A window into the world of augmented reality. Review of the new iPad Pro 11 (2020)

“Your future computer is no longer a computer, ” Apple says in an advertisement for the iPad Pro, clearly hinting that you no longer need a laptop. Just want to say that the call is accepted, but … wait a minute! We remember that this is not the first attempt to replace one with another. For several years now, Microsoft has been doing something similar with the Surface line, and Apple itself introduced the iPad Pro not yesterday. However, this year, a LiDAR scanner and a new dual camera were added to the tablet, as in the iPhone 11, plus they showed an incredible Magic Keyboard . But the main thing is that iPadOS now supports mouse and trackpad. How do you like it? Is it really time to throw away your home computer? Let’s find out!

What is the point?

For those who were not familiar with the 2018 model, I recall that this is the most sophisticated iPad in the Apple collection. The new model is no different in this regard. It is still available in two versions: with a screen size of 11 and 12.9 inches. Why do we start with this? Probably because any modern tablet is primarily a screen. Well, another frame, cameras, connectors and a couple of buttons, but the main thing is the screen.

So, the iPad Pro is still great. The 11-inch model, which was at the disposal of the editors, is equipped with a Liquid Retina screen with a resolution of 2388 × 1668 pixels. The image density is 265 ppi and seems small compared to smartphones (the same iPhone 11 Pro , for example, boasts a figure of 458 ppi), but in practice the picture is exceptionally smooth and pleasant. You can see individual pixels with the naked eye only by approaching the tablet point-blank.

In iPad Pro, the screen is located close to the outer glass and is coated with anti-reflective and oleophobic coating. Viewing angles are maximum – 180 degrees in any direction without uneven backlighting, color distortion and other artifacts. The screen refresh rate is 120 Hz, and this is gradually becoming the new standard for mobile devices. This is not to say that increasing the refresh rate has a radical effect on something, but the whole animation in the interfaces becomes smoother. I think that this is more relevant for Android, Apple devices have not had any problems with this.

There is no problem with calibration: the screen, as always, is perfectly tuned and displays the full color palette of the P3 space. So, iPad Pro can be used for professional color grading. Well, or as an external display for viewing photos during studio shooting. I’m not talking about more typical tasks: drawing, sketching, web surfing, watching movies and TV shows. Perhaps, we should separately mention TrueTone technology, without which not a single device from Apple can do today. It would seem a trifle – it only adjusts the color temperature of the screen to the current conditions of external lighting, making the picture a little warmer or a little colder. But with this trifle after the iPad Pro, you will be very uncomfortable looking at the screens of all other tablets.

Camera and LiDAR

Remember, about ten years ago in any city there were a lot of tourists with tablets? Fortunately, this fashion is gone – a modern tourist, and indeed any person basically shoots on a smartphone. He is small, he is always at hand – the tablet is clearly losing in this regard. Apple understands this very well, but for some reason they equip the iPad Pro with advanced cameras – as in the iPhone 11 (well, almost). It’s simple: the camera system is used not only for shooting, but also in augmented reality applications. Well, for this to work guaranteed to work as it should, next to the iPad Pro cameras is a LiDAR scanner.

The abbreviation stands for Light Detection and Ranging, that is, the detection and determination of range using light. Speaking scientifically, the technology allows you to receive and process information about distant objects using active optical systems using the phenomena of absorption and scattering of light in optically transparent media. Well, in the case of the iPad Pro, a scanner is needed to scan the surrounding area within a radius of 5 meters and build surface maps. In other words, the tablet “understands” which objects around you are closer, which ones further, it clearly assesses the distance between them and due to this it correctly displays objects of augmented reality. As a result, any application with augmented reality effects with lidar works better than without it.

You can see for yourself, now there are already enough applications with augmented reality in the App Store. I would advise you to pay attention to Complete Anatomy (a detailed and very convenient anatomical guide), IKEA Place (shows how the furniture will look in your apartment or house, and replaces a joint trip to Vilnius on the weekend), JigSpace (introduces you to the device of various objects – from a jet engine to coral reefs) and any of this collection of AR games (for those who remember what tamagotchi is, I especially recommend AR Dragon).

Having studied the built-in cameras of the iPad Pro, we can conclude that they are a little weaker here than in the iPhone 11, but still very good. The main module, apparently, is the same as in the iPhone , but there is no night mode. Everything else seems to coincide: a 12-megapixel BSI-CMOS-matrix, phase autofocus and optical stabilization – you can’t find fault with the quality of images in the daytime. The second camera has a wider viewing angle, lack of autofocus (its absence is not important in this case) and a reduced 10-megapixel resolution. I don’t know what exactly Apple wants to tell us with such a gesture, but we definitely like the option with the same camera resolution as in any device from the iPhone 11 family .

