In the early days of mobile computing, stylus based devices like the Palm Pilot, Compact iPaq, and Psion organizers were all the rage. Then Apple came along and redefined how consumers controlled and interacted with their devices through touch, first through the iPod and then later with the iPhone and iPad. For a long time Apple kept a purist approach with their iPads avoiding the addition of any Apple pens or keyboards, making touch the primary means of interaction.
Apple took the same purist approach with their Mac notebooks which have avoided screen touch control leaving many Window PC notebook and PC notebook-tablet convertibles to claim that capability.
With the Apple iPad Pro, for the first time Apple has released a touch screen based device with a keyboard and a pen, defying all of Apple's previous rules. Perhaps with Steve Job's passing, Apple Marketing finally had the green light to develop a product for professional users that Microsoft targets with its Surface Pro 4.
I purchased the iPad Pro at the Apple Store in Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, California. The store had some amazing blown up shots on the wall taken from the iPad Air 2 and iPhone 6S. Perhaps in the future, these would be replaced with those from the iPad Pro.
At first glance, iPad Pro is huge compared to the previous iPads. In fact, when the Apple sales associate was demonstrating the iPad Pro to me, the first thing she focused on being able to watch shows on iTunes and the much larger sound that comes out of the iPad Pro's four speakers that are now integrated into the iPad Pro's unibody enclosure. Compared to the iPad Air 2, the sound coming out of the iPad Pro is definitely much better and great for watching movies.
Another selling point of the iPad Pro more useful to professional users is the Smart Keyboard, Apple's first iPad keyboard. Previously, companies like Logitech made keyboards for the iPad like the Logitech Type+, but the Smart Keyboard is specially made by Apple for the iPad Pro. Like the Microsoft Surface keyboards, the Smart Keyboard magnetically snaps securely to small ball shaped connectors on the side of the tablet. Unlike the Logitech Type+ which uses Bluetooth to connect to the iPad Air 2 and has a battery that periodically needs to be recharged, the Smart Keyboard is more similar to the Surface keyboard where it connects physically to the tablet which also provides power to the keyboard. Also, the Smart Keyboard keyboard tactile feel is much superior to that found in the Logitech Type+.
The Smart Keyboard can also fold into different shapes (similar to the Amazon Fire Keyboard) so that it can turn your iPad Pro into a notebook or display, or it can serve as a protective case.
The iPad Pro was specially designed to work with the Apple Pencil and no other iPad can work with it. With the Apple Pencil, the iPad Pro competes more directly with the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 but the Apple Pencil design and capabilities are more aligned with the Apple's loyal base of creative professionals. Unlike the Surface Pro 4 which comes with the Surface Pen, you must buy the Apple Pencil separately.
Interestingly enough, the iPad Pro doesn't support 4K video recording like the iPhone 6S despite Apple's recent focus on 4K. However, the iPad Pro is the first iPad to support USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5 Gb/s) speeds over the Lightning connector. This allows you to transfer 4K videos quickly to the iPad Pro for editing from Apple's Lighting to SD Card Camera Reader.
Unfortunately, even though the iPad Pro supports USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5 Gb/s), the current Lightning to USB cables to not support this speed which means you can't take advantage of this faster speed when syncing content between the iPad Pro and a Mac.
The iPad Pro comes in a standard though much larger iPad box. As you open up the box, the iPad Pro is the first thing you see.
Underneath the IPad Pro, you will find the standard iPad USB power adapter and Lighting to USB cable.
If you are used to other iPads like the iPad Air, you'll find the the iPad Pro to be enormous.
The iPad Pro set up is the same as other iPads.
With the iPad Pro, Apple users both professional and casual can enjoy a large screen, great sound, keyboard, and stylus specially designed by Apple. After so many years of denying the need for a tablet stylus and keyboard, Apple has reversed positions to come up with a product that sets the bar for super sized tablets.