Ap­ple goes maxi with the ipad Pro

FOR Sharp screen; fine au­dio; fast pro­ces­sor; ac­ces­sories AGAINST Pricey; needs more na­tive apps

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Contents -

Ever since Ap­ple an­nounced the ipad Pro late last year, peo­ple have strug­gled with how they should la­bel it. Is this a lap­top re­place­ment or just a re­ally big ipad?

The thing is, try­ing to shoe­horn it into a sin­gle cat­e­gory is ei­ther mis­un­der­stand­ing what Ap­ple has tried to do here, or sell­ing it very much short of what it’s ca­pa­ble of. In re­al­ity, it sits some­where be­tween the two. It looks very much like the rest of the ipad fam­ily, with its gen­tly curved edges and brushed-metal chas­sis seem­ing very fa­mil­iar.

Of course it’s much big­ger – and to be­gin with feels stupidly so. At 12.9in, the ipad Pro dwarfs the ipad Air 2 and makes the ipad mini 4 seem al­most toy-like. But it isn’t long be­fore ev­ery­thing clicks into place and it all seems so ob­vi­ous. Go­ing back to the Air 2 af­ter an hour with the Pro, we had to check we hadn’t picked up the mini by mis­take. All of a sud­den it feels like this is the size of ipad that makes sense.

Big­ger is bet­ter

Just as with a phone screen, the ipad Pro’s larger screen makes ev­ery­thing you do – whether it’s watch­ing movies, brows­ing the web or work­ing on doc­u­ments – an in­her­ently bet­ter ex­pe­ri­ence.

Ap­ple has made sure that mak­ing the jump in screen size doesn’t mean any un­nec­es­sary bulk ei­ther. As­sum­ing you can make room for its big­ger size in your bag, at 6.9mm thick it’s close to ipad Air 2 lev­els of slim­ness, and at 713g it’s still much lighter than your lap­top.

Leader of the res­o­lu­tion

At 12.9in, there’s 78 per cent more screen to go at here than with the ipad Air 2, and with a res­o­lu­tion of 2732 x 2048 and an ipad Air 2-match­ing 264ppi, it’s the high­estres­o­lu­tion Retina dis­play on any por­ta­ble de­vice – its whop­ping 5.6 mil­lion pix­els tops even the 15in Macbook Pro.

They come to­gether and of­fer a su­perb video ex­pe­ri­ence that’s hard to fault. Colours are slightly more muted here than on the ipad Air 2, but they never ap­pear dull or washed out – just more nat­u­ral.

Con­trast is still su­perb, with whites bright and blacks deep, while edges and out­lines are al­ways well etched and solid.

The big­ger screen isn’t only bet­ter for video. The ex­tra screen real-es­tate lends it­self well to things such as multi-task­ing, mean­ing the split-screen ca­pa­bil­ity brought in with IOS9 makes even more sense here.

While the screen might be the head­line fea­ture, there’s plenty more for the ipad Pro to shout about, in­clud­ing a new, more pow­er­ful A9X pro­ces­sor. It prom­ises to be 1.8x faster than the A8X in the Air 2, with dou­ble the graph­ics per­for­mance and twice the RAM. There’s cer­tainly no doubt­ing it’s fast. It wades through pro­ces­sor-heavy tasks like movie and photo edit­ing with­out worry, so it makes easy work of more me­nial tasks like brows­ing and mul­ti­task­ing. There are no stut­ters when jump­ing be­tween apps or swip­ing through menus and web­pages. Gam­ing is also su­per-smooth and lag-free.

App Store only

The ipad Pro runs on IOS9, so can only run apps from the App Store, rather than the desk­top soft­ware your Macbook would be ca­pa­ble of (such as full Adobe Photoshop).

