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Hands on: The iPad Pro -- It's a laptop! It's a tablet!

Ken Mingis | Nov. 13, 2015
Deciding whether Apple's new super-sized tablet suits you really depends on how it'll be used.

So I hit the iPad Pro's power button and waited. When it awakened from sleep a little while later, the charge had risen to 57%. Progress. In other words, it charges very s-l-o-w-l-y when in use -- especially during a backup restore.

Although the iPad Pro has a larger battery (because the case has more room), that battery is also running a more powerful processor than in earlier iPads and it's got to handle a bigger screen. In this case, a bigger battery in a bigger tablet with a bigger screen yields about the same battery life as the smaller iPad Air 2. That should be  plenty for most users.

Surprisingly, the 12-watt plug-in wall charger that comes with the iPad Pro is the same one the iPad Air 2 gets.

Video, audio and the cameras

Although the iPad Pro is likely to end up in a lot of workplaces, it's also a fabulous option for "content consumers" -- people like me who plan to use it to read, watch videos and listen to music. Video playback is as flawless as it gets on the Retina display, whether watching videos stored on the device itself or streaming over services like Netflix.

Better yet, the iPad Pro comes with not one, not two, but four speakers, allowing for a level of clarity and volume tablet users aren't accustomed to. Two of the speakers are located on either side of the Home button at the bottom of the iPad Pro when it's held vertically; two are located at the top. Not only can you fill a room with whatever you're listening to, but the quality of the music is rich and warm. I fired up my Buena Vista Social Club album and was impressed with the sound separation and how good the guitar work sounded.

My partner offered a one-word summation of the speaker setup: "Bose!"

As for cameras, there are two: an 8-megapixel, rear-facing iSight camera that can shoot 1080p HD video, and a 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera that does 720p video. The latter is fine for Facetime video chats; the former is very good, but not top-end, for quick photo-taking on the go. (The iPhone 6S has a 12-megapixel camera, for comparison purposes.) There's no flash, but the rear camera can shoot slo-mo video at 120 frames per second. You're not likely to need it often, but in the rare event you want something in slow-motion -- and the only camera nearby is your iPad Pro -- it'll do nicely.

There's more -- and less

For connectivity, the iPad Pro has a modern retinue of wireless options, including 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology and MIMO, which Apple says allows download speeds of up to 866 Mbps when connected to an 802.11ac network; it also supports 20 LTE bands and up to 150 Mbps transfer speeds on LTE. The iPad Pro also boasts a better on-screen keyboard that gives you more options.


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