads. At first I was skeptical – I mean, Apple releasing something simply called the Pencil after being so staunchly against stylus type devices in the past is odd – but after a few minutes of use I was already hooked. Doodling away in the Notes app, shading as you would do with a regular pencil and accurately taking down notes.


There’s also the fact that Apple has once again hung back and watched others launch a new product category before bursting in and laying claim to it. The company had done this with MP3 players, phablet phones, smartwatches. Now, it was unveiling a high-powered tablet computer with a stylus and accessory keyboard.

But after a few days of using the iPad Pro, I started to look at iPad differently. The large tablet pretty much demanded it. I’ve always been a bit of an iPad skeptic, never understanding how people can use them all the time for productivity, even with a Bluetooth accessory keyboard attached. By day three with the iPad Pro, I had started to wonder.

Could this replace my MacBook?
It’s the question everyone is asking. And while Apple says it didn’t make iPad Pro with the intent to replace a laptop, even Apple CEO Tim Cook suggested in a recent interview that this could be the case — because what else could this massive iPad be for? It’s the same question Microsoft has been trying to answer with the Surface since 2012, with mixed results.
  
But it's when you start using it that the difference becomes apparent. Even more so when you pair it with the – sold separately at £79 – Apple Pencil. The 12.9-inch Retina Display is ridiculously bright, sharp and it makes reading and watching videos an absolute pleasure.
The Pencil is what moves the Pro into a completely different category than the other iPads. At first I was skeptical – I mean, Apple releasing something simply called the Pencil after being so staunchly against stylus type devices in the past is odd – but after a few minutes of use I was already hooked. Doodling away in the Notes app, shading as you would do with a regular pencil and accurately taking down notes.

Importantly, the palm rejection software built into IOS  is amongst the best I've used and there's almost zero noticeable lag between between writing and the text appearing. You can rest you hand on the display and copy out notes without any issues and I can only imagine more feature rich apps – Paper by 53, for example – will make the Pencil even more of a compelling, yet pricey, accessory.


Alongside the Pencil, Apple's also selling a Surface-like keyboard accessory that doubles as a Smart Case. I've not had a chance to test this, but I have been using Logitech's Create keyboard cover. The iPad Pro easily slots in and thanks to the new Smart Connector on the device, it pairs up without fafffing around with Bluetooth settings and connections. The keys are nice and clicky, with plenty of travel, and there's a complete number row and a really handy shortcut row – something Apple's version lacks.

To be the real laptop replacement Tim Cook wants it to be, the iPad Pro needs to offer a great writing experience and first impressions are good.
Either way you look at it, the iPad Pro is meant to change how we think about computers (or at least turn around the iPad’s flagging sales) — which is, actually, no laughing matter.


Let’s just get this out of the way: Apple wants to sell more iPads. This is the visible seam in the story Apple has stitched together about the iPad over the past five years. The iPad Pro is being marketed as a tablet for users of heavy apps and creative types, and it is a very obvious product differentiation strategy. But some people are just going to want to buy the biggest iPad they can get, and this is a very big, very nice iPad.

It’s also an expensive iPad. The iPad Pro starts at $799 for a Wi-Fi-only model with 32GB of storage, creeps up to $949 for the Wi-Fi-only 128GB model, and tops off at $1,079 for a 128GB model with both Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity. And that’s before accessories. Pricey for an iPad? Uh, yeah. Expensive for a PC even? Yes, if you’re talking about the low- to mid-range PCs that clutter shelves during back-to-school season. It’s basically right in line with something like the Surface Pro 4 ($899) and the MacBook Air ($999).

DESIGN AND SCREEN

OK, after we've just said this is an all new product line there's definitely a feeling that the iPad Pro is part of a family. It's a tablet that's got the same metal curved back as the iPad Air 2 and mini range, and as such feels really nice in an almost ceramic way.
The Pro is a weighty device though - it's nothing that's going to break your back, but it's not going to be something that you'll be able to carry in one hand for a very long time. That said, it feels well-balanced in two hands, and given that we spent most of the time with this locked into the Smart Keyboard the level of precision that's gone into the design means it doesn't fall over easily.
The iPad Pro is a much bigger device than the average tablet – with a 12.9-inch display, it's always going to be a bit hefty


The design language follows on strongly from the rest of the iPad family, with the same ceramic-like metal on the back, the curved edges and TouchID home button above the Lightning port.

However, the bezels are narrowed around the screen, in part to help the aesthetics but also to make sure this tablet doesn't get too gargantuan. The other nice additions are the four speakers in the corners of the device, each machined out like the mono speaker on the iPhone range, but much more powerful.

Display

In terms of weight, the 713g mass of the Pro isn't easy to hold in one hand. If you're thinking of using this for news, comics or magazines (and you should) you'll definitely not be able to hold it like a paperback for long.

That's not to say it's overly weighty, as the iPad Pro is well balanced; you'll just need to hold it in two hands. The battery, screen and components can't be magically made lighter, and given that you're buying this because you want a larger iPad, the extra weight should be a trade-off worth making.

Apple's fingerprints are all over this device, with the same power button and volume combo in the upper right-hand corner, produced to feel nicely solid.

The smart thing Apple has done here is add in a 2732x2048 Resolution to the mix - this means you're sticking with the same 4:3 screen ratio of previous iPads (great for browsing the web as it's more expansive, but means black bars above and below movies) but when used in landscape mode has the same pixels vertically as the iPad Air held in portrait mode.

Why is this important? Well, when you're using it in Split Screen mode (running two apps side by side) they'll have the same resolution as an iPad Air, meaning two full, sharp apps in one place, and means less coding for developers.

