Monster sized iPad read on for a nontechie re
04 Jul 2016
Reviewed On: amazon.in
Overall: ** iPad Pro 12.9 inch - The bigger iPad Pro**
Just when sales of the Apple tablet flagship, the iPad Air 2 were flagging, Apple released this beast of a machine - the iPad Pro - a potential laptop replacement.
Almost twice the speed of the Air 2 and with 2732 x 2048 pixels but without the force touch screen which senses a light touch or a real press, a total of four speakers and the optional Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard accessories it s a remarkable device. Of course it comes with an even faster Touch ID (fingerprint sensor) to protect your sensitive data, although at 713g it s relatively heavy when compared to the Air at a svelte 437g.
A word of warning, this is a very long review and describes the entire iPad range to help you decide the best model for you. It s broken up into sections to make it manageable, so make a cup of tea, sit down and read on.
The iPad Pro - A Review
In a word - it s huge. At 713g it s 60% heavier than the incredibly light iPad Air 2, and actually feels a little unwieldy and uncomfortable to hold for long periods. I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed during the first week before I bought an Apple Smart Keyboard - at which point it magically transforms into an incredibly versatile laptop.
Differences to the iPad Air
While it may be 60% heavier, the screen is 32% bigger and the same ultra-sharp image on an enormous IPS screen. The new A9X processor is 1.8 times faster than the iPad Air 2 which means you can even edit 4K video on this device, and you now get 4 speakers which produce a much better sound. Amazingly, the speakers automatically change direction depending whether you hold it in portrait or landscape mode which is a lovely touch.
The non-removable battery is a whopping 10,307 mAh which despite the huge power hungry screen delivers a full 10 hours usage, and in my tests it lasted the distance streaming movies from Netflix without issue.
You also have the option of adding a Smart Keyboard or Apple Pencil - although that option is now also available on the smaller 9.7 inch iPad Pro.
What s the accessories like?
While you can buy a cover for this, I think it makes a lot more sense as a laptop replacement by adding a keyboard. I bought the Apple Smart Keyboard, and it completely transforms this device. At 245g it adds hardly anything to weight, and at 3mm thin it s an amazing piece of technology and design.
It snaps onto the iPad Pro using magnets, and protects the screen, although you can buy a cover for the back as well. It s made out of a soft touch nylon material that s lovely to the touch, and folds out to support the keyboard, or around the back to act as a stand.
Unlike every other iPad keyboard that connects using bluetooth with an inevitable delay waiting for it to connect, this device is attached physically with 3 metal points, and is held magnetically in place. Just drop it in place, and it s ready to go.
As a keyboard, it s terrific, with full size keys, the only compromise being a shorter up/down arrow, and there s no dedicated function keys like there in on the Logitec keyboard. Surprisingly, the keyboard is entirely sealed, and will resist liquid spills although I ve not tried it myself.
Finally, there s also the Apple Pencil which acts as a stylus for drawing or signing documents. I ve not bought this myself, but tried it in the Apple store, and again it s a remarkable piece of technology. It measures both the angle and force used, and adjusts the thickness and spread of the drawing surface. A very impressive device indeed.
Which to buy? iPad Air or Pro
Given the significant price difference your budget will be a primary factor. For my money, if you want a true laptop replacement, but love the playfulness of the iPad operating system look no further than the iPad Pro. Even so, I ve used an iPad Air 2 with an external keyboard for years, and it s been a pleasure to use.
Either way, I doubt you ll be disappointed by this device, and it s certainly a worthy upgrade from the iPad range.
FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is this the latest iPad Pro?
A: Yes. (Provided you re reading this before September 2016). Launched September 2015. Likely to be superseded Autumn 2016.
Q: Is this covered by Warranty ?
A: Yes. Full 12 month Apple warranty, and 90 days free technical support. You can also extend the warranty with "AppleCare+" provided to take out the cover within 60 days of buying your iPad. This includes accidental damage insurance (up to two incidents per year subject to an excess charge).
Q: Why are these cheaper on Amazon than at the Apple store? What's the catch?
A: No catch. You can buy in person from the Apple store (including free engraving). Alternatively buy from Amazon with a 30 day NO QUESTIONS ASKED return policy. If you find this item is NOT as described, (eg. does not have a UK plug), return it immediately, report the issue to Amazon, and write a critical review.
