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article imageiPad Pro — Beefing up an alternative to PCs, or more hype?

By Paul Wallis     Nov 13, 2015 in Technology
Sydney - If you know anything at all about basic iPads, you’ll know they have a lot of processor grunt, and lousy, expensive, limited memory. The iPad Pro is being touted as the end of the PC by Apple CEO Tim Cook, but is it?
On specifications, the iPad Pro has all the usual shortcomings of the basic iPad, but is otherwise a leap upwards and a pretty tolerable attempt at new advances. It’s very visual, with good, cranked-up resolution and some obviously new features, notably the purely mobile stuff.
If you need it for work, it can do some things but not others. I’ve seen people very happy with their iPads on the job, doing sales rep work and other core business. I also met a lady with a sheaf of paper doing grocery work while other reps were using pads of various kinds. I asked her why she wasn’t using a tablet, and she said, “Too easy to steal.”
It’s not a PC, however. That’s actually rather strange. I’ve done a lot of stuff on iPads over the years, including reading the interview with the engineers who put together the original iPad. They did an excellent job of packing in all the technologies, and added the very high grunt processors which are the working innards of the iPad’s excellent performance.
So — why doesn’t the iPad Pro have the added memory and other features? Dinky little screens or no, the problem is that this thing really can’t be used like a PC. 128 GB of memory is nothing, these days. The average PC is up to 10TB, and very high RAM speeds; the 32GB size is just a snack.
The “epic” 12.9” screen is another irritant. Some people need screen space. For all the hype about “mobile friendly,” small fonts, icons, and “guess what this 5 point font is all about” hardly equates to a great onscreen experience.
The irony is that with that extra grunt, the iPad species really is geared for excellent performance. It’s far more powerful than most notebooks and tablets, and compares well with most laptops. It’s hardly a major leap of logic to see iPads becoming the do-everything tools they could be.
Media skeptics are asking the same question in various forms. When Cook says, “…replace the PC,” he means desktops in general. Nobody’s arguing with “better, smarter, faster,” but this choke chain of a hard drive capacity isn’t helping his argument.
To be fair, the Apple blurb isn’t all about “Ain’t we great?” To go with the Pro, they’ve also introduced a new Pencil, and something called Procreate (who makes up these names?) and there’s a definite hint of more new tech coming in some undefined form. Styluses had a bad reputation in their earlier incarnation,
To be strictly fair, a leap up to a high memory OS, preferably at a bearable price, could involve significant retooling. It’s not that simple. The next horizon for personal computing needs to be a big quantum leap, and it needs to be done properly. Quality control, idiot-proof design, and above all, able to run anything and everything add to the mix of issues.
That said — if iPad can deliver a really efficient, cost-friendly, product that addresses daily personal and business needs, it’s a serious challenge to the status quo. It’s also likely to be very productive in terms of “enforcing innovation” — as distinct from the current comatose condition of little added bits and pieces, a real new approach.
The original iPad was a significant production design achievement. It packed a lot in to a very small space, very efficiently. That’s the kind of thinking need to create a real contender to the PC, and it can be done.
Footnote: It’s nice to have something positive to write about Apple for a change. Between hideous tales of workplace issues and bizarre events like the six schoolkids kicked out of the Apple Melbourne store, (about which I’m still fuming) 2015 hasn’t been a great year for Apple news. How about getting back to what made you famous, Apple, and losing the “corporate normal” stuff?
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