If any­thing, that’s what the ipad Pro is wait­ing on for its size and power re­ally to make sense – more specif­i­cally de­signed apps that take ad­van­tage of its big­ger screen and faster pro­cess­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

A large part of the ipad Pro’s charm is its em­pha­sis on cre­at­ing things, re­mov­ing a level of tech­ni­cal­ity to put you into a much

Ap­ple ipad Pro

Tablet

£680 (32GB)

“The ipad Pro is quite pos­si­bly the best tablet on the mar­ket to­day. It proves that size most def­i­nitely mat­ters, and that big­ger is cer­tainly bet­ter ”

more nat­u­ral set-up, with all the sim­plic­ity of pen and pa­per on a hugely ad­vanced dig­i­tal in­ter­face. This is cer­tainly aided by Ap­ple’s Pen­cil ac­ces­sory – a sty­lus-type de­vice avail­able sep­a­rately for £79.

We say 'sty­lus-type' be­cause this isn’t some­thing you’d use for gen­eral nav­i­ga­tion, but for more pre­ci­sion de­sign work or notes. It’s a joy to use, weighted per­fectly in the hand with sen­sors that de­tect its po­si­tion, level of pres­sure and an­gle.

Key­board is a case in point

There’s an­other of­fi­cial ac­ces­sory for the ipad Pro, and that’s Ap­ple’s Smart Key­board – a £140 pro­tec­tive case that dou­bles as a stand with a su­per-slim fold­able key­board built in. With a closed-key de­sign, it is both spill-proof and wipe clean and, un­like some third party al­ter­na­tives, doesn’t re­quire sep­a­rate charg­ing. In­stead it con­nects to the ipad Pro via its three-pronged Smart Con­nec­tor, which pow­ers it when­ever it’s in use, by way of con­duc­tion.

To keep the key­board so slim (4mm), the keys are quite shal­low, so don’t have the same level of travel as you’ll be used to from a lap­top, which might take some ad­just­ing to. Oth­er­wise, it’s the same size as a reg­u­lar Macbook key­board, and so typ­ing on it is sur­pris­ingly com­fort­able. We do wish the screen tilt were ad­justable though.

Changes with sound too

On to mu­sic and there have been some sig­nif­i­cant changes here too. Firstly, there are now four speak­ers – one at each cor­ner – that cre­ate a much big­ger, more solid stereo sound. They’re in­tel­li­gent speak­ers too, chang­ing their fo­cus with the ipad’s ori­en­ta­tion – while all four will pro­duce bass fre­quen­cies, the up­per two will ded­i­cate them­selves to high fre­quen­cies for a cleaner, clearer sound. The per­for­mance us­ing head­phones seems to have a bet­ter sense of space, too.

Cam­eras have very lit­tle place on tablets at the best of times, let alone those mea­sur­ing in at 12.9in. But Ap­ple has in­cluded them all the same, with the same front-fac­ing and rear cam­eras as the ipad Air 2. This means an 8MP f/2.4 lens on the main cam with aut­o­fo­cus and 1080P video ca­pa­bil­i­ties, and a 1.2MP, 720p Facetime HD cam­era on the front. As ever, you’ll get pass­able shots in good light, but it’s worth re­mem­ber­ing there’s no flash here so it’s not one for low-light snap­ping.

We're big fans of the ipad Pro. Its larger, im­proved screen makes for a su­perb movie-watch­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, while its power boost means it’s as fast and smooth as you could ever want it to be. Add that to im­proved au­dio across the board, and some ex­cel­lently con­sid­ered ac­ces­sories, and you have a su­perb tablet propo­si­tion – as­sum­ing you have the space and bud­get of course, be­cause the ipad Pro is not cheap. Start­ing at £680 for 32GB with wi-fi and go­ing up to £900 for the top spec (128GB + 3G), there are plenty of lap­tops you could get for less.

But then you wouldn’t buy this if you wanted a lap­top. The ipad Pro is very much a tablet, and quite pos­si­bly the best tablet on the mar­ket to­day. It proves that size most def­i­nitely mat­ters. And when it comes to tablets, big­ger is cer­tainly bet­ter.

It costs ex­tra, but

the Pen­cil is a

nicely weighted

ac­ces­sory that

makes writ­ing and

draw­ing feel

com­pletely nat­u­ral

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