It was a relatively quiet fourth day in terms of work on the iPad Pro (hey, we writers have our quiet days, especially towards the end of the year), which meant that I could mess around with one of the features that is supposed to be a key selling point of the biggest iPad of ’em all – multimedia. So, well, I decided to dabble a bit with some high definition content and play a few games – the sort I usually play.
And well, interestingly the first thing that strikes you when you start playing a game – I chose the spooky Room 3, just for the record – on the iPad Pro is NOT the large display. I mean, yes, games do look utterly gorgeous on that massive 12.9-inch, 2732 x 2048 resolution display. But, hear me out on this, the first thing that really hit me when The Room 3 started was not just how good the game looked (perhaps I expected it to), but the SOUND. The iPad Pro comes with two sets of stereo speakers, giving it four speakers in all. And they are not spec sheet decorations either – the Room 3 is a very dark, atmospheric game in which every sound counts for a lot, and well, I normally played it with headphones firmly clapped over my ears to catch every clink and tinkle, but with the Pro, they were not necessary in a quiet room. The speakers were loud enough to overshadow the music from the speakers at Starbucks – I did turn them down when the staff gave me odd glances. It is not just volume, though – it is the sheer quality of the sound one gets.
In relative quiet environs, I could actually hear the key turning in the lock of a box in The Room 3, and while watching a football match on Star TV’s app, I actually was being able to hear the sound made by players’ boots hitting the ball – something I actually miss even on television. But then, I do watch television from a distance – the iPad Pro was just an arm’s length away. The closest thing I have experienced to this on a mobile device without headphones (gaming notebooks excepted, please) was perhaps with the Nexus 9’s front facing speakers, but even they did not have this quality. No, I am not saying audiophiles will love to listen to music over it but someone like my mum simply said that stuff sounded better on the iPad Pro as compared to her television, which she found a bit “noisy.”
And then of course, there is the little matter of videos. The display handled pretty much every video I threw at it with a modicum of ease. And yes, I could watch a video in a small corner of the display while I was working away on something else – I just wish the Star Sports supported that as it would let me work and keep track of how Liverpool at doing at the same time. But well, that’s pretty much expected – even the iPad Air 2 was able to do that. But where I got a bit of a surprise was in the video editing department – I am not an expert in the area, but a friend of mine works in an ad agency and was working on a film project for a client. For a brief while, he transferred his project to the iPad Pro and for half an hour was editing video on the device using iMovies. And well, I am not a video editing person, but let me put it this way: for the first time in my life, I actually felt that editing video was not the hefty task it was made out to be (alas, I cannot share images of him working on the videos but am taking lessons and will hopeful have some to share when we post the full review in the coming days).
At one stage, he was watching two clips simultaneously and tweaking them, and there was no lag, no slowdown. My friend said that when it came to video editing, the iPad Pro was a clear notch ahead of the iPad Air 2 in terms of speed – it certainly looked very fast indeed. Just for kicks, I took the iPad Pro off him, and switched to playing The Room 3 – yes, with the two video clips being edited still in the background. The game played perfectly fine. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the level of performance that I am not sure I have experienced on too many (if any) mobile devices. In fact, I have noticed that many video editors prefer editing content on the iPad as compared to notebooks – “I don’t have to tangle with a mouse and the UI is much better,” one of them told me. Some of course insist that the level of editing one can do on the iPads is limited as compared to a good old-fashioned desktop but then the sheer convenience of the form factor (imagine being able to edit video while still in bed) wins many over. And well, if my friend’s reaction is any indication, the iPad Pro is a very powerful mobile video editing machine.
The combination of a powerful processor and good speakers also means that the iPad Pro is a very dab hand at gaming. The big display is great for viewing action but I suspect it is likely to be as much of a hit among the strategy fans who mess over empires and cities on maps. And yes, I still think that its fantastic sound quality is a huge edge it has over many other mobile devices, and that includes a few notebooks too. Watching a film or video on the iPad Pro is far more immersive than on any other device.
And I think this “immersive” feeling as regards multimedia stems from the sheer portability of the device. I often ended up detaching the keyboard to play games and watch films. And somehow the fact that I was actually holding a large display in my hand made the whole viewing experience seem, for want of a better word, a lot closer. It also made me realize that while the iPad Pro is definitely the largest iPad Apple has ever made, it weighs close to what the first iPad did. And as this is a much bigger iPad that weight is spread over a larger area, making the device appear light for its size. Yes, I did sit in bed watching films on the original iPad and I was doing the same with the iPad Pro as well – it was more inconvenient to hold in terms of size, but the quality of the display and well, the sound, more than compensated (my wife never bothered telling me to turn down the volume when I was watching a film on the iPad and iPad 2 – she has told me half a dozen times to do so on the iPad Pro). And for the nth time, reading graphic novels on it is pure joy!
This being more of a “view and learn” day, there was not much writing done on the device (the article you are reading was the most writing I did) on this, but in terms of sheer hardware usage, I suspect today was the heaviest in the iPad Pro Only Diaries. But in spite of about half an hour of heavy duty video editing, at least a couple of hours of The Room 3, writing this article, and a bit of artless scribbling, and stacks of browsing, the battery was at 29 per cent when I put it down.
One day to go then before I am reunited with my notebook. But oddly enough, absence in this case has not made the heart grow fonder.