Q: Help! There seems to be loads of Generations and iPad model numbers - how can I tell which one I m looking at?
A: Yes, it s confusing, and I ve provided full details below, but there s a relatively simple way to check - just see which version of iOS (the operating system) it s running.
iPad Pro: So far, just the one model, launched 2015.
Full Size iPads: I wouldn t really recommend anything but the iPad Air (iOS 7) or iPad Air 2 (iOS 8).
Mini iPads: There s currently 4 generations: iPad mini 1 (iOS 6), iPad Mini 2 - Retina Display (iOS7) or iPad mini 3 (iOS8) and Mini 4 (iOS9)
Note: You can upgrade your iPad for free to the latest version, but you may find it runs slightly slower than before.
Q: Should I buy the Cellular option?
A: You almost certainly don't need to - as ever it always depends. Many iPads never leave home, and even when they do you can store your videos/music on the device or connect to a coffee bar hotspot to get online. If you have a smartphone (eg. Android or iPhone) you can set up a "personal hot spot" or "tethering" and use your data plan on your phone. This effectively allows you to connect a WIFI only iPad to the internet via your mobile phone while you re out and about. On an Android phone go to Setup --> Tethering & portable hotspot. On on iPhone go to Settings --> Personal Hotspot, and set up a personal WIFI network from your phone. Try it now, but be aware it may be an optional extra dependent upon your mobile phone plan.
Q: How much storage or "disk space" do I need?
A: It depends. If intend to buy lots of Apps or store lots of videos and photos then go for the 128Gb. If it s your first iPad, and you'll mainly be using it for accessing web pages and reading the odd book, then 32Gb will be fine. Be aware, you cannot increase the storage - you can't add an SD card. .
Q: Is it easy to set up?
A: Yes - very easy. Be sure to be near a WIFI connection, and the iPad will carefully take you through the steps needed to set it up. No, there s very little in the way of an instruction manual - which is a testament to the simplicity of this device. It s so easy to use most people find they don t need one. However, there are lots of books available on Amazon. Just search for iPad under books if you re concerned.
Q: Does it have a USB connection?
A: No. This means you can t connect just any old device, but also means you can t accidentally get a virus. To help support this, all Apps (programs) are available over the air (downloaded from the Apple App Store) and vetted by Apple. You can buy a cable which means you can plug in an SD Card to download photos. Search Amazon for "lightning to sd card reader to find these. Apple provide a free back-up service for upto 5Gb of data (or 20Gb for a monthly fee). Just plug in your iPad to re-charge, and it will automatically be backed up to the Apple servers (the cloud ).
Q: Do I need a computer?
A: No. All you really need is a WIFI connection. Whether an iPad could replace your laptop is another question. You can type (and print) letters, read eMails, view web pages, view photos or watch videos and listen to music on an iPad. You can even attach an external keyboard and type entire documents (this review was partly written on an iPad Air on a train). You can run MS Office or use the free Apple versions (Pages and Numbers). Personally, I find I use my iPad 95% of the time, only using a laptop to connect to the office. Whether you can get by with only an iPad is your decision based upon your needs.
Q: Does it run Microsoft Office?
A: Yes. Although it s free on the iPad range, on the iPad Pro you ll need an Office 365 subscription to write documents.
Q: Can I print from the iPad Pro?
A: Yes. Provided you are running a relatively modern printer with a WIFI connection you can.
Q: Can I read books, watch films and listen to music on an iPad Pro?
A: Yes. That s what I use it for most of the time. Kindle or Apple books work beautifully. You can rent/buy films from Apple, Amazon and lots of others. You can watch catch up TV services. You can load your music (MP3 files) on an existing computer to iTunes, and sync them with the iPad or stream unlimited music from music sites including Spotify. Finally, you can stream video to your TV using a set-top box from Apple (TV), Amazon (Fire) or Google (Chromecast)
Q: Do you work for Apple or Amazon?
A: A fair question that nobody has yet been brave enough to ask. No. Neither. I love the iPad, and I'm a great fan of Amazon s customer service. Fantastic technology and great service at a terrific price. What's not to get excited about? ;-)
Which model should I buy?
Skip this section if you are familiar with the range, otherwise read on.
Firstly, there s a confusing number of options available including the iPad Generation 1-4, iPad Air 1-2, and Mini 1-4. We then have WIFI and Cellular options, all with different size storage. Bare with me, and I ll take you through them.
