22 2015 Nov

iPad Pro review (Page 26) ipad air (Evaluation: 4.5/5)

We disliked (Suite)
Then again, I feel like I’ve written that phrase a thousand times when reviewing stuff: shocker, the more you use something, the more that battery dies.

And then there’s the issue of price: $799 / £679 / AU$1249 is a decent starting price, and even $1079 / £899 / AU$1699 for the 128GB Wi-Fi and Cellular version isn’t terrible. But you need to buy the accessories to get the best out of the iPad Pro, and given this won’t be a dedicated laptop replacement for some, it’s a little higher in cost.

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Verdict

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The iPad Pro isn’t a laptop replacement in the way power users will hope. But it is, by some distance, one of the most brilliant tablets I’ve ever used.

However, the key thing here is how happy you are with the extra heft. It’s identical to reviewing a Samsung Galaxy Note: it’s a brilliant device, packed to the hilt with power, specs and extra accessories to augment the phone experience.

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But it’s expensive. And more cumbersome. It’s something you have to actively want, rather than picking up and deciding instantly is the best thing ever.

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If you’re the kind of person that wants a device that can seamlessly switch from typing to sketching to playing loads of great games to enjoying the best possible experience on a tablet, then this is just perfect for you. If you need to do more powerful things, like uploading photos while manipulating reams of text and having to refer to other information with a flick of the wrist, you’ll struggle a little with the new iPad.

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The score attached above is subjective. I rate the iPad Pro above the five star iPad Air 2, but then again I really get a kick out of the extra accessories and screen size on offer – it fits what I’m after. Others might see the extra size an irritation, the power redundant, the extra cost unnecessary – and for them, an Air 2 makes more sense.

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To anyone that wants an iPad with more power, a better media and reading experience and more abilities than ever before, there’s no question here. Go for the iPad Pro and you’ll love it !!!!!!

22 2015 Nov

iPad Pro review (Page 25) ipad air (Evaluation: 4.5/5)

Apple-iPad-Pro-128GB-Wi-Fi-Silver-129-Display-0-300x300We liked (Suite 2)
And finally – the apps themselves. There’s nothing more powerful in Apple’s arsenal than the huge array of instantly accessible titles, as they instantly transform the iPad Pro with a few downloads. I’ve suddenly got a free suite of office apps, multiple games that look great on the new screen and reams of media to play with.

We disliked
Could I use this as a laptop replacement? Well, it depends what you’re using your laptop for now. If it’s idly browsing the web and thinking about writing a novel one day, then absolutely. Anything beyond that, you’re still going to need to keep one around.

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The thing is, this is iOS. It’s not El Capitan. That means – despite Apple’s efforts with Split Screen mode – you can’t truly multi-task. As my efforts described above revealed, you can’t use the iPad Pro to post a full review, interact seamlessly with a CMS or upload photos with great ease. It’s POSSIBLE, just not simple.

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The weight will be an issue for some tablet users too – this is a heavier device, and not one that can be held in one hand for a long time. That’s kind of obvious, given the size, but it would have been a nice delight to find that it somehow manages to have the same heft as a smaller iPad.

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The battery life isn’t brilliant – but that’s because I’ve been using the iPad Pro so differently to other tablets. Most of those are larger phones, being used in such a way, where I’ve been sketching, typing and moving reams of information around on this thing. It’s fine, but doesn’t last a week and a half like most of the other tablets I’ve used – more three quarters of a day with active tappings.

22 2015 Nov

iPad Pro review (Page 24) ipad air (Evaluation: 4.5/5)

Apple-iPad-Pro-128GB-Wi-Fi-Silver-129-Display-0-300x300We liked (Suite 1)
The four speakers on the side of the tablet are something to really show off too (not on public transport of course) – the sound that’s emitted from them not only reminds me of the impressive HTC BoomSound, but also puts the other mono speakers on the iDevices to shame.

I almost didn’t want to use headphones to watch movies and listen to music on the Pro, such was the power.

Speaking of power, this thing has it in spades. It smashes benchmarks, ripples through any task and can perform image modifications in a heartbeat. I don’t usually put much stead in how things function in terms of simple numbers, but the jump here is so vast that, again, you can see that Apple has made a tablet that’s more than just a bigger version of what was there before.

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This might not be a huge amount of use right now, but in the coming months and years of having the Pro you’ll benefit from the power.

The Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard are well thought-out devices: the stylus’ multiple sensors, and the execution of pressing down on different areas, are delightful… but not the first time we’ve seen it, with many other brands using such a tool.

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However, it’s the developers that will make this a success, as time and again there have been situations where Apple has launched a thing that others have before only to make it popular – moving photos, contactless payments and more.

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It’s a massive shame the Pencil and Keyboard aren’t bundled, and they’re not cheap… at least they’re powerful enough to at least warrant a higher price.

