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First Look: Apple iPad Pro
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NewsPoster
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Nov 12, 2015, 09:23 PM
 
Let us start by saying the availability of a first-party iPad Pro keyboard accessory does not mean that the Apple iPad Pro is a Microsoft Surface rip-off. Secondly, the availability of a stylus accessory for the iPad Pro, called the Apple Pencil, does not mean that the late Steve Jobs was wrong about styluses. There: now that I've gotten that off my chest, let's take a first look at what the iPad Pro really is all about ahead of our full review.


At 12.9 inches, the iPad Pro is the largest iPad Apple has ever made, by some margin. Its display area is comparable to the 13-inch MacBook Pro, while it packs in around 500,000 more pixels than Apple managed to cram into the 15-inch MacBook Pro's Retina display -- this means that the iPad Pro has 5.6 million pixels, for a pixel density of 264ppi, which is notably higher than the 220ppi resolution found on Apple's flagship notebook. Beyond the specs though, the iPad Pro display is just stunning to look at. As my daughter commented to me when she saw me watching a movie lying down in bed, "wow! It's like having a cinema screen in your hands!" At arm's length, it occupies more visual area than a 50-inch television does at normal viewing range.

If the original iPad ushered in a new range of desktop-class apps, thanks to the additional screen real estate it offered over the original iPhone, you can bet that app developers will be salivating at the possibilities offered by the iPad Pro. It's not just the additional screen real estate that is on offer here though; it's stupendous palette of app development opportunities will be facilitated by the amount of processing horsepower Apple has shoehorned into its ARM-based A9X processor. It is more powerful than the processing and graphics found in Apple's 12-inch Retina MacBook and similarly-powered x86-based Intel Core M notebooks on the market.

This is what warrants the "Pro" name being applied to this iPad. It is a truly Pro-class device that will have tremendous appeal to a number of professional users in many fields. Some early reviews have talked about its obvious potential for graphic designers, thanks to the introduction of the Apple Pencil stylus accessory. To be sure, the opportunities here are amazing. Already, Adobe and other developers, like those behind the Procreate app, have started to tap into this potential. What can be achieved by these professionals with the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil will level-up what they have already achieved on the superb iPad Air 2 platform.

However, it is not only graphic designers who will love the new iPad Pro; movie makers have already done amazing things on iPads, but again, the iPad Pro kicks it up a notch once again. You can take 4K video that you shoot on your iPhone 6s and edit up to three simultaneous 4K streams on the iPad Pro in iMovie. We've used iMovie on our Mac a lot, but the iPad Pro, with its additional screen real estate, makes this not only a fun proposition, but a powerful one as well. Film schools are going to love it, as will anyone else who wants to remain mobile, but highly creative and productive while on the go.

Photographers are going to love it, as well as musicians using GarageBand. We can also see it being a hit in educational contexts, including elementary schools, high schools and colleges. We know of lawyers carrying multiple iPads now, who have told us that they'll go with the one larger one in the future.

At the same time, the new size is clearly not for everyone, nor is it going to completely replace a notebook for all users. As powerful as Apple has made iOS 9, with features like extensibility, true multitasking, Split View, Slide Over and so on -- until Apple introduces at least a routinely user-accessible hierarchial file system (as it has begun to with the introduction of the iCloud app), the iPad Pro couldn't be described as a notebook killer.

At the same time, for many people, an iPad Pro may be all they ever need. Particularly when coupled with the Apple Smart Keyboard accessory. It may not beat a notebook for overall functionality, but it certainly beats the average notebook for outright entertainment. It's graphics performance is stunning, as is the prodigious sound produced by its four specially-designed speakers. Gaming on this thing is highly immersive as a result, as is watching movies and surfing websites. That future where you imagined reading a full-sized digital newspaper or magazine is fully realized on the iPad Pro, and it looks amazing.

We will look at the Apple Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil more closely at another time. Each warrants its own standalone review. However, as we have pointed out time and again, Apple was only ever likely to release its own first-party keyboard solution for a larger iPad -- one that was wide enough to support a full-sized keyboard experience. But like the Apple Pencil, these are truly optional accessories.

While there might be a good argument that Microsoft should be bundling its keyboard covers with its Surface tablet range -- especially given that Microsoft markets it as the "tablet that can replace your notebook" -- the same argument is not true for the iPad Pro. If you want to do word processing, or other Office-style productivity on your iPad, now you have a first-party keyboard option. There are already others on the market, including one from Logitech that Apple helped develop, that take advantage the new connector that supports both power and data transfer capabilities.

For the artistically-inclined, the Apple Pencil is of undeniable appeal -- but again, there is nothing about this accessory that makes it an automatic requirement for your iPad Pro. That said, it is unquestionably the most beautiful stylus ever made, with a look and feel that rivals some high-end writing instruments. We can see why Apple didn't opt to include a storage slot for this device -- it would imply that it is a necessary accessory, which is simply not true. You can still navigate, and even create amazing art on the iPad, with just your fingers. However, if you want the ultimate in precision and control from a stylus that is packed with exceptionally sophisticated, predictive, technology with nearly zero latency, the Apple Pencil and iPad Pro is a great choice.