Which model - Full size iPad the Pro or Mini?
The full size iPad is slightly smaller than an A4 pad of paper whereas the mini is more the size of an incredibly thin paperback book (comparable in fact to the Amazon Kindle). Both iPads have a colour touch sensitive screen, and largely the same functionality, although the iPad Air 2 is now faster than it s smaller mini equivalent.
The iPad Pro is an even bigger screen (much more like a laptop), and is designed to be used either with a keyboard or without.
In short, the main difference is physical screen size and power. If you plan to read books or watch video standing on train or bus, the mini is your best option. If you want the bigger screen (or perhaps faster iPad Air 2 processor), then the full size iPad is the best option. Finally, if you want a laptop replacement, go for the Pro.
What s the storage options?
Storage (for Apps, photos or videos) start at 32g which is fine if you plan to surf the web, read books or stream video. Personally I used a 16 or 32g iPad every day for four years - it s a lot more space than many people will need. If however you intend to save lots of films or photos, then you re better off with the larger storage options. Be aware once bought, you can t add storage, so choose carefully.
Storage options are now 32g and 128g on the iPad Pro, although there are other options on other models.
Personally, I d take a cue from Apple sizing:-
* 16g if you re a first time iPad user or are unlikely to store lots of top-end games or video.
* 64g if it s for a teenager or you plan to store lots.
* 128g if you ve got really deep pockets and need lots of stoage
WIFI or Cellular?
Firstly all iPads include a WIFI connection. You can pay extra for a cellular option which means you can (for an additional monthly fee) buy a data subscription from a mobile phone network, and use your iPad to surf the web when you re out an about. If however like me you have a smartphone (Android or iPhone it doesn t matter) then navigate to Settings > Personal Hotspot and set up a password.
This means you can create a Personal Hotspot using your smartphone data subscription. Also known as tethering , you can then connect your WIFI only iPad to the web, and off you go.
Personally, I use this every day on the train and it s just brilliant. Just as fast as a cellular iPad, but more flexible (two people can share the connection), and cheaper too. Just check your mobile contract supports tethering, and includes enough of a data allowance. Otherwise you ll run up a huge bill as you ll find your iPad uses data faster than than your smartphone.
Accessories - What else will I need ?
All you need is a WIFI connection - you don t even need a computer. However, there s a number of additional accessories/devices you could buy with your iPad, and it's worth doing a search on Amazon. These include:-
* A cover or case - to prevent it getting scratched (definately worth buying). You can even get Child Proof cases for some of the smaller iPads - a must have for parents with toddlers.
* A wireless bluetooth speaker - to listen to music. A MUST HAVE for anyone who loves music. Sound quality incredible, and will also work with your smartphone or laptop.
* A "power bank" - as an emergency battery back-up. Also great for your smartphone - never run out of battery again.
* A separate keyboard - to turn your iPad into a virtual laptop. (I use mine every day on the train instead of a bulky laptop).
* An Apple TV, Google Chrome or Amazon Fire TV. Means you can stream photos/video from your iPad to your TV.
Most people (me included) buy a cover (or case) to avoid scratches and bumps.
Effectively you have two options:-
* Attached to the iPad by magnets, the cover protects only the screen from dirt or scratches
* A case encloses the entire device protecting back and screen. You can also buy child proof cases.
Both types automatically shut down the iPad when you close the lid (a lovely touch). You can pay a lot for an admittedly top quality cover from Apple, alternatively buy one on Amazon for about less. The highest rated covers (by customer rating) seem to be produced by Swees , Mofred and EasyAcc . Just be careful to buy one that fits your device. You ll find your existing cover (screen only) will fit almost any iPad (2nd generation to Air 2), but you ll need to be careful to buy the correct case as the iPad Air and Air 2 are each thinner than previous models.
A "Bluetooth Speaker" is a fantastic way to listen to music or the radio streamed from your iPad or Smartphone, and sound quality is astonishingly good.
The best devices I've tested and reviewed at every price point are:-
* Lepow Modre - Really cute design, bright colours and impressive sound for the money.
* ADX Fusion - Stylish aluminium design and excellent sound quality. Great value for the money from a small UK based company
* Audio Dynamix Atom - Solid build in a beautiful brushed aluminium design with an impressive sound stage. Incredible value.
