What’s the verdict on iPad Pro?

What’s the verdict on iPad Pro?

iPad Pro has finally hit our shores (and in stock at our warehouse) so we’ve ventured into the dark heart of the internet – well, our favourite tech sites – to take the temperature and see how people are reacting to their new über-tablet.

ipad_proWhat’s with all the accessories?

Let’s start with a look at some standout features. Mashable are particularly ebullient about the Apple Pencil, the magically weighted stylus that you can purchase as an add-on for your iPad Pro. The iPad Pro scans for the tip of the pencil 240 times a second, meaning that it has an incredibly fast response time.

“My minor misgivings about losing it [aside], the Pencil is a marvel of engineering and once again highlights the iPad Pro’s excellent screen resolution and design,” gushes Lance Ulanoff.

“The responsiveness is exquisite and the Pencil tip material offers just the right balance between friction and smoothness on the iPad Pro’s touch screen. Pressure sensitivity is about as close as you’re going to get to actually drawing on real paper. It even supports shading, letting me hold the Pencil at an extreme angle to access a the virtual long-edge of a graphite pencil or wide magic marker. What’s more, there is almost no perceptible visual space between the Pencil tip and the digital line that appears on screen. All that combined with the iPad Pro’s impressively large canvas (I have room for a full drawing and reference material) make this a fantastic drawing experience.”

Ulanoff even filmed himself drawing on the iPad Pro versus the Surface Pro 4 – you can see the results here but as a spoiler, it’s game, set and match to iPad Pro.

While there has been some griping about the lack of a top row on the Apple Smart Keyboard, robbing you of the volume, brightness and function keys, but ARS Technica’s Andrew Cunningham notes that: “The keyboard and folded stand sections combine to form one continuous, flat surface that’s surprisingly stable on your lap, a complaint we still have about the Surface tablets despite improvements in recent generations”, and that missing top row is compensated for by “the best software keyboard ever” according to Macworld’s Susie Ochs:

“Like a good digital citizen, I use complex passwords full of letters, numbers, and symbols, even though that kind of password is harder to enter on my iPhone, requiring me to jump between the keyboards for letters, numbers, and symbols in a way I just don’t have to on my Mac. The iPad Pro’s software keyboard has a row of numbers and common symbols along the top of the letter layout, just like the Mac. Shortcuts even pop up per application—in Mail, the options to insert a photo or attach a file are handy to have right onscreen without any tap-and-hold tricks required to find them.”

The on-screen experience

Wired enthusiastically claim that iPad Pro is “the best tablet, and the best case for tablets, anyone’s ever made,” and are keen to emphasise the desktop-like experience you’ll be able to enjoy when using your apps on iOS 9:

“The extra space shows up in subtle but important ways. In iMovie, you can see your library, timeline, and a full-res 1080p view of your final product, all on a single screen. When you play FIFA, you can use the on-screen controls without obscuring any of the actual gameplay. You can comfortably see the entire week in the calendar, from 8am to 9pm. Slack has a new Jumbo Mode that shows you your messages, menus, and files all at once. Many of the first apps to be optimized are analytics tools—you can see so much stuff now! On the iPad Pro you spend less time moving—scrolling lists and thumbing through menus—and more time doing whatever you’re doing. Apps aren’t forced to feel like dumbed-down tablet versions.”

The iPad Pro is the size of two iPad Air 2 side by side, and it’s this that reviewers are finding makes sense of iOS 9’s multitasking mode, with picture-in-picture and side-by-side both making more sense once you have enough space to slide someone’s face into the corner of your Mail window, and now that Slide Over’s third-of-a-screen view is of a usable size. Mashable explain:

“Changing which app is running in the right-hand pane is easy; you just swipe down from the top edge of the screen (over the right-hand pane) and it converts it back into the list of available apps. To change which app is running on the left side, you can use a four-finger gesture which reveals the traditional app tab interface. Select one and it fills the left side of the screen, while maintaining the app running on the right.

“I did have to get used to the two different ways the two panes could interact. If I just dragged over my task pane and selected an app, the left pane would remain in what’s known as “slideover mode,” which means the left app will take over again if I tap to use it. To put the apps in multi-task mode, I have to grab the pane adjustment bar and drag it a bit left and then right to have both panes snap to multi-tasking attention. Apple explained that this is by design, since sometimes you just want to peek at some other bit of content or app information and then return to your main task.”

Power and speed

This is the first time we’ve ever known exactly how much RAM an iPad has had (4GB), and coupled with this A9X chip that is getting iPad Pro rave reviews for its dexterity, graphics performance and gaming and creative potential. Macworld note that:

“Gaming devs love to push the fastest available processors to the edge, and games that harness the Pro’s graphical power should be along before long. And creative users historically tend to favour more powerful machines – the Mac Pro’s main audience is among video editors and other creative-industry workers. But we can’t help feel that business users, who in other parts of the launch presentation appeared to be one of the main target markets, may feel that the Pro is overqualified – and consequently overpriced – for the primarily simple tasks they need it for.”

However, we’re yet to find a creative test that taxes the iPad Pro, so if you’re like our design team and want something that will help you stay genuinely productive away from your desk, it’s a safe bet. The Verge also want you to know that “the Pro’s build quality justifies the price” and that “The tablet’s processing power is even more notable than the display. Apple has rigged the iPad Pro with its latest chip, the A9X, which it claims has twice the CPU and twice the graphics performance of the previous processor. And it has four strategically placed, self-adjusting speakers that wowed me with their sound when I watched videos on it.”

If you want to check a few key benchmarks, ARS Technica have a helpful list here.