Features

The main features of the iPad Pro are, bizarrely, not actually in the device itself. You can talk about the insanely powerful A9X chip inside, but in reality the talking points are the Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard.

The former is really rather good - whether it's taking notes, sketching rude pictures or using it to accurately Photoshop images, you can do an awful lot here. It's well balanced as well, and although you need to plug it into the Lightning port to charge, it's a great accessory. Sadly it's only optional (£79) and there's no clip, so you'll be constantly making sure you've not lost it.

PERFORMANCE AND SPECS

In terms of the engine Apple's stuck inside the iPad Pro, the company has gone all out here. The Pro features an A9X chip inside, coupled with 4GB of RAM (according to Geekbench, although Apple hasn't confirmed this).
This makes the iPad Pro easily the most powerful non-Mac device Apple's ever made by some distance. What that means in real life is two fold: you can execute multiple apps at once without a hint of slowdown, with heavy titles like Adobe Photoshop working in an instant and the ability to do many things at once a really slick experience.


 The Split Screen mode of iOS 9, introduced in June at WWDC 2015, seemed like an odd thing - the 9.7-inch size of the iPad Air sort of made sense with two apps running at the same time, but now we've got this whopping screen to play with it makes a lot more sense.

If we're talking raw numbers, and I know that's why some of you cheeky people are here, then you're in for a treat. Using Geekbench 3 to test, the iPad Pro scores 5472, which is well ahead of the 4506 from the iPad Air 2 and the 4974 of the next-most powerful device, the Galaxy Note 5.

How easy is it to use the iPad Pro?

Using the iPad Pro for flicking about iOS is as easy an experience as you'd expect - although the icons on the home screen are just larger, not more packed in. It would have been nice to see the option to have more in there, but it seems the overlay is just a scaled up version of the 'normal' tablet experience in some ways.
Swiping across the screen therefore seems to need more distance travelled - where on the iPhone you'll need nary a flicker from your digit to get into the phone, here you seem to have trace out a few centimetres across the glass.

iPad Pro specs: Storage


The iPad Pro has a slightly unusual set of storage flavours. Whereas most recent iOS devices have offered three configurations (16GB, 64GB and 128GB, with the 32GB inbetweener much mourned), the Wi-Fi-only version of the Pro comes with just two: 32GB or 128GB. And if you want the cellular model then you've only got one option: the full monty 128GB.
Nice to see the 32GB make a comeback, but it's a strangely restrictive offering. 

CAMERA AND DISPLAY


Firstly, the weight means you're going to possibly drop it when taking photos unless you hold it in two hands to comfortably reach across and hit the shutter with your thumb. And then you've got the massive viewfinder with the sensor in the corner, meaning it's hard to get the angles right.

In short, don't use it for photos unless you have to. Yes, you can take panoramas, use a square filter or capture video, but that doesn't mean you should.

iPad Pro specs


The camera on the iPad Pro is an 8MP iSight sensor, with 1.2MP on the front for Facetime and selfies. Regular readers will know I'm heavily against using tablets for taking general snaps, and the iPad Pro is definitely designed for that.


The iPad Pro comes with an 8Mp (megapixel) rear-facing iSight camera.Specs-wise it's identical to the rear camera on the iPad Air 2, which means:

§  8Mp iSight camera
§  Autofocus
§  ƒ/2.4 aperture
§  Five-element lens
§  Hybrid IR filter
§  Backside illumination
§  Improved face detection
§  Exposure control
§  Panorama (up to 43Mp)
§  Burst mode
§  Tap to focus
§  Photo geotagging
§  Timer mode 
Video recording specs are also the same as for the Air 2.
§  1080p HD video recording (30 fps)
§  Slo-mo (120 fps)
§  Time-lapse video
§  Video image stabilisation
§  Improved face detection
§  3x video zoom
§  Video geotagging
Finally, specs for the front-facing camera are the same too.
§  1.2Mp photos
§  ƒ/2.2 aperture
§  720p HD video recording
§  Backside illumination
§  Auto HDR photos and videos
§  Improved face detection
§  Burst mode
§  Exposure control
§  Timer mode
To those who are disappointed not to see advances here to match the processor, RAM and screen, we can only say: use the iPad Pro as a camera in public and then talk to us.

iPad Pro specs: Battery life


Apple claims the iPad Pro will last for 10 hours (of video play or web use) between charges; that's pretty much standard for Apple tablets, and exactly the same as is promised for the iPad Air 2. The company is generally scrupulously honest when stating battery life for its devices - if anything they tend to be an underestimate - but we'll naturally put this to the test once we've got a review sample to test in the Macworld labs.

This performance is based on a 38.5-watt-hour rechargeable lithium-polymer battery, a far larger unit that the 27.3-watt-hour battery in the Air 2.
Apple says, by the way, that the iPad Pro saves power by automatically adjusting the screen refresh rate depending on the amount of movement on screen - something that no other iOS device is able to do.

CONCLUTION

Overall, this is a really remarkable piece of kit. It’s big – oh boy, is it big? – but it feels much less weighty than you’d imagine. And the payback in terms of the gorgeousness and grandeur of the screen is hard to overstate. Portability is still better addressed by the iPad Air 2 and the smaller-screened mini options, of course.

But this iPad is a workhorse. Add in the keyboard and you have a reasonable laptop substitute unless you need those programs only a fully-fledged computer offers. Or you need greater multi-tasking than this offers. Still, the power of the iPad Pro is considerable and could give many a laptop a run for its money.
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