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The fat new Apple iPad Pro

9 May 2024

You can never be too rich or too thin, or so the saying goes.

Apple appear to be following that mantra with the release of their latest iPad device which squeezes in at an incredible 5.1mm of thickness (well not quite but let's not allow the facts to get in the way of a good PR pitch -- it seems that marketers love to fudge the figures).

Just like the iPhone, the iPad was a game-changing device. It brought science fiction to life by offering a very practical computer in tablet form. No keyboard, no trailing wires or other superfluous bits -- just a highly functional tablet.

However, as anyone who's studied the book of Apple knows, the company is always seeking to push the boundaries and redefine the limits of what's possible from performance, styling, engineering and functionality perspectives.

The big question at Apple HQ was obviously "How do we make the iPad even more far betterer than it was before?"

"More power" is the obvious response... but we don't actually mean more watts, we mean more MIPS and that's exactly what the new M4 CPU is supposed to deliver. In fact it not only delivers more processing power but it does so using less energy. A win-win.

However, these days, everyone expects that their next computing device will be faster than their last one so simply hiking performance wasn't enough for Apple.

Obviously, anything you're going to carry around should be light so, acknowledging that as a species we're getting weaker by the day, Apple also opted to cut down on as much weight as they could. Another win.

The cool thing is that they did all this stuff without sacrificing battery life. Apparently the new iPad will run for "up to" 10 hours on a single charge, just like the previous one. That's not an advance but it's not a loss either.

What about the screen?

Given that the iPad is 95 percent screen it's pretty important tht this part of the product be revamped and as good as it can get -- so they're now using a pretty impressive "Tandem OLED" technology with 1000 nits at max brightness that peaks to 1600 nits in HDR mode. The company claims that this gives a jaw-dropping two million to one contrast ratio.

This is a huge step up from previos LCD tech so it's another win.

Of course it has all the regular sensors and other bits built in, such as cameras, face-detect, gyros, accelerometers, barometer, ambient light sensor and even a LIDAR.

Memory wise I was a little disappointed that there's only a choice of 256GB or 512GB and internal storage is a maximum of 2TB but I'm sure that very few of those who fork out the cash to buy one will be complaining (yet).

However, the biggest selling point of this new iPad Pro is the thickness -- or should I say "the thinness".

At just 5.1mm thick for the 13-inch model and 5.3mm for the 11-inch version, these things are obscenely thin. One can only wonder at how many engineering compromises had to be made in order to meet the designers' demands that it be this thin.

I guess that when you're trying to improve a device that is really quite limited in form to being "a rectangle with rounded edges", going for some super-impressive level of thinness is about the best way to say "look at us". This also gives those who purchase the device the opportunity to say "look at me, I have a thinner tablet than you -- you peasant!"

So back to the old "never too rich, never too thin"...

The iPad Pro is the thinnest but do you have to be rich to own one?

Starting price in NZ is $1999 which is pretty spendy for an 11-inch tablet but that is also only the minimum-spec model. If you decide to go for the 13-inch with full memory and storage plus the special nano-textured glass, cellular modem and other extras you'll actually have to fork out an awful lot more. I couldn't find out exactly how much more this morning because the Apple website wouldn't let me select the various options but I expect we're talking several thousand more than the "starting price".

This all sounds pretty good so far, if you're rich enough and want the thinnest tablet money can buy... but...

That 5.1mm thickness isn't quite the full truth.

If you have a pouch that is 5.1mm thick you won't be able to fit your expensive new iPad Pro in -- well at least not all the way in.

Why's that?

This waif-like anorexic has an unspoken beer-belly.

Just like many smartphones, the iPad Pro has quite a bulge where the camera is attached and that would seem to add at least another couple of mm at the point of maximum thickness -- that makes it 40 percent fatter at this point than Apple would care to admit.

So there you have it... lies, statistics and marketing, you can't really trust any of them.

Carpe Diem folks!

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