The verdict

While the general consensus seems to be that there’s room for refinement when it comes to multitasking and that the Smart Keyboard is likely to be threatened by third party rivals with function keys, general awe for the sound and picture quality, responsiveness and Apple Pencil are all making the iPad Pro a worthy investment, scoring eights and nines across the board.

We’re going to give the final word to the ever-delightful Macalope, though, who points out:

“No one, even Tim Cook, is saying an iPad can do everything a laptop or desktop can do right now. What people are saying is that, depending on your needs, the iPad might be able to do everything you need to do and, when you can pay less for it than a Mac or PC, why not ask yourself if it can?”

If you’re tempted, you can check out the full range here.

iPad Pro is in stock now. Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email business@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and reviews, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook. To find out more, head to our iPad Pro event in Soho on 10th February. You can see the agenda and get your name on the list here.

Sony FS5: Smart, cunning and divisive over media…

Sony FS5: Smart, cunning and divisive over media…

I recently got a sneak preview of Sony’s new PXW-FS5. The IBC noise sounded a bit like this was an FS100 replacement (it isn’t). It’s actually much closer to the FS7.

It doesn’t quite have the same 4K clout as the FS7, but it’s got a couple of really smart, discreet upgrades in tech and design, all in a much smaller form factor, allowing shooting from any angle. Sony have produced an amazing small form factor, large sensor 4K camera. Now you’re going to want one of each.

So the sexy specs – 14 stops, QFHD 4K, over-cranking, WiFi/near field communication, choice of two codecs (including XAVC).

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The body

As you can see from the pics, the FS7 closely resembles the FS7. From the tech specs, you can see this thing is half the size. Also, it’s designed to be modular, so you strip it down to just a functioning body (weighing just 830g!) and a lens. What Sony have done with the XLRs on the FS5 is my first favourite ‘smartness’ – they’ve put them in completely different places. One is in the handle where you’d always expect it, the other is in the body. This enables recording XLR audio without anything else attached.

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The LCD will rotate into any position on its axis, then there are loads of mounting screws, so it can be mounted in almost any position.

Another smartness – the handgrip. I love the physics-defying design of the rotating arm on the FS7. On the 5, it looks like they’ve taken the handgrip from the 7 and attached it direct – it will rotate 180 degrees and also lock into nine specific places within that arc It’s so good in terms of weight, balance and ergonomics.

The battery

The FS5 ships with a BPU-30 battery, but the camera has a really deep battery-bay –its designed so a BPU-60 will fit flush with the body and a BPU-90 will extrude just a bit. Incidentally a BPU-60 will run it for approx. 4.5 hours, so a great choice on the FS5.

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The best bit

Time for another smartness – and my favourite bit – the ND filter. I kid you not. Firstly, as you can see from my pics, the silver ND dial looks the same, and is in the same position as on the FS7. But it’s brand new technology. It’s not mechanical (or not entirely); it’s digitally controlled. So as you switch the ND filter on, a clear piece of glass is mechanically dropped over the sensor (see pic), but the amount that the glass is tinted (ND-ed) is done digitally. Anywhere from 1/4 ND through to 1/28. To make it simple, that silver dial (which is normally three positions of ND) is still that, but what you want each position to be is set in the Menus – so the silver dial is like three ‘assignable’ buttons for ND.

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The controversial bit

The next bit you’re either going to love or hate.

For choice of media, Sony have gone for good ol’ non-proprietary SDXC cards. Awesome – you’ll save a fortune on media. And I’m still impressed at the engineering that makes 4K acquisition onto an SDXC card possible. However, there’s a trade-off – bottom line is you can only get 100MB/s as a consistent write speed from most fast SDXC cards, so the FS5 can only shoot UHD 4K up to 100MB/s.

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The footage I saw looked stunning (funny, demo reels always do…), but the trade-off is it can only shoot 4K to SDXC as a Long GOP profile – no Intraframe, which is reserved for the FS7 with its fancy, faster (and much more expensive) XQD cards. If you’re a shooter who moans about the cost of the newer, faster media (whether XQD, C-Fast, AJA PAK…), be careful what you wish for.

Over-cranking

Which brings me onto over-cranking. Yep, the FS5 can shoot up to 240fps at full HD. I know, I know, you’re doing the maths and shouting ‘but that’s impossible if the capture media can only do a reliable 100MB/s!’ Yep. Which is why it can only do it in eight second bursts (like the FS700).

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The FS5 captures it to an internal buffer first, then adds it to media. Another trade-off for cheaper media. Furthermore, there’s no over-cranking at QFHD 4K (unhappy face). However, drop it to 120 fps at 1080, and this buffer becomes a sixteen second burst. And if you’re a real slo-mo freak, it will continue to shoot lower, for every drop in resolution you’re prepared to go –as far as up to 960fps at 260p (260 lines, or ¼ vertical HD resolution), or so I believe.

The boring bit

Resolution – the FS5 will shoot full HD at 4:2:2, 10-bit, at 50p at 50Mb/s or 10-bit 4:2:2 at 25p at 35Mb/s. And if you really want, you can even shoot AVCHD at 24Mb/s and lower. It will even shoot DCI 2K at this 10-bit 4:2:2 profile. Sony’s final trade-off with the SDXC choice – the FS5 will only shoot UHD 4K internally at 8-bit 4:2:0. It will do it in S-Log 2 and 3, but take into account the fact that it’s only 8-bit.

The verdict

A good time to take a good look at yourself and ask – do you prefer affordable media with limitations on shooting, or insanely expensive media (XQD, C-FAST, AJA-PAKs etc) that allows you to do everything? Luckily for Sony, they now have two answers to cover themselves: FS5 or FS7.

Another cunning trick, this surprise announcement really lays down the gauntlet on the (announced a while back) eagerly awaited URSA Mini. Now, wouldn’t it be really cunning if they released a firmware update for RAW…

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.