Giant iPad Pro, Mini Review

"My God, it's full of stars! Or at least of Jupiter."

“My God, it’s full of stars! Or at least of Jupiter.”

I was going to head to my local Apple Store later this week to get enough hands-on time with the giant new iPad Pro to write a quickie review of it — but Sam Grobart already has all the review anyone needs.


The G550 is Mercedes’ uber-SÜV, one of the most sure-footed four-wheel-drive cars sold today. It has fully lockable front, center, and rear differentials for maximum traction over most any surface. If I were driving across, say, Chad, it is the vehicle I would want to be in.

I like cars, and I admire the G550. I can appreciate the engineering that went into making a car so capable. I also live in suburban New Jersey, and therefore have absolutely no need for a G550, even if I had the money to buy one.

That’s the Big-Ass Tablet for you, although that isn’t to say there’s no market for the thing:

So I’m not the customer for the iPad Pro. But I think I know who is: Vic Abate.

Vic Abate is the chief technology officer of General Electric. He heads up, among other things, 50,000 scientists and engineers at the industrial conglomerate. Could Vic see a way that the iPad Pro, armed with, say, some hardcore analytics software, might be a useful tool for all those people building power plants, locomotives, and aircraft engines? If he does, Vic’s not buying an iPad Pro. He’s buying 50,000 of them.

Graphic designers will go nuts for the iPad Pro, too. The Apple Pencil accessory is everything a Windows stylus should have been a dozen years ago, yet never has been — a stylus with zero lag and near-infinite flexibility as a drawing tool.

But for everyone else, the Pro is just way too much tablet to lug around.

More important than the device itself however may be the chip powering it, Apple’s new ARM-based A9X. John Gruber writes:

The iPad Pro is without question faster than the new one-port MacBook or the latest MacBook Airs. I’ve looked at several of my favorite benchmarks — Geekbench 3, Mozilla’s Kraken, and Google’s Octane 2 — and the iPad Pro is a race car. It’s only a hair slower than my year-old 13-inch MacBook Pro in single-core measurements. Graphics-wise, testing with GFXBench, it blows my MacBook Pro away. A one-year-old maxed-out MacBook Pro, rivaled by an iPad in performance benchmarks. Just think about that. According to Geekbench’s online results, the iPad Pro is faster in single-core testing than Microsoft’s new Surface Pro 4 with a Core-i5 processor. The Core-i7 version of the Surface Pro 4 isn’t shipping until December — that model will almost certainly test faster than the iPad Pro. But that’s a $1599 machine with an Intel x86 CPU. The iPad Pro starts at $799 and runs an ARM CPU — Apple’s A9X. There is no more trade-off. You don’t have to choose between the performance of x86 and the battery life of ARM.

Where will WinTel figure into a computer world gone almost entirely mobile and powered by ARM?

The iPad Pro won’t be a huge seller outside of its niche audiences, described above. But it’s a 1.6-pound harbinger of things to come.