My first Apple tablet was the iPad 2, and since then, my family and I have been steadily adding these tablets to our arsenal of technology. Now, each member of the family has their own iPad. When it comes time for an upgrade, we play musical chairs and the displaced device gets passed down to the next in line. My son just inherited my iPad Air, and I am the proud owner of the new iPad Pro.
The iPad Pro was introduced as a 12.9” screen model back in November, and with it being the largest iPad ever offered, it was touted as a desktop replacement. With a bigger screen, it does outsize some of the smaller laptop displays available, and the slim form factor and low weight of the device might make it an option for a laptop replacement. Another factor that might contribute to Apple’s boast is the added functionality of the Apple Pencil, the optional stylus that adds a bit to the tablet experience. With pressure-sensitivity, sketching or drawing on the iPad becomes quite lovely and handwriting is a pleasure to perform.
What gave me pause on the larger 12.9” form factor is HOW light and fragile it seems. I was able to play with one when it came out and I felt uncomfortable holding it. With this in mind, I opted to adopt the new 9.7” iPad Pro that was released at the end of March. My previous iPad Air was just the right size for me to read everything clearly and holding it in one hand was no problem.
Some of the new features that the iPad Pro provides are quite useful, and the Pencil is front and center here, as it only works with both models of the iPad Pro. The Apple Pencil is a tad pricey at $99, but it works incredibly well with the iPad Pro. The Pencil connects via Bluetooth, and it charges with the Lightning connector. There’s one built-in (where an eraser might go) but plugging it in to your iPad in the Lightning port seems like a bad idea to me. Thankfully, it comes with an adapter to plug it in to a normal charger.
The new Smart Connector, a small row of magnets on the side of the device, allows you to connect peripherals like keyboards so that they don’t require a Bluetooth connection or batteries, drawing power off the iPad itself. Apple has opened up this tech to third-parties, and while I won’t be buying one of these keyboards, my hopes are that this tech is utilized for something more creative down the road.
As with any new iPad, Apple upgraded the processor. The new A9X is the most powerful tablet processor yet produced. They also put their 12-megapixel iSight camera in the new 9.7” iPad Pro and it makes a big difference. However, this also contributes to the unsightly “bump” on the rear-facing camera, which isn’t too noticeable when the iPad Pro is in a case, but it’s the same flaw the iPhone 6 revealed. This isn’t par for the course for Apple, in my opinion. Fashion before function seems to be fading in Cupertino.
While all of these neat new features are important, the one difference between my old iPad Air and my new iPad Pro that really caught my attention is the audio. The iPad Pro now has four speakers, one in each corner. This addition of two more speakers on the other side of the device augments the audio significantly. While it’s not the best way to listen to full spectrum music, it performs quite admirably for movies and casual listening, and in quiet places, negates the need for headphones.
The new 9.7” iPad Pro comes in both WiFi and cellular models, and with storage capacities of 32GB, 128GB, and 256GB. I opted for the 128GB model through Verizon Wireless, my cellular provider, and they have various promotions on the device, as do other retailers. If you prefer the larger 12.9” screen, I’ve seen some good deals on those too. Check around if you decide to make the plunge and move on up into a new iPad Pro.