22 2015 Nov

iPad Pro review (Page 23) ipad air (Evaluation: 4.5/5)

Apple-iPad-Pro-128GB-Wi-Fi-Silver-129-Display-0-300x300But your affection, desire or interest is purely limited to what you use a laptop or tablet for already. If you’re a hardcore laptop fiend, crouching over it at every possibility throughout the day, the iPad Pro is going to have a very different set of criteria to the person who idly uses the tablet around the house and occasionally pulls it out on the train to quickly update documents or fill out a to-do list before work.

The iPad Pro might, in the future, be seen as normal, in the same way that a 5-inch screen on a phone is viewed as regular now, where just five years ago you looked like a mental early adopter holding a massive device to your ear to use such a thing.

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Just remember: the iPad Pro is oversized to solve a problem and you’ll have to actively want that extra size to really enjoy. If you want an average tablet, you might find this a bit too much.

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We liked
There’s something intangibly great about the iPad Pro the minute you pick it it up. You’ll recognise it instantly as an iPad as it retains a very close design language to the others in the range, but it just looks… bigger. That sounds so ridiculously obvious, but it’s like seeing a school friend after the summer and finding they’ve spend the entire time bulking up.

It’s familiar, but it’s a whole new way of looking at them – and it’s great.

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I’ve relegated my iPad Air to my bag, pulling it out for a spot of media once in a while and finding my phone is good enough for most tasks. But the iPad Pro has reinvigorated my love of tablets, causing me to look forward to the idle commuting moments when I can pull it out and use it.

22 2015 Nov

iPad Pro review (Page 22) ipad air (Evaluation: 4.5/5)

The biggest and best tablet Apple’s ever made

Samsung Galaxy View

I’ve included this just because it’s a big tablet from Samsung, but in reality the two aren’t competitors at all. The View comes in at 18.4-inches for the screen, is a portable Android tablet that’s seemingly designed exclusively for the house and doesn’t have anywhere near the screen resolution.

That said, it’s half the cost of the base model iPad Pro, and if you’re just looking for a tablet that can replace the TV around the home, or function as a second device, this will do the job for less cash. However, it’s a lot heavier and has a bolted-on kickstand, so get working on those shoulders before purchase.

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Nexus 9

The Nexus 9 is the cheapest option here (around a third of the price of the Pro), simply because it seems Google has forgotten about its flagship, HTC-made tablet.

It has decent front-facing speakers (thanks to the affiliation with HTC) and comes with an optional keyboard to turn it into a more laptop-esque experience. You can pick up styluses for it, and of course it runs the latest version of Android, so you’ll always be up to date with your software.

 

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It’s a smaller screen though – even lower than the iPad Air 2 – so be ready to squint a bit more if you want to save some cash.

The iPad Pro is a divisive tablet. It’s just a bigger iPad, which is uninteresting to some. To others it’s a bigger iPad, and that’s awesome.

22 2015 Nov

iPad Pro review (Page 21) ipad air (Evaluation: 4.5/5)

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What it lacks is the App Store offerings that the iPad can take advantage of – there’s so much here that can alter your iPad in a heartbeat, taking it from one type of machine to another, and really dedicating to one task.

It depends what you want. If you’re after a targeted, fluid tablet-centric experience then the iPad has the lead. If you’re looking for the full desktop way of doing things, then that’s where the SP4 sits.

iPad Air 2
You’re thinking whether you need all that extra space in your hand. Do you want the extra speaker power, the ability to type on the go or sketch down notes?

To some people – probably not, and they’ll still be able to pick up the iPad Air 2 (for less cash too). It still runs nearly every app with power and grace, and while the screen isn’t as immersive thanks to the smaller size, it’s slightly more portable. It’s a shame you can’t use the Pencil here, but there are styluses and keyboards available from third parties if you fancy that.

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Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet

Android’s best tablet-cum-word processor is worthy of inclusion here as it offers something different to the iPad Pro. Firstly, Android is a more customisable experience, letting you move files around and change the way it looks with ease.

Sony has also accessorised the OS to let you use a pointer with the keyboard to navigate around the display, something the iPad doesn’t have in its wheelhouse, and I would have sorely loved it on the iPad Pro to not have to keep jabbing at the screen with less precision than mice afford.

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The Z4 Tablet has a great screen, is waterproof and is cheaper than the iPad Pro by a few hundred dollar bucks – but lacks the capacity, grunt and size the Pro can bring.

21 2015 Nov

iPad Pro review (Page 20) ipad air (Evaluation: 4.5/5)

Apple-iPad-Pro-128GB-Wi-Fi-Silver-129-Display-0-300x300Gaming
The gaming element of the iPad Pro is theoretically strong, but then again it was on other devices too historically. While could connect up a controller and play Sonic the Hedgehog on the go, that would be awesome.. The A9X is very powerful though, and as such you’d expect every app to fly along using it.

I played the graphically-rich ‘The Room Three’ (seriously, head out and buy The Room One AND Two right now, then play this) and apart from slowing down in the opening loading scene (as it did the mini 4) there weren’t any issues at all – seeing the same issue in two places shows it’s the coding, not the hardware that’s got the slight issue there.

 

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The really problem with the iPad Pro and gaming: it’s just too cumbersome to be held in two hands for any length of time if you’re constantly stretching all over the screen to kill robot aliens or what have you.

