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

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IoT
Mobile // Mobile Devices
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11/29/2015
12:06 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
Slideshows

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)

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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.
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!
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
12/4/2015 | 1:22:08 PM
Re: Bigger is not always better
Yea, I've just been arguing over the 4" iPhone rumors. One wouldn't think we should have to fight so hard to get a phone-sized-phone!

I think there are two drivers for that. First, there is a good use-case for bigger screens just having more screen-real-estate... which is generally a good thing until the trade-off gets too much for the device/use-case. And, in a global market, more people try to get more out of one device (as opposed to multiple complementary devices), so they are willing to put up with sub-optimal sizes for the benefits (ex: phablets).

But, there is also an odd trend of a kind of 'bigger is better' or spec-wars mentality that is just odd. I'm old enough to remember bag phones and rejoiced the day I got my first Motorolo flip-phone I could stick in my shirt-pocket. Now, it seems, we're moving backwards to phones that are no longer phones but small tablets with cellular capabilities. Since I have a tablet/laptop/desktop, I don't (nor want to) try and do all my work on a phone. It IS a support device for me, so I'd prefer smaller sizes.

I don't, in any way, disparage folks who want bigger devices. I'm just fighting this trend that seems to be saying phone-sized-phones are a thing of a past, and I just need to get on board with the 'trend.' No, I don't. There is no reason there can't be 4" phones, as well as 5"+ phones. Both have use cases, and there are substantial markets for each (if the makers just make both as options... hello Apple!).
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
12/5/2015 | 12:04:32 AM
Re: Bigger is not always better
It's easy to say than to do - the usability expert needs to figure out the "best size" for most of people.
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.
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!
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.
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
12/4/2015 | 1:12:25 PM
Re: Size and apps
That's my fear too, but in a bit different way. I don't actually want OS X on a mobile device. They are just completely two different UX paradigms. I suppose some kind of modal OS might work where it runs iOS when you're using it as a tablet... and then when you connect a keyboard and trackpad/mouse (it HAS to have that latter!!!) then it goes into OS X mode.

But, iOS is touch-driven. Once you're using it more like a laptop or desktop, this becomes a hinderance. You don't want to have to reach up to touch the screen while working from a keyboard. That's a productivity killer.

At the same time, trying to overlay a touch-interface on a desktop OS is also a kludge-job (that's why Microsoft failed).

But, I AM quite worried Apple IS on a path to ditch OS X eventually (despite what Cook says... his actions don't match) and make iOS the do-it-all OS. That might be good from a base level consumer point of view. iOS is pretty capable and certainly it (and the devices) take a lot of the complexity out of the mix. But, it just simply isn't a replacement, as you rightly point out. The question is whether Apple really cares about the power-users... they aren't nearly as big of piece of the pie-chart.
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.
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
12/4/2015 | 1:26:40 PM
Re: Size and apps
IMO, the iPad Pro is all about the pencil and sketching and such... maybe other certian vertical markets. I don't agree, at all, with Cook that it's a good PC replacement.

I've gone iPad only for a couple of years in the past. Since I don't do much sketching, and don't intend to try and make a tablet be my primary computer, I'd opt for an iPad Air 2 any day over an iPad Pro.
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
12/4/2015 | 4:41:07 PM
Re: Size and apps
That's the right message. There are just a few verticals that really make sense.
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
12/4/2015 | 5:47:45 PM
Re: Size and apps
I purchased one this week for our household. My inital thoughts are WOW it is huge. And Awkward. And I feel like it has an identity crisis - am I a notebook or a notePAD? More to follow...
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
12/7/2015 | 11:25:51 AM
Re: Size and apps
@vnewman2,

I'm in tune with your initial thoughts.... I think the Ipad Pro is more of a test for Apple to see if this sticks or not.

If we look at there current product portfolio, this falls in a very short space between an Ipad Air and a MacBook. It has sufficient horsepower to provide business professionals a good environment, but it doens't provide the experience that would make it a true replacement device.

I think Microsoft did a better job at distinguising it's Surface Pro 3. It's specifically aimed at productivity, where it's looking for people to use it sitting down in a desk (the fact that the can use it on the go is a plus). But where business users see it's real value is the space saving (it's like carrying around a portfolio).

I think the Ipad Pro will find an area where it'll be succesful, but I think it'll be more as an extension device to a MacBook and not as Ipad Tablet

 
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
12/7/2015 | 4:53:32 PM
Re: Size and apps
So after using it for a little over a week now, my thoughts are basically the same - it does take the place of certain laptop functions, but not all. It may actually prolong the replacement of my MacBook as I feel I can get by a little longer now with my old one. One interesting note - where I didn't have issues setting my old iPad out on a table while out to dinner (for my son to mess around on) - the size of the iPad Pro makes it really uncomfortable to do that. For lack of a better way to put it, the size is obnoxious in social settings, I think.
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
12/9/2015 | 1:18:42 PM
Re: Size and apps
@vnewman2,

Thank your for your comment and sharing your experience.