* Audio Dynamix Pulse - Quirky design, but packs a punch way above its weight. Incredible sound quality, amazing value.
* Soundblaster Roar - Fantastic design with tons of features and a great sound
* Bose Soundlink Mini - Beautifully stylish with a warm and full room filling sound
* Bose Soundlink V3 - Simple but stylish design with an incredible sound stage
* Bowers & Wilkins A5 - Mercedes top end HI FI in a bluetooth speaker
* Bowers & Wilkins A7 - Mercedes S Class. Absolute top end HI FI quality at a price to match
All of these are available on Amazon. Just mouse over the stars for these speakers. You ll find in each case 90% of customers rated them at FIVE STARS. An incredible achievement. These really are the best speakers in their class as of January 2016.
You can also buy a separate keyboard which turns your full size iPad into a virtual laptop computer.
Again there's lots of options - the best I've tried, tested and reviewed are:-
For the iPad or iPad Air:-
* Zagg - a top quality "full keyboard. Some models even have back-lit keys - great for sitting in bed late at night
* Logitec Ultrathin - a top quality "half depth keyboard, but a pleasure to use
For the iPad Pro:-
* Apple Smart Keyboard - Incredibly thin, light and fantastic to use
* Logitec Create Backlit Keyboard - Slightly cheaper, and with a back-lit keys, but much heavier
Again, take care to buy the keyboard which fits your particular iPad model.
How about Apps?
Firstly, an App, is a small "application" (a program) that runs on your iPad, and there's literally thousands available from the "App Store", with the most important ones (web browser, mail, music player, word processor, spreadsheet etc) are pre-installed or free to download.
Many apps cost 69p, and loads are free (frequently advertising funded with the option to "add on" stuff - but beware you can run up a huge bill).
Here's my favourites:-
* Dispatch. Incredibly slick mail app (or use the built in Apple App) (Free)
* Photo & iPhoto. Built in apps to take/view/edit photos (Free)
* Skype or Apple Face Time. Chat to the family for free using a video call (Free)
* BBC iPlayer. Great way to catch up on BBC TV. Also ITV and Channel 4 and 5 have players. (Free).
* TVCatchup. Watch real time TV (the Freeview stations anyway). (Free)
* Netflix. For 6 a month watch a huge collection of films online. (Free)
* Evernote. Write and organise notes. Edit them on your Android, iPhone, iPad, PC or Mac (Free)
* DropBox. Access your files, documents and photos on Android, iPhone, iPad, PC or Mac. (Free)
* Tune In Radio. Listen to 1,000s of radio stations world-wide - or listen to Radio 4 like I do
* Spotify. Stream music for 5 a month (or free with ads). Brilliant! (Free)
* eBay. Buy and sell your stuff online. (Free)
* Garage Sale. Fantastic way to produce professional looking sales on eBay. ( 2.99)
* Zite. Online web magazine that learns what you like. Terrific! (Free)
* Movies by Flixter. Read reviews of films on cinema and DVD. (Free)
* Kindle. Read your books from Amazon Kindle bookstore. (Free)
* Pages, Numbers and Keynote. Apple's version of MS Office. Edit/save documents in Word, Excel andPowerpoint format. (Free)
Of course you could also use it to read web pages (my wife is addicted to the Daily Mail Online), or playing amazing games like Real Racing (Free) or "Cut the Rope". It's a wonderful surprise having come from a PC background to find the most expensive game in the top 100 cost less than a coffee.
Personally, I tend to use it for Mail, watching TV (BBC iPlayer, Netflix or Amazon Instant), or shopping using the built in browser - Safari. Having said that, I'm writing this review (using an external keyboard) on the free Apple word processing App, Pages - so it can (with a stretch) do "most" of what you can do on a PC or Mac.
It's hard to believe the first iPad was launched in 2010, and there's a huge raft of cheaper tablet computers to choose from, but the Apple iPad is still the one to beat. I can t put it better than Tech Radar who said A brilliant iPad that takes the device to a new real. I ve loved using it, but make sure you re ready for the larger size and weight .
Yes, there are cheaper Android based alternatives, but the quality, design and beauty of this tablet just sets it apart. If it were a car it'd be a top of the range Mercedes, BMW or Porsche.
I do hope this review was useful.
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