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While I didn’t find myself playing that many speedy games over the course of the review (preferring my phone often to get the more agile experience), the slower, puzzle-based games seem pretty cool, and as mentioned, throwing a Bluetooth controller into the mix seems like a perfect fit when you download the older, retro titles for gaming on a train when you have one of those ‘winning at life’ moments and get a table seat.

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Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Let’s get right to the big one: the Pro 4. This model has a lot going for it in the ‘battle of the Pros’, as it can also use a stylus, a clip on keyboard, has a similar-sized screen but also offers a full desktop experience. It’s slightly cheaper too (starting at 128GB models) and comes with the pen included – but the power and storage options go way higher (as does the cost… ouch).

21 2015 Nov

iPad Pro review (Page 19) ipad air (Evaluation: 4.5/5)

Apple-iPad-Pro-128GB-Wi-Fi-Silver-129-Display-0-300x300Music (Suite)
Move to Apple Music though and things are (obviously) fine. The audio quality of these tunes is great, and I’m starting to quite like the curated playlists offered up every single day. It does require the $9.99 / £9.99 monthly subscription – use the three month trial to see if it’s something for you (and it’s on Android devices now, if you’re a cross-tribe phone and tablet user).

Movies
I just love using the iPad Pro for all manner of movie and TV watching, as it’s an experience far enough removed from my phone that I’ll now instinctively reach for the iPad whenever I want to watch football highlights, grab a few minutes of a movie or start streaming Netflix.

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Thanks to the power of the App Store, there’s loads to choose from here, and you’re safe in the knowledge the apps will likely be most effectively coded onto the iPad platform. It doesn’t support all file types, but add in something VLC Player and you’ll be able to play back nearly any format.

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The colour rendering is good, and the contrast ratio decent – it’s not the best out there and did have elements of looking over-bright at times – I’m one of those that prefers the crisp lines of the Super AMOLED technology, and in terms of out and out iPad screen performance, the iPad mini 4 takes the title right now.

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That said, the large screen is just brilliant for all kinds of moving images, especially when you’re just quietly streaming some sport in the background while you’re supposed to be working.

21 2015 Nov

iPad Pro review (Page 18) ipad air (Evaluation: 4.5/5)

Apple-iPad-Pro-128GB-Wi-Fi-Silver-129-Display-0-300x300But, for me, the biggest reason is the app range available. You can get so many powerful media players now on the App Store that it’s always going to be a great experience. When it comes to video it’s a little annoying – you have to sideload stuff through iTunes rather than just being able to drag and drop like on Android devices, but it’s possible.

There’s also the issue of storage, where you’ve got two choices: big or little. There’s no way to add in another bit of storage through microSD slot (although if you expected that on an iPad in this day and age, where have you been?)

Music
Let’s get into the smaller components of this category, and music is a big part of that. It’s not often I’ll say that about a tablet, but in this case it’s warranted thanks to the audio performance.

With headphones on (at a desk of course – this isn’t something you’d cart around on the train to play tunes instead of your phone) the audio quality is excellent, using Apple’s music smarts to create a really compelling sound.

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But it’s with the headphones out that the iPad Pro really comes into its own. The four speakers are really loud and powerful, working as well as many Bluetooth speakers and not sounding at all tinny. I was genuinely surprised at the audio performance here, expecting it to contain a lot more distortion thanks to being on a tablet.

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It’s a shame at this early stage of the review that some apps still aren’t quite working, and Spotify is one of the unhelpful ones. I’m sure it’ll be sorted soon, but for now the app will crash every time it opens up.

21 2015 Nov

iPad Pro review (Page 17) ipad air (Evaluation: 4.5/5)

Apple-iPad-Pro-128GB-Wi-Fi-Silver-129-Display-0-300x300In 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.

Actually, that’s not fair. I’d say that the iPad Pro’s massive screen is perfect for video analysis, especially when combined with the Pencil for easy annotations.

With that in mind, it’s a shame that the slo-mo mode is limited to 120fps at 720p footage, rather than the whizzy 240fps offered by the iPhone. The processor can clearly handle the load as it’s far more powerful, so why hasn’t Apple enabled it?

The footage is grainy too – and even normal video is only average. Yes, you can shoot in 1080p at 30 fps, but there’s no 4K option here either. I know it’s hypocritical to castigate something that I’ve just said shouldn’t be used, but if the CPU can handle it, Apple should offer it.

Timelapse is an interesting option though, as it works nicely with the tablet propped up shooting all those lovely photos every few seconds – definitely an option to try out.

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Camera samples

IMG_0046-650-80 (Sample 2 iPad Pro) IMG_0046-650-80 (Sample 4 iPad Pro)

Ah, the iPad Pro and media. A marriage made in heaven. In many ways, this is the perfect media device, for a multitude of reasons.

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Firstly, it’s powerful. That means it can handle all kinds of footage without worrying about judder and slowdown from the hardware. The screen is superbly high-res and even ‘normal’ HD footage looks great on it.

Then there’s the speakers – they’re just brilliant for all of it. The sound coming out is exquisite and makes it all a joy to use.