It’s a familiar scene, the faithful lined up around the block to get the latest from Apple, eagerly waiting for the newest products. The iPad has been no exception, a slam-dunk that cemented the company's dominance since its 2010 launch. Following last year’s wild success of the oversized iPhone Plus, Apple is giving the supersize treatment to the iPad with the iPad Pro.
The iPad Pro is spectacular. Spectacular. It’s blazingly fast. And the screen is enormous. It’s nearly 80% larger than the iPad Air, with outstanding resolution. Despite the huge screen, the Pro weighs about the same as the original iPad, making it possible (even comfortable) to hold for extended periods. Watching movies or playing games is a fantastic visual experience on the Pro. With four built-in speakers, the Pro is the first iPad that doesn't require separate speakers to hear it clearly from across the room.
The big screen is great for work as well. With the Pro, spreadsheets and documents are larger, and a pleasure to read. If you’re a business type, the Pro could make your job much easier, or at least easier on the eyes. Photography enthusiasts and professionals alike will find light editing terrific on the Pro.
Accessorizing is more possible than ever with the Pro. Apple offers a keyboard case, which connects directly to the Pro without the need for Bluetooth—a nice touch. The keyboard is very good—the best I’ve used on an Apple product. For light editing it’s great. Another first with the Pro is an Apple Bluetooth stylus. It’s precise and accurate.
So—the iPad Pro is fast, has a huge screen, amazing resolution, you can hear it across the room, and even has a few new optional extras—all good. But, there are problems. Let’s start with the price: The entry level Pro costs $300 more than the entry level iPad Air 2—that’s a 60% price increase. For the vast majority, this is simply too much.
The biggest issue after price is power. Apple gives us a hint that we may need to keep the Pro plugged in by including a six-foot power cord—twice the length of cords on previous iPads. It turns out that gigantic screen is a gigantic drain on the batteries. I had a few hours to kill recently and managed to drain the battery from 80 percent to 15 percent in about 2.5 hours. I managed this by watching a movie while wearing headphones. It was an HD movie, and I was streaming it over Wi-Fi, but I had cellular turned off. So, long flights with no outlet? Not with the Pro.
And those accessories? Don’t bother. The keyboard offers no touchpad or mouse option. Without a touchpad, anything beyond creating small documents or spreadsheets is awkward at best. While artists may find the stylus a necessary tool, everyone else will end up throwing it in a drawer, never to be seen again. Fingers work fine on the Pro for almost everything.
The Pro also has its share of bugs. It is the first generation, so that's to be expected. I found several, but the most annoying was that sometimes after charging the Pro, it won’t turn back on. Several times I’ve come back to a dead iPad. Pressing and holding the power and home buttons for a few seconds will sometimes work, or unplugging and then plugging it back in seems to bring it back to life. This and other niggles will be fixed with iOS updates I’m sure.
The bottom line is that the iPad Pro is not worth it for most people. But, if you need that big screen and you want that Apple environment, the iPad Pro could be a good choice. The Pro is in a class by itself for viewing media and reading business documents. If you’re sitting in meetings and you’re beyond the age of 25 and your eyes aren’t 100%, the iPad Pro is wonderful. It’s also great to watch movies on—just settle in next to a power outlet, you’re going to need it.