5 reasons why the 9.7-inch iPad Pro can't be a PC replacement

Apple's new iPad Pro falls short in several areas as a true substitute

Apple says its 9.7-inch iPad Pro can be a PC replacement Credit: Apple

Apple says its 9.7-inch iPad Pro can be a PC replacement Credit: Apple

Apple is taking a shot at Windows PCs with its new 9.7-inch iPad Pro tablet, calling it the "ultimate PC replacement."

The new iPad Pro would be an improvement for about 600 million PCs that are five years or older and need an upgrade, said Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing at Apple, at an event Monday.

The number of old PCs still in use is "really sad," Schiller said. The new iPad Pro has the processing power and features to replace a PC, he added.

While there are merits to Schiller's argument, the new iPad Pro isn't an ideal PC replacement. The new iPad Pro rates high with its lightweight design and mobility, but here are five areas where it falls short.

Storage

The new iPad Pro has a maximum of 256GB of storage and no SD or memory card slots to expand storage. Many new hybrid devices running Windows provide more storage capacity and have ports for attaching extra storage. For example, the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 offers up to 1TB of storage.

Storage is important because the iPad Pro is capable of shooting 4K video, and more internal capacity will be needed for those large video files.

USB port

The new iPad Pro lacks a USB Type-C port, which is now making its way into laptops and hybrids. The Type-C port charges many hybrid Windows PCs, and it also allows devices to connect to monitors and external storage devices.

Some USB Type-C connections also support Thunderbolt 3, which transfers data at a super-fast speed of 40Gbps (bits per second). Apple has its own Lightning connector in the iPad Pro, and offers a Lightning to USB Type-C connector, but it isn't able to handle Thunderbolt 3 speeds.

Design flexibility

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro tablet can be turned into a laptop with a flat keyboard attachment, but it doesn't have the design flexibility of many new Windows hybrids. The screens on the Windows hybrids can be detached and turned into tablets. Many business hybrids have hardwired keyboards, and they turn into tablets when users rotate their screens.

Processing power

Apple's iPad Pro tablet uses the A9X processor, which the company claims offers PC-like performance. But it's widely acknowledged that Intel's fastest Core i5 and i7 chips -- which are also in MacBook Airs and some Windows hybrids -- can outperform A9X, which is based on the ARM architecture. The question for potential buyers is whether they need the processing power of a Core i7, which is useful for intense applications like image editing and video processing.

Apps and user interface

The new iPad has the iOS interface, which is the same as the iPhone. The simple user interface may be advantageous for people comfortable with mobile computing, but not power users. The iOS interface doesn't offer fine-grained control over the file system, storage and applications like in Mac OS X or Windows 10 computers.

The versions of applications like Microsoft Office for full-fledged computers also have more features than mobile editions of the software. It is also easier for users to multitask and switch between applications on PCs.

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Agam Shah

IDG News Service
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