Business Technology

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Apple's latest offering is smart, has a bigger screen and is so fast you may be at risk of motion sickness

Tech review: Apple iPad Pro 10.5 (€749)

Ipad Pro
Ipad Pro

It's been almost a month since I started using Apple's new 10.5-inch iPad Pro. I've noticed a few things immediately. First, it's noticeably quicker than the older iPad Pro.

Second, its larger screen makes a difference to multitasking: splitting the screen into two panels (a word processor on side and say, email or Safari on the other) is now my default setting. This helps productivity a lot.

This latter element probably helps the thing that Apple wants to promote most - the iPad Pro as a genuine laptop alternative for working people.

New features in iOS 11 are also expected to give this prospect a good shot. For example, you can now drag and drop files from one location to another.

Apple's new Files system also lets you change the way that you set up your workflow.

You can store and work with documents and images that are stored either locally on the machine or in commonly used cloud services, such as Dropbox, Box or iCloud Drive.

There's also a new customisable Dock that provides quick access to frequently used apps and documents from any screen.

However, iOS 11 won't properly be polished until September, so I'll leave those software upgrades until then.

The new tablet has a screen that is bigger by almost 20pc compared to its 9.7-inch predecessor.

Despite this, however, the overall size of the unit has only increased by 7pc.

Apple has done this by thinning out the bezels around the screen, meaning that you simply get more screen in proportion to the overall device size.

The screen is brighter and more intelligent at displaying colours and white balance arrays than previous iPads.

A higher refresh rate of 120Hz means that scrolling on the iPad Pro's screen seems considerably more fluid, with much smoother content motion.

This technology (which Apple calls 'ProMotion') also gives Apple's Pencil an extra edge, reducing its latency (the apparent time between the stylus tip touching the screen and registering a mark on the screen) to 20 milliseconds. This is faster than pretty much any other stylus system.

There is one funny little side-effect to the improved screen refresh rate that I hadn't considered before.

It's now so smooth and fluid that I sometimes perceive something approaching motion sickness when I scroll non-stop. It's a similar thing to wearing a VR headset for a while.

There is a newly-released (resized) Smart Keyboard to go with this iPad Pro. It's slightly bigger than the last one (for the 9.7-inch model) but I remain a fan. The only disadvantage is that it's not, for obvious reasons, backlit. That puts you at a disadvantage if using it in dark locations.

While I've never really appreciated a camera on an iPad, many people use it. So Apple has included the same camera system from the iPhone 7 into the new iPad Pro. That means a 12-megapixel rear lens and a 7-megapixel FaceTime selfie camera.

What I do appreciate (lots) is the excellent speaker system that iPad Pro models have come with. Like its predecessors, the new model comes with four speakers. This is more important than you'd think, especially if you like to use the device for a bit of Netflix, Sky Go or other streaming options.

As one might expect, Apple has added a bit more power to the engine under the hood. This comes in the form of an A10x processor, which it says delivers over 30pc faster performance than the previous iPad Pro machines. I definitely experienced this.

Alongside all of this is more integration with Apple's Pencil. Probably the most impressive new Pencil feature is the ability to scribble notes in an app such as Notes, close the app and then search for whatever you've scribbled in Spotlight later on. This is exactly the type of functionality that might make stylus sceptics reconsider the Pencil.

Like other iPads, you can get this one with or without a 4G service option. It starts at 64GB (€749 wifi-only) and goes up to 512GB of storage memory.

In a nutshell, this machine is getting a lot closer to the workflow stuff that regular laptops can do, as well as keeping its pacy, quickstart, 'always on' feeling.

For me, it's close to perfect. I've been something of a convert to pro-tablets for over a year as they facilitate quicker, better access to files and workflows than laptops in short bursts. They're also way more practical to transport.

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