Review: The iPad Pro, is bigger always better?

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The biggest debate since the Pro’s release is whether the iPad pro will replace the laptop and what is the functionality of an oversized tablet. We have been road testing Apple’s latest product in the ITVET offices to see if we have any answers.

Size – How big is too big?
Our first reviewer, ITVET Director, Richard Fountain, did have some initial misgivings about whether the size of the new tablet will affect the durability: “The first thing that hits you when you open the box is how big the iPad Pro is. In the hand it feels awkward due to the size, plus the thinness makes it feel like it is fragile and easy to drop. So a robust case might be required depending on the intended use. Don’t get me wrong it is very thin which keeps the weight down, but from a handling perspective it makes it difficult to grip in some respect.” The size seems to be the most commented upon feature in the first reviews. Although it may be uncomfortable to hold, the size of the screen is perfect for sharing. Whether sharing a trailer with friends for an upcoming movie or a sales presentation to your client, the high quality and scale of the screen allows for crystal clear viewing. As our director discovered, this latest edition to the iPad family is a perfect companion when working out of the office as it fits perfectly in an A4 portfolio case that was used before ITVET became paperless. “It was a perfect size for making presentations being fractionally smaller than an A4 piece of paper. Also making it a perfect replacement for A4 notepads for those paper bound diehards”.
So perhaps the question how big is too big, really depends on what you are looking to use the iPad for…

Purpose – Business or pleasure?

Business
So the question everyone is asking – can the iPad Pro ever replace a laptop? While it may seem heavier and bulkier than all previous tablet versions, it is much less heavy than carrying a laptop. If your work takes you out of the office regularly it would be ideal to have a slick device that is ‘nearly, but not quite a laptop’ – although I’m not totally convinced how a bigger screen makes this any more of a laptop rival than the previous iPad versions. As Richard found whilst visiting a client, “the Pro was perfect for my presentation but that is only one use and one would not think this a big enough market to make it a success for Apple.” While the Pro is great for on the move it is not ideal for large word processing – trying to type large amounts of text is quite a task. Apple has developed a smart keyboard that would counteract this problem but equally this racks up the price on an already expensive device. The price of the iPad plus the smart keyboard is not that different to the price of a laptop.

pro pencil

Testing the Apple Pencil

With palm touch rejection and the introduction of the Apple Pencil, many of the new features seem to be design orientated. I did find drawing on the Pro a very enjoyable experience especially with the Apple Pencil. The pencil is very intuitive giving the affect and feeling of drawing on paper. Plus, from the perspective of a left-hander, I found the palm rejection great. Although there is nothing that can replicate the joy of drawing on paper, for practicality the iPad Pro probably wins. The Apple Pencil recognises different pressures so instinctively that sketching and shading feels and looks no different to anything in my sketchbooks. The size does make it uncomfortable and awkward to hold with one hand which would be an inconvenience if drawing on location. However, being able to instantly upload creations to social media or email is beyond useful and I imagine, in a business sense, how valuable it would be have the ability to share ideas so easily.

According to a lot of reviewers the surface Pro has already had many of these features, but as it seems to be the case with Apple, they have arrived late to the party but wearing a very slick outfit that has grabbed everyone’s attention. As it has been with their first smartwatch and adopting force touch in the latest iPhone, Apple grabs technology that already exists, brings it to a mass audience and gets everyone talking about how this is the beginning of the future. It is only since the Pro’s introduction that the laptop’s status is considered threatened – but even with further development could the iPad really ever cause the laptop’s demise?

Entertainment
For entertainment or home use the Pro’s hefty price tag may not be justifiable. Admittedly, the excellent quality of the speakers and screen image do make for great Netflix viewing. However, the size and weight makes it uncomfortable to sit or relax with, plus the screen feels too big and bright to sit that close to. I did find it effective to watch catch up tv whilst cooking – the speakers were loud enough to fill a room and the screen big enough to see from the other side of the kitchen.

So is bigger better? Sometimes – it really depends on how you use your tablet and what you are looking for. Personally, I found the features and the overall quality perfect and it was the first time I ever realised how inferior my old school iPad 2 really is. For me though, I may consider upgrading but the Pro is slightly too big for what I would use it for.

Features

Dual Screen:
Because of the extreme size, split screens are where the Pro really takes off. The side bar is great for taking notes or quickly checking a second app. Dual screen allows two apps to be used at once, which is great for referencing websites while using the word processing or sketching apps, especially as each screen is about the size of a standard iPad Air.

Keyboard:
Again, thanks to the size of the screen a full sized QWERTY keyboard is available on screen. This is particularly useful when typing email addresses where in the past I have had to switch between the letters, numbers, and symbols options multiple times. However, for word processing I think it would be tiresome to type long documents on a touch screen, even with the additional keys. This may be why Apple released the smart keyboard to run alongside the iPad, as otherwise it would never be a contender to replace the laptop.

dual screen

Dual screen feature

Battery life:
The battery life lasted well – although charging takes some time, even when on aeroplane mode. With regards to the Apple Pencil, it did seem strange needing to charge a pencil – although the battery life seems to be very good. It also felt peculiar that it has to be plugged into the charging socket on the iPad itself although the pencil does come with an adaptor so that a standard lightening cable can be used instead. With the pencil jutting out of the end of the iPad this doesn’t seem the safest method of charging but destruction test videos have proven that it is harder to break than it looks. Even, so it just appears awkward and you would have thought that with Apple’s design capabilities, they would have thought of a more inventive way.

Conclusions:
Overall, I would say that practicality is key with the iPad Pro – in some ways it would be the Clarkes’ shoes of the fashion world. While David Attenborough documentaries do look quite spectacular on the Pro, the hefty price tag may be slightly too big to swallow for just Netflix, Facebook and Candy crush. The bigger scale allows for the Pro to be more functional for word processing or creating artwork – but it is less chic or slick as some of the smaller models. It may not be cute but it is much lighter than lugging around a laptop all day, if that is something that you do. In some ways I believe that the Pro is all about sharing – the ease of producing notes or sketches combined with the ability to send ideas back and forth would make discussion (particularly design based) faster and easier. I would say for the ability to present documents, designs and proposals, bigger may be better. Or possibly, bigger means more to share.


 

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