Although there has been much talk about Apple's new iPad, the 12-inch iPad Pro, being an ideal tablet for creatives, its extra screen size could be appealing for other situations too; as a family device, for example. It could be the hub of a whole family's tech needs.
The requirements for technology in a family are different to those of a professional user. In the home, gadgets need to tick a lot of different boxes for all ages. But while the iPad Pro is certainly aimed at the high end, its multifaceted functions earn it points for homework, creativity and gaming as well as work.
The large tablet starts at £679 for the 32GB model so families will have to think seriously before investing in this over other technology. Still, the introduction of the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard offer more applications for its super-sized screen over existing iPad alternatives, and even many laptops.
Gaming is also a consideration here, particularly with youngsters flocking away from consoles and towards tablet devices. And it's a piece of technology that can truly claim a console experience away from the TV.
So, ahead of a full review on Pocket-lint of the iPad Pro's full capabilities, we looked at the device as the hub of a family's wants and desires, including how it offered a gaming experience - specifically using the latest Skylanders release, Skylanders Superchargers. Could it be as suitable for young children as well as the professional market?
Gaming and drawing on iPad Pro, iPad Air, iPad Mini and iPad 3
One way to test the impact of the larger screen and whether it offers more for young children is to run one of their favourite games on it in comparison to other iPads they would normally play on. And on the iPad Pro, our test game really jumps off the screen and will even make any family considering upgrading to a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One console for games like this think again.
Of course, gaming alone is not enough to warrant the price. Another tick in the box is creativity. Combine the Apple Pencil with the large drawing surface on the iPad Pro and you have a device asking to be used for art and design work.
In the workplace, this offers a high-end graphics tablet experience, while back in the home it encourages family members to try their hand at sketching, painting and even 3D modelling.
This has been said before, but it’s not until you sit down with the iPad Pro an Apple Pencil and your children to start drawing that the magic really happens. The zero latency and instant feedback from the drawing surface creates a strong connection between actions and on-screen results.
Tilting the pencil on its side is an instinctive and natural way to shade and blend creations. The back and forth between point work and deft shading almost feels like a game. Its almost addictive quality will make even those with minimal creativity discover they are more creative than they assumed. In the hands of a child you can see the realisation of what is possible dawn on their face.
Is the iPad Pro suitable for the whole family?
While there are other devices with more grunt, the iPad Pro is no slouch. Editing a video in iMovie was easily as effective as working with Final Cut Pro on a MacBook — albeit without quite so much fine detail control.
The touch interface is convincing for productivity apps like these. In fact, it makes a strong case for Apple to bring touch to the rest of its lines. The MacBook and iMacs have resisted this innovation, not wanting to muddle the OSX and iOS waters, but this must surely be a concession made soon.
Another important element here, and one often overlooked elsewhere, is the importance of battery life for a family. A device that you have to charge too often can easily end up never used, simply from being out of power just when you need it.
The iPad Pro promises 10 hours of movie watching and internet browsing on a full charge. Much of the space in the housing must hide a hefty battery to deliver this impressive stamina. Testing it out with everything turned to maximum (brightness full, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on) while playing Skylanders Superchargers granted 3 hours and 40 minutes. This matches similar results of previous generation iPads and is impressive when you consider the level of visuals and huge size of the screen.
iPad Pro Smart Keyboard and small fingers
Finally, the addition of that Smart Keyboard, that plugs into the data and power connection on the device, is a big plus. This makes the device more accessible to a wider range of family members. While children can find the on-screen keyboard a bit fiddly, having a physical keyboard (and one you don’t need to keep charged) enables them to use it for homework and essays.
There’s another nice use for the iPad Pro where you can plug it into a Mac and use it as a second screen with an app like Duet. While this is possible with any iPad, it’s only with the Pro’s huge screen that this becomes more than a novelty.
It bears restating that the iPad Pro is not the cheapest device in its sector, but in a family setting we found that the flexibility of applications, generous screen and battery result in strong value for money. It’s a device that’s too good to keep just for work and with the Apple Pencil it will undoubtedly open the door on new creativity for young artists as well.
You can also watch a family-oriented review of the iPad Pro from Family Gamer TV on its YouTube channel.