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Saturday September 3, 2016 9:38 am

Bleeding Edge TV 585: iPad Pro 9.7-inch Review

Apple released a new, 9.7-inch version of the iPad Pro two weeks ago. It’s an effort to reinvigorate tablet sales, while offering additional features not ever seen on a tablet before…but is it worth your money? In this episode I explain why this is one of the best tablets you can buy.

My final verdict? If you’re in the market for a new tablet, it’s hard to go wrong with choosing the iPad Pro 9.7 inch if you don’t need anything bigger. Forget about the Pro moniker, and just enjoy it for what it is - the best tablet that Apple has ever made. You can pick up the iPad Pro 9.7-inch model starting at $599 for the 32GB, $749 128GB, and $899 256GB if you want a Wi-Fi model. If you want a cellular version, those are  $729 for 32GB, $879 for 128GB, and $1029 for 256GB.

You can pick up the iPad Pro 9.7-inch now.

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Video Transcript:

Apple released a new, 9.7-inch version of the iPad Pro two weeks ago. It’s an effort to reinvigorate tablet sales, while offering additional features not ever seen on a tablet before…but is it worth your money? In this episode I explain why this is one of the best tablets you can buy. Stay tuned.

Hey guys, welcome to Bleeding Edge TV - this is the show that bring you news and reviews through the eyes of Gear Live.com. My name is Andru Edwards, editor in chief of GearLive. Today as I mentioned in the beginning of this video, I’m gonna be bringing you my full review of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, which was released just a couple of weeks ago by Apple. However, I’m gonna be doing this review a little differently - this is going to be a deep dive look at all aspects of this tablet. This is actually going to be a Peel. Basically, I’ll go into all the different layer of the iPad Pro 9.7-inch model, and this video is made in collaboration with ProductPeel.com, which will allow you to join in with me and incorporate your thoughts and opinions on this device as well. You can find out more at ProductPeel.com - the site is invite-only right now, but I have a bunch of invite codes - hit the link below and I’ll get you in. Now, let’s Peel the iPad Pro.

HARDWARE
This is my multi-part series looking at the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro. Be sure to check the playlist for the other parts that cover display & sound, performance & battery life, unboxing, and accessories! In this portion, we’re focusing on the hardware.

Apple unveiled the iPad Pro at a recent event where it also released the iPhone SE. Both devices actually have a similar philosophies. The take the power found in the larger form factor, and shrink it down to fit into a more manageable size for portability. In other words, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro take the A9X chipset found in the larger model, and brings it to the smaller form factor. You also get the four-speaker configuration from its larger sibling, rather than the two speaker setup found on previous models, with a thin form factor, measuring in at 6.1mm and weighing 0.96 pounds.

What you don’t get is the 4GB of RAM found on the original iPad Pro. With the 9.7-inch model, you get 2GB, which is the same as what you’ll get if you pick up an iPad Air. In my findings, though, the difference is very negligible for almost all users.

In some ways, the smaller, newer iPad Pro is more impressive than the larger model, so let’s peel into those differences. For starters, it has the 12-megapixel rear camera with f/2.2 lens that you’ll find on the iPhone 6S. It’s the best camera Apple has ever put into a tablet - although, as with Apple’s flagship smartphone, you’ll get the antenna bump on back - but seriously, it isn’t a big deal at all. The plastic LTW band that’s been a mainstay since the original iPad is gone on the smaller Pro, replaced by iPhone-like antenna bands.

As far as the rest of the device from a hardware perspective, you get the power button up top, the three-pin Smart Connector on the left for accessories, and a 27.5Wh battery on the inside.

There’s a lot of power here, and as such you can expect to pay a premium. The iPad Pro starts at $599 - that gets you 32GB of storage and Wi-Fi connectivity. There are also 128GB and 256GB models as well, which cost an extra $150 and $300 respectively. Add cellular capabilities, and you add another $130 to the price. The ones I am testing are a feature-packed rose gold LTE model with 256GB of storage, which retails for $1,029, as well as a space gray 128GB LTE model which sells for $879. Big shout out to AT&T here in Seattle for sending over the space gray unit that we’re using for comparison.

As you can see, you get two choices of color for the front of the device - if you choose gold, rose gold, or silver, you get a white bezel on front. If you want the black bezel instead, you have to opt for the space gray color. Also you’ll notice that the antenna band at the top has changed from previous iPads, where it was a big plastic slab. The bands are made to compliment the color of the iPad - on these two you see that it’s white on the Rose Gold color, while it’s gray on the space gray AT&T model.

DISPLAY AND SOUND
Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat. The display on the iPad Pro is amazing. I’ll Peel into this further in order to explain why I love this screen so much. It’s a 9.7-inch LED Retina display with a 2048 x 1536 resolution, matching the resolution of all the previous 9.7-inch iPads with Retina displays. That’s down from the 2732 x 2048 resolution of the larger iPad Pro, but it’s the same pixel density. What’s changed is that you now get support for the P3 color gamut, which is a standard that can show 25% greater color saturation and is used widely in the cinema industry. It’s the same spec that can be found on the newest 4K and 5K iMacs.

The display is also brighter by about 100 nits, which makes it better when in direct sunlight - speaking of which, Apple says that they’ve also made the screen 40% less reflective, which is another nice touch for anyone who likes to use their iPad outdoors.

The final big feature added to the display on the smaller iPad Pro is True Tone. What this does is use the four ambient light sensors that are embedded into the front of the iPad, which allows it to recognize the color temperature of the light in the room or environment that you’re in. Then, the display will match that color temperature in order to make it look more natural. The idea here is that if you take a white piece of paper into a room with more yellowish light, the paper will take on a yellow hue. If you take that same piece of paper into another room with bright fluorescent lighting, it will take on a more blueish tone. This is what the display on the iPad Pro does. Of course, you can toggle this off if you are doing work that requires accurate color representation, like image editing or color grading. For all other times though, it’s a nice feature to have, and does make a genuine difference as it pertains to eye strain.

As for sound, Apple has really nailed the concept of getting loud sound out of a thin tablet. They did it in the larger iPad Pro, and I was skeptical that it would be able to pull it off with less space, but they did. These speakers are just as loud and clear. You also get the same effect out of the four speaker array—that it, regardless of which way you are holding the iPad Pro, the top two speakers will handle the highs and mids, and the bottom two speakers will handle the lows, and it’s that separation that sets the iPad Pro sound experience apart from the rest of the pack in the tablet world. Whether you are watching a video or playing a game, the speakers succeed in immersing you in the experience.

PERFORMANCE AND BATTERY LIFE
Now let’s Peel into performance and battery life. At first glance, you’ll notice that the smaller iPad Pro that we are focusing on here has only half the RAM of its larger sibling, that being 2GB of RAM instead of 4GB. In fact, it’s the same amount of RAM that was found in the iPad Air 2. This may worry some people that there aren’t any gains in speed to be found here, but that just isn’t the case. We can credit the processing power to Apple’s A9X chipset, which makes the 9.7 inch iPad Pro almost as fast as its larger counterpart, and much faster than the iPad Air 2.

The 64-bit A9X chip is so powerful, that is allows the iPad to do tasks that only PCs could do, yet remains super efficient, doing its job without draining your battery.

If you’re just using one app at a time in order to check and send email, iMessages, Twitter and Facebook updates, and even things like photo editing, you are gonna feel the speed and not see any hiccups. In fact, even when multitasking with the Slide Over pane, or running two apps side-by-side in split screen felt great.

So what about more intense apps? Games like Warhammer 40,000 and AG Drive did their thing without a hiccup, and I even rendered a small 4K clip as well using iMovie, which processed faster than any other 9.7-inch iPad that Apple’s ever released. It’s such a big difference in power that it’s just plain noticeable. You get things done faster and more efficient and with less frustration.

Ok, so with all that performance power, you’re probably wondering “what’s up with that battery tho?” Apple has always prided itself on saying that every iPad it has ever released gets a minimum of 10 hours of battery life. The iPad Air 2, iPad mini 4, and iPad Pro 12.9-inch each beat this mark (and actually, the iPad mini 4 obliterated it) - unfortunately with the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, I was only able to get about 9 hours and 30 minutes out of the battery with my testing method of playing back to back HD videos nonstop with the screen set to 50% brightness. Now don’t get me wrong, that is still a lot of screen on time, and personally isn’t a big deal to me, but it’s still something that should be noted.

Luckily, not everyone uses their iPad for hours-long Netflix sessions, and when using it normally for things like email, YouTube, music streaming, gaming and all that, the iPad Pro would last me three or four days before needed to be charged up again.

CAMERAS
To touch on the cameras a bit, Apple has brought its best cameras to the iPad Pro. What I mean by that is, on every other iPad model ever released, Apple has always fitted them with previous-generation iPhone cameras. With the iPad Pro 9.7-inch model, it gets the same 12 megapixel iSight camera that you will find on the current iPhone flagship iPhone 6S, which can capture 4K video, 240 frame per second slow motion, and Live Photos. It’s also the first iPad to ever feature a flash - in this case, it’s the True Tone flash, also taken from the current iPhone.

Around front, it’s the same thing. The iPad Pro sports a 5 megapixel FaceTime HD camera, with Retina Flash with True Tone. That just means that it uses the screen itself to act as the flash, and the true tone means it will use jus the right color of light to match your environment and keep things looking natural. These are the best cameras to ever ship on an iPad, they’ll capture videos and photos at just as high a quality as the newest iPhones, and that means Apple is going all in on tablet photography.

ACCESSORIES
Now let’s Peel into the accessories that make the iPad Pro an iPad Pro. Obviously, Apple products have a huge accessory ecosystem, especially iOS devices. Instead, we’re focusing specifically on the two Pro accessories that Apple makes for the iPad Pro line. The Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard. Let’s start with the Pencil.

The Apple Pencil works just as nicely on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro as it does on the 12.9-inch model. In fact, for someone like me who isn’t an artist by any stretch of the imagination, I find that the Apple Pencil works better for me with the smaller Pro tablet because it feel closer to a piece of paper and less like a canvas, almost like carrying around a clipboard. If that’s you, then you may find the same. If you’re an artist who loves to draw and wants as much space as possible to do it, then the larger device may be more your style. The Apple Pencil sells for $99.

Then there’s the Smart Keyboard. Since the iPad itself is smaller, Apple released a smaller Smart Keyboard for the iPad Pro 9.7 inch model, which makes sense. However, this means that the keys and overall space on the keyboard is smaller, making it more cramped to type on. This was my biggest fear about this iPad Pro, because I love the Smart Keyboard experience on the larger model, and I didn’t want something that would be uncomfortable. Luckily, it just took a minute or two before I was flying on the smaller keyboard. From a mechanical perspective, the devices are the same - they connect to the iPad Pro by way of the Smart Connector on the left side of the device, which feeds power to the keyboard. In fact, to prove that they are exactly the same, I was able to use the smaller Keyboard with the larger iPad Pro, and the larger Keyboard with the smaller iPad Pro with no problems. Of course, it did look fairly ridiculous. But, it’s an iPad hack - if you want a fuller keyboard for the smaller iPad Pro, but the more expensive and larger keyboard. Alternatively, if you have a larger iPad Pro and wanna save some money on the Keyboard, buy the smaller model! The Smart Keyboard sells for $149 for the smaller iPad Pro, and $179 for the larger model.

WRAP UP
So, there you have it! We’ve peeled through the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro, taking a deep-dive look at the hardware, and how it fits into my everyday lift based on my usage patterns. I’d love to hear about your thoughts in Apple’s flagship tablet, and you can do that over on ProductPeel - I’ll leave a link in the description below. It’s invite-only currently, but I’ve got invite codes to get you guys in so you can share your perspective as well. Of course, feel free to ask me any clarifying questions about the iPad Pro on Product Peel as well. My final verdict? If you’re in the market for a new tablet, it’s hard to go wrong with choosing the iPad Pro 9.7 inch if you don’t need anything bigger. Forget about the Pro moniker, and just enjoy it for what it is - the best tablet that Apple has ever made.

You can pick up the iPad Pro 9.7-inch model starting at $599 for the 32GB, $749 128GB, and $899 256GB if you want a Wi-Fi model. If you want a cellular version, those are  $729 for 32GB, $879 for 128GB, and $1029 for 256GB.

Be sure to hit the like button if you enjoyed this deeper dive style video, and maybe will start Peeling more devices for you guys in the future to really give you a strong sense of their actual capabilities and how they fit into every day lift. If you’re new here, or you just haven’t done it yet, feel free to hit the subscribe button in order to be notified when we release a new review, unboxing, tutorial, Peel, and the like. It’s free, and it helps us out more than you know. Thanks a lot for watching as always guys, your support means a lot. I’m Andru Edwards, and I’ll catch you in the next video.

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