I think this aludes to what many have been voicing, that the Ipad Pro isn't really looking to replace existing Ipad users, but maybe provide that additional functionality that specific users (students, business areas) are seeking.

I definitly think the Ipad Pro will find it's market, but it might not be as massly accepted as consumers with Ipad. Like you said, the size itself will make it difficult for those carrying small bags (which wasn't a concern for regular Ipads)
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
12/9/2015 | 2:54:06 PM
Re: Size and apps
I will say this - it is definitely a conversation starter! 
MNotherday
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MNotherday,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/20/2015 | 12:42:28 PM
Re: Size and apps
vnewman2-I agree with some of many of the comments, but none completely. If that makes sense. As a college administrator (and no, unfortunately NOT one of the high paid ones!), my better half purchased a Pro for me after a promotion. Cost aside, I spent most of my time in meetings and on the run, so mobility is a must. I've been using an Air for that purpose, a MacBook Pro for more productivity, and a Mac-mini as an office computer both at home and at the college. I have been using the MacBook more and more, the Minis the least, and the iPad's the most. I keep the iPad Air for social gatherings (I even have an iPad Mini for real social, but must have for business discussion meetings), and now use the Pro for nearly everything else. I DO NOT use an external keyboard for it. If I am going to carry that much weight or need that kind of special power, the MacBook Pro is the choice. But it has been going out with me less and less. When I need to connect to office computers, I VM. I use the Apple suite of apps, but for work the Microsoft suite. When VMing, Word pops up a special glass keyboard with all the keys, including CNTL! For spreadsheets and other business needs, there is nothing I can't do on the Pro. I have to remember which device is the right "tool" for the job. And thanks to iCloud movement, all the data I work on is on every device, when and where I need it. The Pro, s perfect for what it does best. It is not a toy, bedroom, I front of the TV (I do), replacement for everyone. But is does replace the laptop for those who use a laptop to do the things Pro does best. Just MMHO, but wanted to agree the you and add some! Sorry so long! And it CERTAINLY is a conversation starter... :-)
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.

 

 

 

 
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.
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
12/4/2015 | 1:29:54 PM
Re: There are some good use cases for larger iPad
I've strongly considered that kind of setup. I currently have an iMac, iPad, and iPod touch (to be replaced with an iPhone if Apple ever gets a 4" phone out again!). I could probably do fine with a Macbook Pro and iPad using the iPad as extra screen space and be more mobile overall. That's a touch decision. :)
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.   
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
12/4/2015 | 1:14:57 PM
Re: The iPad I've been waiting for
Seems there is a theme there, and it isn't about Apple. :) Google sucks at UX. (That said, they've hired a very top UX person recently, so maybe things will start changing there?)
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Ninja
12/19/2015 | 9:40:54 PM
Re: The iPad I've been waiting for
@Joe S.,  Good point, time to take out the reading glasses! lol  However, they can just zoom in to magnify what's on the screen of the smaller devices.
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.
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
12/5/2015 | 8:52:02 AM
Another embarrassing Apple fail
Apple once again cannot produce enough product. I recently came across an iPad Pro commercial where it clearly states that delivery will be delayed due to product shortage. On top of that, the commercial was targeted at the German market and another note stated that the keyboard is only available with US layout.

So the company with the most cash on hand in the entire universe shows again how utterly inept it is when it comes to execution. Yes, it might be some marketing gag to suggest shortages giving the illusion that the product is in high demand, but since a decade Apple products are in high demand. By now Apple should have figured out how to add another few thousand lowly paid Chinese to glue the iPads together. The failure to do just that is just embarrissing. I have no idea why nobody at Apple gets canned for that nor why Cook is still CEO being that inept in execution and why shareholders don't sell their stock given that Apple is apparently not interested in selling more product.

That the keyboard is only available with US layout is simply limitless arrogance, but that is typical for many US companies who never think about internationalization. Especially with a keyboard it is very easy to adjust to locales. Swap out the keys and handle the rest in software. Seriously? Apple is incapable of doing that? If they flub up something that simple I wonder what else they failed at. Given the price point of Apple gear it is not unreasonable to expect much better from them....and go to their web store, order an item, and have it delivered next day.

Odd that nobody covers that issue, are there that many that still think just because the Apple logo is on something it is automatically special?
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