I have been using successive generations of iPads in my litigation practice since 2010, so I was more than a little curious about the newest addition to the iPad family, the iPad Pro. Since my iPad 4 (on right above) was almost three years old, I was able to convince myself that I “needed” the Pro. I have now been using it on a daily basis for a little over four months and I really like it. This is one giant of a tablet dwarfing its predecessor the iPad Air 2 in size, power and yes, price.
The Technical Data.
The screen size is a huge 12.9 inches as compared to 9.7 inches for the iPad Air 2. This is a BIG difference. With 5.6 million pixels, the iPad Pro has the highest-resolution Retina display of any iOS device. The iPad Pro weighs in at 1.57 pounds and is 6.9mm thick. The brain of the tablet is Apple’s A9X third generation chip with 64‑bit desktop‑class architecture. Apple claims the A9X delivers up to 1.8 times the CPU performance and double the graphics performance of iPad Air 2. Unfortunately, as with previous iterations of the iPad, no USB port is provided. Adding a USB port would allow for external memory and physical data transfers, and would consequentially make the iPad much more lawyer friendly- maybe next time.
The iPad Pro comes in three colors: silver, gold and space gray. There are two memory levels 32 GB and 128 GB. I recommend passing on the woefully inadequate 32 GB model; akin to having a 5 gallon gas tank in a high-performance race car. You do have a real choice between the Wi-Fi only ($949) or Wi-Fi plus cellular model ($1079). Optional accessories include the Smart Cover ($59), the Smart Pencil ($99), and the Smart Keyboard ($169). Bottom-line: this tablet dressed up is pricey. For perspective, a loaded iPad Pro with a few accessories costs as much or more than a well equipped 13 inch Mac Book Air laptop.
I bought the Apple Smart Cover, but realized it offered little accidental drop protection. After looking at a variety of cases, I selected the leather Targus “VersaVu Rotating Case” designed for the iPad Pro ($69.00). I chose not to purchase an external keyboard, because I already have two that are compatible (Bluetooth) and the iPad Pro on screen virtual keyboard is large enough to be very usable. For those desiring an external keyboard, I am not enamored of the Apple Smart Keyboard with its membrane keys. Instead, I recommend the slightly cheaper Logitech Create ($149) keyboard for the iPad Pro. This keyboard has real free moving keys and is backlit. Additionally, the Logitech keyboard was designed in cooperation with Apple and uses the same iPad Pro smart connector mechanism as does the Apple proprietary keyboard.
If you already use an iPad Air in your practice, the experience with the iPad Pro will be similar, only bigger, bolder, sharper, and noticeably heavier. Sound quality is much improved, with four built-in speakers; one on each corner for a true quadraphonic effect. You can also have two apps opened on your screen at the same time, which you can also do with the iPad Air 2, only now you have enough screen real estate to make the feature useful. The electronic Apple pencil is also a big improvement over capacitive styluses. If you prefer taking handwritten notes, marking up documents by hand, or drawing diagrams, you will love the pencil.
While bigger is not always better; in the case of the iPad Pro it generally is. Not only is it a wonderful media consumption device, the iPad Pro’s large screen better accommodates the stubby fingers and aging eyes common in lawyers of a certain vintage. It is a great platform for reading documents because pages are displayed at full size or larger; great when doing markups with the Apple pencil. On the downside, the iPad Pro is just a little too large and too heavy to use comfortably on a treadmill, exercise bike, or hold up while reading in bed.
I have not yet had the opportunity to use the iPad Pro is a hearing or trial but I have tested out the mirroring capabilities of the Pro for presentation use and display quality using the lighting-VGA dongle, apple TV and the reflector app. The display quality is comparable to that of the IPad 4 I had used previously.
I really enjoy using my iPad Pro. However, it is essentially a really big iPad Air 2 with a few added bells and whistles that come at a hefty price premium. A “nice to have” versus “must have” if you already have an iPad Air.