Even if it may not be for you, the iPad Pro is a pretty amazing device with a lot to get enthused about. We're not ready to declare this the ultimate PC assassin, or a disappointing growth of the iPad line like other venues have after only a few days of use. Stay tuned for our full review of the iPad Pro, along with closer looks at the iPad Pro Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil.

-- Sanjiv Sathiah
( Last edited by NewsPoster; Nov 13, 2015 at 05:04 PM. )
     
iphonerulez
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Nov 13, 2015, 12:08 AM
 
I don't get it. Wall Street and most tech pundits have already called the iPad Pro a failure that won't help Apple at all. They claim it's not innovative enough because Steve Jobs didn't create it. I really don't know who to believe anymore. I can only say it's good for the people that think they can use it and bad for the people who don't think it will be useful for them. To me, the price seems OK. It's a nice device but my preference would be for a MacBook Pro if I could only choose one device. I don't believe Apple is going to sell a lot of these tablets but that's just my personal opinion. I'm not sure if it's better or worse than a Surface Pro 4 as I'm sure each have their own merits. I do know that if Wall Street is calling it a failure from the get-go, Apple's share price is definitely in jeopardy of dropping again. If Apple thinks there's a demand for these iPad Pro tablets then they should build them even if the tech pundits don't like them. If I were an artist, I'd probably want one.
     
Mike Wuerthele
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Nov 13, 2015, 12:11 AM
 
Calling it a failure from the get-go is moronic, but that's about the best one can say about Wall Street, I guess.

The Surface Pro 4 is a different device, really. While MS wants to go toe-to-toe with Apple in the tablet market, there's enough space for both.
     
azrich
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Nov 13, 2015, 10:24 AM
 
Did the tech know it alls tell us that the original iPad was useless when it came out? Haven't we learned to not listen to those who are entrenched/invested in the old ways and unable to see the future?

FWIW I picked up my Pro yesterday at the local Best Buy. It's smooth as silk, runs the Apps I need in full screen and some in that 2 for one split screen. It's both bigger and lighter than I anticipated. Somehow I didn't realize that 9.7 to 12.9 was a very big jump. I had an idea when the first iPad was announced that Apple should make one that had a screen size of a legal page. Well, this one is darn near it.

Calling anything a failure at this point is ridiculous. Anyone doing that is trying to predict the future and vying for attention like a normally quiet co-worker who gets tipsy at the office party.
     
pairof9s
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Nov 13, 2015, 04:09 PM
 
Just tried one out at the local Apple Store...man, that thing is huge! The remarks about the sharp screen are dead on, and at that size, watching movies does not sacrifice quality or impact. Didn't get to really hear the new speakers but what I did sounded impressive.

The pencil is great as well, especially in the Adobe apps. The receptive touch of the pen to screen is pretty good...I'd give it a 80%. At times it can lag, ever so slightly but enough to take it more slowly than desired. Would like to see expansion options as well...even 128GB can get filled fairly quickly w/ artists.

The keyboard is nice and light, easy to press...possibly too easy! I'm sure it takes getting used to but it was quite easy to mistype and even harder to correct. I also am disappointed in the lack of at least a Home key as well as app switch, on-screen keyboard switch, etc like you see on Logitech, Belkin or other 3rd party iPad keyboards.

While I like it, I'm quite satisfied w/ my MacBook Pro and iPad Air. Enough so that I can't see dishing out $800 or $1000 for one of these (regardless of trade-in value either). But when those wear down & out (and the iPad Pro is on its 2nd or 3rd iteration), then I'll probably get one.
     
Steve Wilkinson
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Nov 14, 2015, 02:22 AM
 
@ Mike - It seems Cook might be paying a bit too much attention to Microsoft these days. Those statements he made the other day were about the most stupid thing I might have ever heard out of Apple. Hopefully it was just Cook trying to be a salesman for the new product... otherwise, maybe we should start speculating about the final update for OS X.
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Inkling
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Nov 14, 2015, 07:55 AM
 
Keep in mine that this isn't the iPad Everyone. It's targeted at particular segment of the market, professional designers of all sorts. That's why it's the iPad Pro. For an idea how it's intended to be used, look at the various Creative Cloud apps for iOS that Adobe has been developing in recent years. Most work well enough on a regular iPad and some are useful on an iPhone. But their real home is the large screen and power graphics of the iPad Pro. Adobe, who works closely with Apple, knew it was coming.
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Steve Wilkinson
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Nov 14, 2015, 08:18 PM
 
@ Inkling - For sure, it's a very reasonable product for Apple to produce, and I'm sure will do well with certain market segments. My problem is more with Cook's statements to the effect of why buy a laptop anymore. The idea that the world is moving towards touch-screen mobile for everything outside of high-powered pros is kind of goofy, and part of Microsoft's problem with how tablets are viewed. And, it seems Apple is so enamored with mobile, that they are almost begging all the real pros to head over to Windows (or somewhere other than OS X). (Ironically, right at the time when they have the best shot at business and enterprise they've ever had.)
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