On September 9th, Apple unveiled the long-awaited enormous iPad tablet. Because I do a large number of CLE and courtroom presentations, this larger tablet has been on my mind for quite some time. Running PowerPoint and trial presentation software from a laptop is sometimes a drag because a laptop is heavy and wireless presentations from a laptop aren’t ideal. Running presentations from a Windows-based Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is a little better, but few Windows programs or apps are touch-screen optimized, and wireless options aren’t very good. The iPad is great with apps like TrialPad and ExhibitView, but sometimes the size of an iPad is just a little too small.
This month, the iPad Pro will hit the market. It sports some pretty hefty features, not the least of which is a screaming fast A9X chip, which is almost twice as fast as the processor in the last iPad generation. It has a 12.9 inch screen, which makes it larger than the 12.0 inch Surface Pro 3. The keyboard is fantastic and doubles as a case, though is a bit expensive at $169. Perhaps one of my favorite features is the Apple Pencil for $99. For ages, I have complained that writing on the iPad is like writing with a flat tire. Finally, Apple created a pen that gives you the precision of a real-life writing utensil. This will make note-taking in Notes, Notability, OneNote, etc., an excellent experience, especially on a tablet the size of a piece of paper. I’m really looking forward to running all the amazing apps that I have been running on my regular iPad and iPad Mini on this beautiful 2732 x 2048 display (compared to 2160×1440 for the Surface Pro 3). The Apple library of apps is more mature than any other tablet on the market, especially for the legal market, where the iPad still has 85-90% of the market captured.
Other details include that for an additional $130, the 128 GB iPad Pro also ships in an LTE model (cell data for instant internet connectivity). The Surface Pro 3 is Wi-Fi only, which drives me bonkers. In fairness, the Surface Pro 4 will have an LTE option as well. The battery life is estimated at 9 hours, which is pretty fantastic. It never really is the stated amount on any device, but it is still considered best in class. The speakers are fantastic as well. Apple put two pairs of speakers on the iPad Pro. The weight is great at 713 g (1.57 pounds) for the Wi-Fi only model and 723 g (1.59 pounds) for the LTE + Wi-Fi. By comparison, the Surface Pro 3 is 790 g (1.76 pounds). Finally, the price is reasonable, starting at $799 without the keyboard and pencil, and $1,067 with the keyboard and pencil.
For creative types and people doing presentations, this is potentially an awesome device. It may be a luxury, but it is priced reasonably and is definitely another great tool to have in your toolbox. I suspect that this will serve another market as well … of aging eyes (like myself) where we may desire a larger screen. The only downside is its size. There is something to be said for being able to slide my iPad Mini in my suit jacket pocket, but for many other things, it is a trade-off.
Is it a replacement to/competitor to the Microsoft’s Surface Pro line? Some think it is, but I’m not so sure. In many regards, I think they are still very different. Yes, there are overlapping functions, but the iPad Pro still doesn’t have mouse support or full versions of Word, Acrobat, PowerPoint, etc., let alone many terrestrial programs like Worldox, Amicus Attorney, TimeMatters, PCLaw, etc. Stated another way, if I want to do hardcore word processing where I style out a document and generate a table of contents or a table of authorities, Word on any iPad, including the Pro, isn’t going to cut it. If I am using an Excel spreadsheet, I would rather stick bamboo shoots under my fingernails than manipulate a spreadsheet on any tablet without a mouse. However, if you are just doing simple drafting and editing, the iPad (or iPad Pro) is absolutely fine. I drafted this article on an iPad Mini with absolutely no problems.
At the end of the day, I don’t think the iPad Pro is for everyone, but for some, it is a real game changer. My recommendation is to go take it for a test spin at your local Apple store. See how you like it … and wait for more reviews on here and elsewhere. Don’t pre-order it. Let the tech geeks like me be the guinea pigs. It is a bit too expensive to go out and buy on impulse and then not use.