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Apple iPad Pro 2 review: It's what you make of it

The iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil makes it stand out.

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The Apple iPad Pro 2 – a.k.a. the Apple iPad Pro 2017 – is the latest productivity tablet from Apple. I’ve been using the device for about a month now. And just like you, I had a specific question in my mind – would I be able to replace my laptop with this device? If you’ve been looking to replace your bulky laptop with a slimmer, swifter alternative, I’ll try to be as candid as possible. Please read on.

Why does an iPad Pro exist?

This is the real question that needs to be answered. That’s where you’d find the answer you’re looking for. No one who’s ever used an Apple iPad would refer to it as mediocre. In a divisive fan community, I even know Android fans who love the iPad. If you’re indifferent to mobile operating systems, then the iPad Pro, now with iOS 11 (beta) will impress you with what it can do.

The good old Apple iPad is a work of engineering and art at play. The iPad Pro, on the other hand, is supposed to be engineering and art at work. The Apple iPad Pro is what you make of it. That’s an overtly used cliché you’d very frequently associate with Apple products and the Apple clan at large. It’s a clan I relate to. It’s an expression you can use interchangeably with the iPhone, or the Mac as well. It’s what you make of it.

Straight out of the iPad Pro box, what you get is a tablet. Duh. In the mind of a lay consumer, it’s easily interchangeable with a normal iPad, available in Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi + Cellular variants. The difference is Smart Connector, which is what Apple calls it. A few other manufacturers refer to it as a pogo pin connector. It’s pretty nifty, where magnets help snap on the keyboard to the tablet effortlessly.The first time you use it, you’ll go ‘wow’! ALSO READ: How to backup your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch on a Windows PC

The iPad Pro this year has a better processor, graphics and screen. It’s is powered by the A10X Fusion processor, which Apple claims is 30 percent faster than the last generation. In terms of graphics, this year’s iPad Pro is 40 percent faster than the previous generation. Finally, the display is way brighter. In addition, it features ProMotion technology which supports 120Hz refresh rate. To break these into practicality, it’s got a display that’s able to display more information, and adapt to rapid frame changes. It does all of this without compromising on battery life.

The iPad Pro package

Once you’ve pulled the iPad Pro from its box, you’ll realize you’re sitting with a powerful device in your hands. It’s easily more capable than a lot of laptops currently in use. It’s like Superman without kryptonite. Yes, the iPad Pro is Superman. I just said it.

And one man’s kryptonite is another man’s intemperance. With the iPad Pro, Apple has a modular approach. If offers you the tablet, and depending on your needs, you may opt to buy the Apple Pencil or the Smart Keyboard as well. If you’ve had a good day, you might just opt to buy the whole package with an impressive set of premium accessory cases. There’s a leather pouch that accommodates the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. It’s like the upholstery of your digital world. These come in at a significant additional cost though.

For best results, get yourself the Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard. But at Rs 13,900 for a Smart Keyboard, and Rs 8,600 for the Apple Pencil, they don’t come cheap. I’d think twice before adding them to my shopping cart. In this review, I’ve focused my attention on the Apple Pencil. The Smart Keyboard would make sense only if you prefer the iPad Pro over your laptop, and that’s subjective. I’ve come to realize that my preferred device to type would be a laptop such as the MacBook Air.

Do you need one?

Even if you are a creative professional working with a creative agency, chances are you’d fit into a workflow that involves powerful desktop computers. Although products like the iPad Pro have the potential to change the industry and its workflow, we have some time before that happens. What that means is, you’d still find yourself working on your desktop, and switching to the iPad Pro only to refine your work. Essentially, that’s how a professional tool like Adobe Creative Cloud will also channel professionals to work. You could also buy the iPad Pro to simply enjoy movies because of its impressive display and immersive speaker system. But that’s not the true purpose of Superman, err, the iPad Pro. For instance, a basic iPad with a Bose Soundlink speaker would still leave you with enough spare change to subscribe to a movie subscription service.

The excitement of the product

If you’re creative, then the Apple Pencil helps you do more. The time I’ve spent on the iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil has let me doodle and sketch without the guilt of wasting paper. I’ve practiced painting without the fear of ruining a canvas. I have reservations with the iPad Pro / Smart Keyboard combination over a MacBook. Or for that matter, a slim portable laptop.

