Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Apple iPad Pro review - Thumbs down!

I've been testing the Apple iPad Pro 12.9 inch for the past several weeks and while I appreciate the incremental improvements, it's not worthy of a separate "Pro" model and the extra cost. The iPad Pro 9.7 brings even more enhancements but is still just an incremental upgrade to the iPad Air 2.

Hits:
  • Larger 12.9 inch screen. While not for everyone, it's great to have choice - small (7.9 inch), medium (11.7 inch) and large (12.9 inch).  While most apps aren't optimized for the large 12.9 inch screen, they are coming. Slide Over and Split View, introduced in iOS 9 provides multitasking capabilities and work great on the large 12.9 inch screen. 
  • Apple finally eliminated the base model with 16GB of limited storage and replaced it with 32GB.  I hope Apple follows suit with the new iPhone and also increases the paltry 5GB of free  iCloud storage.
  • Smart Connector.  While I'm not a fan of the Apple Smart Keyboard (there are much better and less expensive third party keyboards with backlighting and support for multiple screen positions), I am a fan of the new Smart Connector as it eliminates the need to charge a Bluetooth keyboard and it delivers "instant on" capabilities. 
  • Faster A9X processor, 4GB RAM (12.9 inch) and improved front and back cameras (9.7 inch).
  • Improved four-speaker design sounds great. 
  • Improved cameras. The iPad Pro 9.7 inch now has support for 4K video and an improved FaceTime camera

Misses:
  • Additional cost. Apple hasn't delivered enough enhancements to warrant the extra cost or the "Pro" moniker 
  • Too many models. Apple makes the iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 4 and iPad Mini 2.  Apple needs to consolidate and simplify the product line.  Why not just call it the iPad and make it available in three sizes?
  • Apple Pencil. There are plenty of excellent third-party styli and the Apple Pencil seems like an afterthought.  There is no eraser, no way to turn off the Apple Pencil to conserve battery life, no magnet to attach the Apple Pencil to the iPad for travel/storage and charging using the Lightning port is awkward.  However, it's unforgivable to ship the Apple Pencil without handwriting recognition in iOS.  The Apple Newton had this feature in 1993. 
  • Smart Keyboard.  Only one position and not backlit
  • Apple marketing.  Apple touts the iPad Pro as a Windows laptop replacement. Why isn't the iPad Pro also positioned as a Mac replacement?  The sad truth is that the iPad Pro isn't a replacement for a Windows or Mac PC for most users. 
  • Software. iOS hasn't been optimized for the larger 12.9 inch screen. Finally, Apple's focus on new hardware is overshadowing software and quality has suffered as Walt Mossberg and others have noted.

Like the original Microsoft Surface, I expect the iPad Pro to improve with future updates.


No comments: