AMITIAE - Thursday 7 April 2016

9.7" iPad Pro Available for Thai Users

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers

iPad Pro

The 9.7" iPad Pro is now available for users in Thailand a week after it went on sale in the US and other major markets. I have been trying out this new iPad for a few hours. There is also a new, smaller Smart Keyboard to fit the device as well as other cases. The Apple Pencil works with this new iPad Pro and several apps have been optimised for this device.

It sometimes only takes a small change to alter the ways in which we work. What we are used to may not be the most efficient ways of working, but we compensate because we think it suits us.

A few months ago, I was surprised and pleased by the way the 12" MacBook slotted neatly into my workflow, despite its comparatively low-powered processor. Its fast SSD and good memory provision more than made up for this. With the access to many of my files via cloud services (Dropbox and iCloud), this was an easy choice most days.

Apple MacBook

I had been taking that to work on days when I wanted to run light. About the only limit was managing my website as I did not bother to install the software I would have needed: my decision.

Then the iPad Pro appeared and it was as useful as the MacBook despite not running OS X. Many pundits - particularly those who do not use Apple products and who had certainly not tried the iPad Pro - bought into the desktop strength argument: the iPad Pro was running iOS, ergo it could not possibly have the muscle to make it a real computer. The comments were absurd.

This argument was turned on its head by access to content and the availability of suitable apps, especially by hard-hitters like Microsoft, Adobe, Google and of course Apple. In the last few months, several articles have appeared with writers expressing surprise at how well the iPad Pro works. There have also been reports about illustrators who have switched, mainly because of the Apple Pencil which gives them the feel of paper, with just the right amount of surface friction.

I was pleased to see one of my students - a Mechanical Engineer - had bought the iPad Pro and she was using it in class last week, with the Apple Pencil.

9.7" iPad Pro - Image Provided by Apple

Apple recently announced the 9.7" version of the iPad Pro: a step above the iPad Air 2 in terms of power, it makes use of the features available in the 12.9" iPad Pro, but adds a few extras, along with the obvious benefits of portability. It inserts another option into the range of devices that users have available, providing a range of options to suit styles of working, preferred device sizes and purse. In my case the 12.9" iPad Pro slotted neatly between my 13" Mac Book Pro and the 12" Macbook I was using: itself a surprisingly nimble machine.

The new iPad is available in Thailand from today. Online ordering is operating, and I am told they should be in the shops tomorrow (Friday). Currently WiFi-only versions are on sale. Like the iPad Air 2 that arrived here in late 2014, the WiFi + carrier versions will come on sale when they receive approval from regulators.

The iPad Air 2 I bought in 2014 has the A8X processor, while the iPad Pro has the same A9X chip found in the 12.9" iPad Pro, although there is slightly less memory. A teardown of the device was carried out by iFixit recently and the components used (plus some useful comments) can be seen on that site.

iPad Pro This latest iPad has almost identical dimensions to the iPad Air 2, so is easy to handle. While it was possible to take pictures with the 12.9" model (especially if the keyboard stand was used), it was not really for photography, although its processing power means it could handle image editing and up to 4K video quite easily.

The new iPad has pretty much the same camera setup as is in the iPhone 6s (and 6s Plus). The iSight camera is 12mp while the FaceTime camera is 5mp. That iSight camera also has the TrueTone flash.

When I first saw the device, I was shown a couple of useful apps, including Scanbot that has a number of useful features including OCR and editing. I hope to look at this in depth soon. I also saw MyScript Smartnote that allows handwritten notes taken on the iPad with the Apple Pencil to be converted to text. In terms of potential (I either write on paper, or type in suitable apps) this is jaw-dropping.

The display has inherited some of the technology from the 12.9" iPad Pro including the variable refresh control system. The screen is brighter at a rating of 500 nits: one nit equals one candela per square meter (Webopedia). Reflections are reduced so visibility is enhanced, but this usability is enhanced by two other features: Night Shift and True Tone Display.

Night Shift was made available with the iOS 9.3 update and shifts the screen colours away from the blue end of the spectrum at night automatically. The specific times can be specified by the user. The True Tone Display is only available on this new iPad and adjusts the white balance depending on ambient light, so that the user has the optimum levels for reading.

There are 4 speakers like the 12.9" iPad Pro and as with that device, shift the balance depending on which two are at the top of the display when the orientation is changed (from portrait to landscape). With the smaller size they are slightly less powerful at 2x the level of the iPad Air 2 (the 12.9" is 3x). An initial try with a track from Joe Cocker: The Ultimate Collection suggests the output will be quite adequate.

iPad Pro

See also:

9.7" iPad Pro in Thailand: Open the Box

MyScript Smart Note: Usable Output from Handwritten Input using Apple Pencil on the 9.7" iPad Pro

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.



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All content copyright © G. K. Rogers 2016