Fortune smiles upon me so often, just as I sold my iPad Air 2, I received the generous gift of an iPad Pro. Whilst it is fast and has a rather good screen, it is basically just a bloody big iPad – it is not terribly distinct from the iPad Air 2, beyond the screen and faster SoC, and that means it is saddled with the bleeding awful iOS.
Below is a picture of the iPad Pro above an iPad Air 2 – it is a beast.
The ‘Pro’ is supposed to mean ‘professional’, but it alluded that it earns ‘productivity’ and it can quite quite easily be used to run Microsoft’s Office 365 applications (still the only productivity suite that matters; Apple’s and Google’s efforts are mere toys in comparison).
Even though this is Apple’s serious iPad you are still only allowed the same number of icons on the launcher screen (see below); they are just bigger! I thought the iPad Air 2 treated me like a toddler, but the iPad Pro takes the Farley’s Rusk.
You can see below that I am using Microsoft Word to write this article using my extremely wonderful Logitech Tablet Keyboard for iPad (which is cheaper, less ugly and more practical than Apple’s official keyboard cover):
However, the bigger screen than the iPad Air 2 does not really add much to the Word experience compared to an iPad Air 2 – it just has bigger text!
The bigger screen can be used more practically, although in some programs this is taken to terrifying extremes:
I am so intimidated when I open Auria Pro (above) that I haven’t even played any of the demo songs let alone read the manual – which I would have preferred in ePUB or CHM format to a PDF #ePUBnotPDF!
It is true that some applications profit from the larger screen size. However, most just have their normal interface blown up, which seems a bit crappy. The Word picture I showed above shows no real benefit to the increased screen size.
However, this is the latest version of iOS that supports split screen multitasking:
I am not tickled pink by this, indeed you can colour me unimpressed. Sure you can run two apps side by side, but the interface for choosing which apps to run is unintuitive and you cannot drag and drop data between the two panes.
In the period of time I have been the iPad Pro I’ve mostly triggered split screen multitasking by accident and rarely found it more convenient to use it rather than just switching apps. I guess I am an old fashioned iPad user… oh god… I am an iPad user… and not just any old iPad user, I am using their flagship product!
So the large screen is questionably useful for applications. I am yet to try it with any drawing/painting package to any significant degree, which might be more of a benefit. What it is undoubtedly good for is media consumption and playing games.
Browsing the web in bed, the iPad Pro is just about light enough to hold in one hand, is a joy. Games look amazing, particularly if they are 3D games which can take advantage of the fast processor and graphics processor on the A9X SoC.
So just how fast is it? The ever-increasing Beyond the PC table of device Geekbench scores (below) shows we have a new winner, beating the iPad Air 2’s score of 4529 by almost 500 points with a score of 4970. This is exceedingly impressive for an ARM CPU, even though, as we always state, these scores have to be taken with a pinch of salt as they are questionably accurate when comparing different CPU architectures, especially Intel.
The 3DMark Icestorm Unlimited score is even more impressive at 30561 (see below). It whips the arse of the previous generation of Apple GPU’s, as well as it should, as it supposedly has 12 high-performance GPU cores on the SoC. This GPU is clearly setting the standard for the next generation of SoC’s to beat.
I may not have paid over the odds for an Apple type cover (and who can blame me?) but once I got the iPad Pro I thought the Apple Pencil would be a good investment, particularly as I have some pretensions to being able to draw with almost tolerable ability. The Apple Pencil looks like this:
However, to pair it to your iPad Pro and charge it on the go you have to do this:
There is a school of thought that Apple has lost its design sensibilities since Steve Jobs, the sociopathic fructivore, died. Looking at the picture above, it is hard not to agree. I cannot imagine him letting something as ridiculous as that out the door!
The Apple Pencil feels at first like it is just a cheap piece of plastic, but it has a weighty solidity and Apple have put all the weight on one side of the pencil so when you put it on you desk it stays where it is and does not roll away.
As I said, I have only briefly played with some drawing/painting packages since getting the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil, but it does seem extremely responsive with good pressure detection and also a pleasing response to you holding it at different angles. Despite the extremely silly way of charging it, the Apple Pencil is a good addition to the iPad Pro and I thoroughly expect it to produce some half decent pictures with it.
To summarise, the iPad Pro remains primarily a media consumption device, but an extremely good one with its large, high resolution display and fast SoC. There is some scope to be explored using the display for productivity, especially in music composition apps (an area which the iPad has proved a fertile development ground for) and drawing/painting apps. But, having said that, I really do not feel it differentiates itself from the normal iPad, it just feels like a very big iPad. And it still treats me like a bloody toddler!
If you feel that would be a good thing in your life then I would not feel bad recommending it. However, I will shortly be reviewing a different tablet which truly excels at productivity uses. Watch this space!