Now this doesn’t mean that the experience isn’t impressive; it’s great, to be fair. It definitely doesn’t feel like ‘a tablet with a keyboard slapped on’. Prior to the iPad Pro, an iPad with a Logitech Bluetooth keyboard was a finer alternative, and still is a rather pocket-friendly way to accomplish something similar. If you need to make some quick, less-intensive edits to a document, then the Apple iPad Pro wins hands down. If you have to constantly travel and get in and out of documents as you switch between travel and work, the iPad Pro simplifies your life. It works out well if your workflow is all within documents and browser tabs. But if you need a system that works with different file formats, applications and software then the iPad Pro won’t accomplish much for you.

#procreate #ipadpro #applepencil #digitalart #typography #color #lettering

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Moreover, if you need to be able to work on any surface other than a table (your lap included) then the iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard isn’t the ideal combination. You’re better off with the MacBook Air or Pro, or for that matter, any device with a sturdy base.

The hardware upgrades this year focus on creative aspects. Better graphics implies you’ll use this for gaming. But let’s be real; it doesn’t make sense to look at the iPad Pro for gaming. The iPad Pro is a productivity device. For core gaming, you’re better off investing in a dedicated console like an Xbox or PlayStation.

The upgraded processor, graphics capabilities, refresh rate, brightness all help the creative professional. Features such as a brighter display, less latency all focus on the fluidity needed in a creative workflow. Talk sketching, color, and the dynamics of quick hand-eye coordination. That’s what it takes for technology to truly mimic pen and paper.

apple-ipad-review-bgr-2When I see an iPad Pro in the hands of a ‘gamer’, I lose peace. I’d rather see an exhausted professional from an agency at the end of an intensive pitch unwind by playing a few games. It’s the same thing, you may say, but they’re different. In one case you’re using it to game, as your gaming device, while in the other you’re using it to unwind.

The slim form factor of the device will let you modify your PowerPoint deck. It’s not the ideal device to create a master template. But once your master slides are in place, then the task of adding and deleting slides and making text modifications is a breeze.

Create your master slides on your laptop while you’re in office. And continue to add in words in prose and poetry to your slides while you’re enjoying a drink with your friends. If you feel guilty of ruining your time with them by working on it, well don’t the best ideas flow with the best company? The iPad Pro gets you into work zone, without giving your friends the impression that you’ve zoned them out.

If I take the example of this review, it’s been written over several days. Adding and modifying thoughts. Some of the times, I’ve been absolutely exhausted, typing out on Microsoft Word on my iPhone. Then, I’d switch to the iPad Pro when I was done lettering and doodling with the Apple Pencil, and of course, when I was at my productive best on my macOS and Windows laptops. But all of this was made possible by Microsoft Office Online, and the app which is cross platform. I could’ve also used Google Docs. ALSO READ: Apple iOS 11 public beta released: How to install it on your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch

The new iPad Pro comes with a display that refreshes 120 times a second. That’s double the typical frame rate of 60fps we’re used to. Come to think of it, each standard frame is refreshed twice. But that’s not how the device will work by default. A dedicated chip tells the Apple iPad Pro when to alter the refresh rate, because battery time is everything.

That’s the only thing you need to worry about as a consumer – the experience. And be assured, Apple has done its part in ensuring you have a hassle-free experience.

What would you do with the Apple iPad Pro

Are you a keyboard ninja, or a digital artist? This device makes more sense if the Apple Pencil is your tool, because the Apple Pencil gives you refinement that you can’t have with your finger. At the same time, iOS has a pretty effective onscreen keyboard anyway. It does a good job in letting you type flawlessly, but if you want to have one device to type, then it’s probably going to be a laptop.

If you’re the artistic kind, then you’d find that the Apple Pencil is the most underrated stylus around. I handed over the Apple Pencil to several creative professionals, and they were left impressed. I’ve used the Apple Pencil on the previous generation iPad Pro and on the current one. I’ve used the 9.7-inch, 12.9-inch and now the 10.5-inch iPad Pro tablets. And the 10.5-inch iPad brings the best of both worlds.

