Some of us in IT Monkey are Apple lovers and some are not but we were keen to see what this new piece of Apple technology had to offer. Our main use for an iPad Pro is taking it to client meetings to knock up website ideas and take notes. The fact that it also has an optional stylus (or Pencil as Apple calls it) makes it great for this purpose. We’ve tried using a stylus on many different tablets before with varying degrees of success but none came close to replacing old-school pen and paper. There was some talk of going for a Microsoft Surface Pro instead but I stood firm and was keen to see if this device could replace a Macbook Air when I’m out and about. Considering the price (€939 for the base 32GB model) it will need to.
First thing I noticed is that it’s HUGE! I’m used to an iPad Mini after having a couple of them knocking about the office and home over the last few years this is a huge step up size-wise. It is surprisingly light though, weighing in at 713g, but is not something you’ll be holding in one hand for any prolonged period.
We looked at the optional keyboard but decided against it; in past experience we’ve found that adding a keyboard to a tablet leaves you with a laptop that isn’t as good as most laptops and a tablet that isn’t used to it’s full potential. Unless you do a huge amount of writing you will not get the most out of this machine if you use a physical keyboard. The onscreen keyboard is actually pretty good and Apple have finally seen fit to add a numerical keyboard on top, if only they’d do that on some of their other devices…
This machine is seriously fast compared to previous iPad models thanks to the new 64-bit A9X chip. I won’t bore you with details about benchmarks but you will not find any lag whatsoever, this machine is quick.
This brings me to one of the limitations of the iPad Pro, and it may be a deal-breaker for some. With all the power and screen real-estate on offer, you still can’t run full versions of Photoshop, Illustrator, Auto-cad and many other applications used by the type of people this device is aimed at. There are scaled-down versions but in this day and age you would expect to run a full version of Photoshop on a device in this price range. I would hope that Apple will deal with this in due course.
On to more positive things – The Pencil. All the marketing clout and budget in the world and that’s the best they could do. At least stick an ‘i’ in front of it and make it look like you made an effort! Made specifically for the iPad Pro, Apple Pencil is simply amazing, it blows any other stylus we’ve used out of the water. Microsoft impressed with their Surface Pen but it doesn’t compare favourably to this at all. It’s the closest thing we’ve seen to writing on paper – accurate, fast, pressure-sensitive – and you never feel that you are trying too hard like you do with other digital pens. Artists, designers and anyone that draws will love it. I do feel that it should have been included in the package though, €109 is a lot on top of the price of the iPad Pro.
There’s also the screen – 12.9″ (2,732×2,048-pixel resolution) – is a thing of beauty. Retina display has not stood out for me before on previous iPads but the larger screen makes any media consumption a great experience. Everything stands out- deep blacks, vibrant colours – it is without doubt the sharpest screen we’ve come across on any tablet. Sound has also stepped up from it’s smaller siblings – iPad Pro speakers are noticeably louder than the two-speaker stereo sound on an iPad Air 2.
In summary, limitations aside this is a great piece of technology. It does come at a high price though and justifying that price won’t be easy.
Pros – Screen | Apple Pencil | Battery Life| Sound
Cons – Cost of Peripherals | Limited Uses | Lack of Essential Applications