Apple iPad Pro + Apple Pencil: Aussie Hands On

Apple iPad Pro + Apple Pencil: Aussie Hands On

Nothing will ever feel as big as the new iPad Pro. Nothing. Why is it so huge and why do I love it so much? Tell me why.

Do you remember when you picked up the iPad for the first time to look at it? Like the very first time. I’m not talking about the iPad Air 2 or whatever the latest new one you held was. I’m talking about the very first one.

The first time I saw it I was in my old job, and the guy across from me bought one and was so smug about it. I got hands on and it blew me away. Of course, the original iPad looks practically prehistoric compared to the lightning performance and design of the new models.

Despite the new tech built into subsequent iPads, however, none of them have managed to re-capture that feeling of wonder you had when holding this massive new piece of tech.

In fact, since then, phones have got bigger and bigger and really made us wonder why we’d ever need an iPad again. iPad revenues have been declining for Apple, and it needed to do something big to recapture people’s imagination.

Apple’s designers took that a bit literally, and came up with an iPad that features a massive 12.9-inch screen. Holy JESUS it’s big, and it represents the best thing that has probably happened to iPad since the first one came out: it delights, bewilders and baffles you at how good it feels to use.

It makes you feel like you’re using an iPad for the very first time all over again. You’ve never felt something so big be so elegant.

The iPad Air 2 impressed us because it was finally a device meant for reading, note taking and gaming that was thinner and lighter than a book or magazine could ever be. That experience has translated to the iPad Pro: it’s massive, but it’s so light and streamlined that you feel it could replace everything you currently use. It’s more convenient than your tablet, smarter than your A4 notebook and more beautiful than your current iPad could ever be.

It really comes to life when you use split-screen multitasking and picture-in-picture movie mode in iOS 9, to be honest. It blows your mind when you see it working for the first time. It’s what the iPad should have always been.

The iPad Pro also sounds better than ever thanks to four speakers spread around the edges of the device. Pump up the volume and you’re blown away by the sound that’s blasted into your face from a tablet. It would be nice to see those speakers set to front-facing mode rather than oriented on the side of the device, but we can only ask for so much at one time it seems.

The new iPad Pro also comes with a swathe of funky new accessories, including a $US99 stylus called Apple Pencil and a $US169 keyboard cover that makes Microsoft’s Surface keyboard look like a hot mess.

The keyboard is actually very similar to the new keyboard on the 2015 MacBook. The mechanisms are incredibly similar, and it feels about the same to type on, to be honest. Limited travel on the keys, but with a softer click that feels better on your fingers. The whole keyboard is wrapped in a clever fabric which actually suspends the keys rather than have them build into a rigid deck. It all connects to your iPad via a new inductive magnetic connector on the side of the device.

The stylus — sorry, Apple Pencil — is also a pretty unique experience for iPad. It works beautifully with the new apps on iOS 9 (like Notes for example) to give you a great drawing and writing experience. With intelligent palm rejection (finally) and a screen area that feels like a solid replacement for an A4 notepad, the iPad is now the best note-taking device you’ve ever seen.

It’s also beautiful for drawing, too. The Pencil pairs over Bluetooth, and has a series of smart sensors built in that talk to the iPad Pro for to represent pressure and force to represent the type of stroke you want.

It’s weighty, and feels like a really high-quality sketching pencil you’d get from an art supplies store.

An accelerometer in the pencil figures out which way you’ve oriented the Pencil, too. Point it straight up and down and you’ve got a fantastic drawing device. Hold it to the side and start drawing with the edge of the tip, however, and the Pencil recognises you want to shade instead of draw straight lines. It really is incredible.

The end of the Pencil is perhaps slightly wasted. Underneath the end cap is a Lightning connector so you can charge it, but wouldn’t it be cool if that was your eraser? Instead, you just have to select a tool with which to erase your work. Lame.

Either way, the iPad Pro is the new standard for smart working on the go thanks to multi-tasking, a smarter keyboard and iOS 9. It’s also probably the last word in portable entertainment with its enormous screen and four-speaker array. What an insane piece of tech.

Luke Hopewell travelled to San Francisco as a guest of Apple.

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