Trackpad Keyboard

But no matter how cool the new iPad Pro itself is, you can fully unlock the tablet’s potential only with the help of additional accessories. I would say that you probably need two of them: the Apple Pencil (for artists, designers, illustrators and other art guys) and the Magic Keyboard (for anyone who is actively chatting or seriously considering the tablet as a device that can replace a laptop). I must say that this is a very expensive pleasure. In the US, the Magic Keyboard costs $ 299 for the 11-inch iPad Pro and $ 349 for the 12.9-inch. How much it will cost with us, I still can not even imagine. In official retail, it can easily be twice as expensive.

However, the keyboard is cool. Firstly, it has completely uncompromising keys – large in size with a clear touch and even backlit. There will be no painful transition from the laptop. And if before that you had a MacBook , then consider that no transitional period will be required at all. Secondly, this keyboard has a built-in trackpad, and iPadOS has support for a cursor that changes shape, color and functionality depending on its position. The thrill of working with him is simply amazing – the magic of Apple in action. To all skeptics who think that the cursor cannot be reinvented, I recommend that you go to any store with a demo zone and work for iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard for at least five minutes, and then return home, move your mouse on your Windows computer and cry.

I almost forgot to say about the method of attaching Magic Keyboard to iPad with delight. There are several powerful magnets on the back wall of the tablet and the keyboard case, you just bring one device to another so that the unit with the camera gets into the corresponding cutout – and you’re done, the keyboard is connected and working. No pairing via Bluetooth, no operations with settings, and the tablet itself seems to soar in the air above the keys. But this was done not so much for beauty, but for a more stable position of the structure on the table. Is it comfortable to type in this mode? Highly! As comfortable as on a MacBook Pro . But if you prefer to write texts in the literal sense on your knees, then a laptop will still be more convenient.

Performance and uptime

At first, I was not going to mention performance at all, since any mobile device from Apple is always in the top league. And the thing is not even that the company has more powerful chips than Android (usually just the opposite), it’s about perfect optimization. It is curious that the new iPad Pro does not use the chip that is installed in the iPhone 11 (A13 Bionic), but the modified hardware base of the iPad Pro of the previous generation. It is called the Apple A12Z Bionic and contains an eight-core central processor, an eight-core graphics accelerator and 6 GB of RAM. The amount of permanent memory can vary from 128 GB to 1 TB, and this still determines the cost of the device. However, given the fact that the iPad supports connecting external drives, you can safely take the minimum version and live with it quite happily.

Apple claims up to 10 hours of battery life in Wi-Fi video playback, and this is very close to the actual results. True, if you unscrew the backlight to the maximum, then you can watch a movie for about 7 hours. But this is an excellent result: in real conditions, it is converted to a full day of work. And if the iPad is not the main, but an auxiliary device, then you are unlikely to have to charge it more often than once every three days: in standby mode, it almost does not consume energy.

What is the result?

For obvious reasons, Apple did not arrange any event with the announcement – the iPad Pro was presented quietly and suddenly. Instead of hourly broadcasting enthusiastic words from the stage, we just got a great product without any words. And you know what? It seems that this forced modesty only benefited him. It will sound loud, but before us is the best iPad in history.

Can he finally replace the laptop? On the whole, yes, even if not in all cases. For example, I lack functionality in existing photo editors – there is still nothing to replace full Photoshop. Well, for those who work with text (writes articles, columns, blog posts) iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard can easily do without a laptop. In most cases, artists can refuse not only a computer, but also Wacom tablets – and this is one of those cases where the rejection of more cumbersome equipment will allow a fair amount of savings, even if you take into account the insane cost of the keyboard and Pencil.

9 Total Score
Author rating

Apple has high expectations for augmented reality, so the iPad Pro could be an entry ticket to this world. Well, then all this will only accelerate: according to rumors, at the end of the year we are waiting for the iPhone 12 with lidar, and after a year and a half or two, Apple may release its own augmented reality glasses. And this is becoming very interesting. Google, if you remember, had a false start: its smart glasses were ahead of their time and were not needed by anyone, Magic Leap tried to bite off a too large piece of the pie and literally broke. It seems that Tim Cook and Co. are not at all embarrassed. Well, the more interesting it will be to follow Apple's next steps.

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