iPad Pro Review: Bigger Isn't Always Better - InformationWeek

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Mobile // Mobile Devices
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11/29/2015
12:06 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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iPad Pro Review: Bigger Isn't Always Better

Apple's professional-grade tablet is a massive slate that may replace a laptop for some -- but definitely not all -- mobile professionals. Here's a look at where the iPad Pro rises to the occasion and where it falls flat.
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(Image: Eric Zeman)

(Image: Eric Zeman)

The iPad Pro is a brand-new tablet from Apple. And it's bigger, faster, and more powerful than any previous iPad. Apple claims this device can handle the workload often reserved for laptops. While it can, to a degree, there are a number of aspects holding it back from productivity nirvana.

I am an iPad fan. I've used an iPad every day since the first-generation iPad arrived in 2010. My current tablet is the iPad Air 2 with LTE, which, as far as I am concerned, is about the most portable and powerful computer available (when paired with a Bluetooth keyboard). I put the tablet to use in many different ways, whether it's catching up on email, browsing the web, watching movies, playing games, or, yes, doing my job.

[See Surface Pro 4 Vs. iPad Pro: High-End Hybrid Showdown.]

The iPad is my preferred computing device, but it's not perfect. There are definitely instances when I require a laptop and, I'm sorry to say, the iPad Pro does not change that equation.

Even so, the hardware is fantastic. Apple designs the most attractive and highest-quality tablets in the market, and the iPad Pro is its piece de resistance.

I delve into several aspects of the slate, including an up-close look at its hardware, software, screen, buttons, controls, app compatibility as well as my biggest complaints.

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Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio

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Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Ninja
11/29/2015 | 10:47:03 PM
Bigger is not always better
I am noticin the growing trend of larger screens, whereas a few years back, the trend was smaller and more compactive devices. I am an iPad fan, but won't purchase the iPad Pro on the size alone.
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
11/30/2015 | 12:55:20 PM
Size and apps
I agree that there comes a point when something is too big to be a "tablet." The iPad Pro seems to fit here.

My biggest beef with iOS and why I believe that is the big limitation that will stop the iPad Pro from truly replacing laptops, is that it is app-centric and not file-centric. Everything is encapsulated within apps. To move content from one to another you still have to jump through hoops to open-in or use a cloud sharing service as a go-between. For me, and maybe only me, that is one of the biggest limitations of iOS versus a full computer/notebook OS.
SKDEV
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SKDEV,
User Rank: Moderator
11/30/2015 | 3:28:48 PM
There are some good use cases for larger iPad
I found an app that allows me to use my iPad as an external monitor using the usb 3 cable on my macbook pro. I was very pleased when i discovered that it also worked when using VMWare running Windows 7 Professional.

This gives me a whole new perspective on the iPad Pro. It can act as a tablet, a mobile external monitor, an adjunct device for reference all while you're on your laptop, an artists drawing board, a software designers drawing board, reviewing and marking up documents using the pencil, and then on top of that, if you need to go to a meeting, just grab the iPad and the pencil and off you go. 

To me this spells mobility, power and convenience. Incidently, the app has both Windows and OSX clients, so you're not restricted to just one OS for your laptop. I'm not sure if i can mention the product name on here, so will refrain from doing so.

 

 

 

 
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
11/30/2015 | 7:13:57 PM
Re: Size and apps
@jagibbons: Preach!

My fear is that, rather than sensibly installing OSX on enterprise-grade iPads, Apple will replace OSX with iOS.

"Consumers" and enterprise/power users are different!
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
11/30/2015 | 7:15:01 PM
Re: Bigger is not always better
@Angel: Yes, smaller was better until companies began to realize that nobody over 35 could read the screens!
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
11/30/2015 | 7:30:20 PM
Re: Size and apps
Even when using my iPad for media consumption, it is clear that I could never replace my Windows laptop. Unless I'm only traveling for a day or two, I need my laptop to get real work done.
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
11/30/2015 | 7:31:48 PM
Re: There are some good use cases for larger iPad
That is a viable use case, but not worth the cost of the Pro in my opinion.
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
12/1/2015 | 12:43:22 PM
The iPad I've been waiting for
Almost all the negatives here are not directly on the iPad Pro but iPad's in general.  Take these out and you're down to one or two.  The Gmail app doesn't work right, so what, the Apple mail app works just fine to retrieve all my mail, work and personal.  Google docs don't work right, so what, MS Word & MS Excel work just fine.  I'm having a great time using my iPad Pro as a laptop combined with a third party keyboard case (which Best Buy gave me for free).  My Surface Pro 3 is now collecting dust in the corner.  BTW, who uses multi-tasking as a priority for Safari and Twitter?   It must be nice to have your productivity measured by internet surfing and tweeting.  How about a work document and email instead.   
ArchiveASIU
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ArchiveASIU,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/4/2015 | 11:16:45 AM
iPad Pro is just OK for me
Nice review Eric!

I don't really have hardware loyalty and love to try out new devices.  The iPad Pro is beautiful, but for efficiency and productivity at work it's just OK.  In all honesty it's a Surface 4 wanna-be, just not quite as good.
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
12/4/2015 | 12:59:24 PM
Re: Size and apps
Yes, the file system (IMO, one of iOSs major weak points), and simply a mobile-touch interface vs the keyboard mouse (laptop/desktop) interface. These are just too fairly different UX paradigms that shouldn't really be mixed unless you're going in realizing you're going for a compromised (prodictivity wise) device for some trade-off that's worth it to you.

I spent about 2 years using an iPad only for mobile (iPad 2 in my case). While a lot has improved since I did that... and my work as changed (forcing me to a laptop), I still think I have a pretty good handle on the reality of the situation. It isn't so much about what can be done, but about which is better for what use case and more productive, etc.

IMO, Microsoft made the mistake of trying to mix the two too much. Apple took the right path in keeping two distinct OSs accessing the same data as much as possible. I am concerned Apple is moving more in Microsofts (so far failed) direction, which has me nervous. (I especially say this in light of OS Xs seeming decline in quality and advancement, and Apple's move out of serving pro markets.) As an Apple evangelist of over 30 years now, this is the first time in Apple's history where I'm starting to get worried about their future.
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