The latest iteration in the iPad Pro has recently hit the market. Lacking a great presentation due to the lockdown that is still holding the planet, this new and improved model has a few bumps that can grant better performance.
Now, the day we’ve seen Steve Jobs sitting on his sofa and gently tapping and swiping on the first iPad, we could bet that most of the tech enthusiasts were already imagining the moment when a tablet could completely replace the computer. And for the most part, that’s even true.
Filmmakers are part of one of the few categories, together with VFX artists, engineers, architects, and a couple more, who still actually needs a real computer to crunch through their insane projects and humungous data rates. Or do they? The Everyday Dad is always ready to throw himself under the bus to test if a piece of gear is good enough or not.
The real question here is not about the ability of the iPad to cut through footage and edit timelines. We’ve seen already the amount of power that can be delivered by the ARM chips inside these thin devices as well as we’ve seen them edit 6K files coming straight out of an S1H.
So what are we looking for actually? Raw computing power is a fraction of what makes a standard computer the tool of choice for all of us. It’s about workflow. It’s about having calibrated monitors, input devices, external disks, and much more. So let’s rephrase the question better: if we take out a desktop or laptop PC, can we still fit the iPad in the same workflow?
So, the way this test is set up is almost the only way possible at the moment for an iPad configuration. We have a USB-C dongle to send the signal to the external monitor and to handle the external disks, while the keyboard and mice can either go through the dongle or via Bluetooth.
Once you’ve connected the drive with all the footage, you can import it in our editing software. Ted has chosen to use LumaFusion, one of the most renowned editing tools in the App Store. It has almost all the functionality you’d expect, with a couple of exceptions, and is quite easy to use.
If you’re used to Apple’s magic mouse, you’ll feel at home. You can use the gestures, and the keyboard shortcuts are the same. The first impression is a very good one, since scrubbing through 4K 400Mbs clips does not cause any kind of hiccups or frame drops.
Keep in mind, though, that you’ll need a pair of headphones since the audio signal is sent through the USB-C port to the monitor and cannot be played on the iPad itself.
But cutting to the chase and trying to answer our opening question, how does this iPad hold on, leaving aside the limits in the editing software? Well, it’s surprisingly good.
The render times are low, the thing feels snappy and powerful, and it is indeed after all, so what could go wrong? Ted goes so far as to say that he’s not going to renew the lease on his iMac Pro. That is probably a bold statement he’s going to rethink himself, but we can see why he’s said that.
It’s not about the pure raw power inside these chips. There’s plenty of that, no doubt, but all of that power is encapsulated in a small and tiny chassis with some inherent thermal limits due to the form factor that is not possible to overcome.
Can we suggest to hold to it as to a professional replacement to an editing device? Not an everyday one, as an emergency solution it could be, but it seems that the day we’ll edit from our sofas is still far away.