You know refresh rates are faster when you do intensive pencil shading. When you sketch, especially pencil or charcoal sketching, the lag between your stroke and the mark on your canvas makes a lot of difference. This influences your hand pressure, alignment of your pencil and the frequency of strokes. They’re all a function of the gradient and shade you’d impress on the canvas or display.

The Smart Keyboard and the Apple Pencil

apple-ipad-review-bgr-3Considering that this is a detachable keyboard meant for a tablet, it does a brilliant job. It is, however, my personal bias for a full-fledged keyboard on a Mac that gives me added confidence and comfort while typing away pages and pages of textevery day. The iPad Pro with a Smart Keyboard makes sense only during long-haul flights.

For writers and social media professionals who work at a desk, and those who work on browsers and documents, the iPad Pro with the smart keyboard gives them all that they need. But if you find yourself on the move constantly, with the pressures of life and without a table, then things get edgy. Tight deadlines mean you’d want to hammer your keyboard to type out hastily without bothering whether your device could take it or not. It had better, considering that’s why you invested in one.

Unlike impulsive writers on the Smart Keyboard, artists could simply relax thanks to the Apple Pencil. It lets them indulge in artistic strokes as they capture every image and impression that comes to mind without feeling limited.

iPad Pro or a laptop?

apple-ipad-review-bgr-4There’s a specific reason I believe this category will simply not replace your laptop, just like the dual-camera iPhone 7 Plus isn’t aimed at replacing DSLR cameras. In the Apple context, the iPhone does a great job in capturing images. It’s found a place for itself in the minds of consumers around images and the quality of reproducing scenes captured on it.

But Final Cut Pro on a Macbook Pro exists for a reason. The iPad also comes with a camera, but more than flaunting images or moving around with a large device clicking photos, it exists to let you input images into your workflow in real-time.

It comes in handy when you capture a photo, import it into an image editing app, doodle over it, throw in a few fonts, add a few creative filters, and voila! A camera is yet another input method for what could be a creative world. And the traditional laptop makes you feel limited for such tasks.

To buy or not to buy?

apple-ipad-review-bgr-5The answer varies based on what you need. I’d roughly break it down into four categories, and irrespective of what you do, you’d find yourself in one of these categories.

Just the iPad Pro

If you’re investing only in the iPad Pro, it’s like Superman with kryptonite. You may have the personality, but without augmented powers. That’s not the real thing, and that’s where the Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil come in. The tablet can be yours for anywhere between Rs 50,800 (10.5 inch Wi-Fi only with 64GB storage) to Rs 84,500 (10.5 inch Wi-Fi + Cellular with 512GB storage).

iPad Pro plus Smart Keyboard

This is the scenario if you’re a typing ninja. If you opted for the top end variant, that’d set you back by Rs 84,500 – only for the tablet. Add another Rs 13,900 for the keyboard, and you’re looking at credit statement of Rs 98,400. That’s probably where MasterCard comes in, but there are somethings that go beyond what money can buy. And that’s where diligence to step in and determine your exact need comes in.

In contrast, you’d get a MacBook Air for Rs 77,200 as per quotes on the official Apple India website. And if you go hunting online, you’d find one for about Rs 10,000 less.

iPad Pro plus Apple Pencil

You’re the artist. You believe in shades and strokes. You prefer pen and paper, pencil and paper, charcoal and paper, even brushes and canvas. You love the smell of oil pigments, and believe that art and creativity is what drives your life. For maximum storage, you can have the tablet and the Apple Pencil for Rs 93,100. Unfortunately, the Apple Pencil isn’t magnetic. So you might want to invest in Apple’s leather pouch, which will set you back by an additional Rs 12000. That’s Rs 105,100.

iPad Pro plus Smart Keyboard plus Apple Pencil

You’re a content maestro. You believe in art, and the power of words. You probably blog, or love doodling when you have free time. You play with words and art. And that’s why you’re willing to splurge on the iPad Pro + Smart Keyboard + Apple Pencil by swiping away a little under Rs 1,20,000. And since you’re spending Rs 8,600 on the Apple Pencil, you’d probably want to invest in a pouch as well. That way the Apple Pencil and the iPad Pro stay together.

  • Published Date: July 31, 2017 3:03 PM IST