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Review: Apple iPad (2018)

By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

Apple's sixth generation iPad is a notable update over the model it replaces and makes even more sense as the most affordable iPad now geared more towards education and creative users.

New for this this year is a more powerful Apple A10 Fusion processor as well as the ability to work with the excellent Apple Pencil, which transforms this entry-level iPad into a viable tool for artists looking for a tablet to draw, colour or ink. Hit jump for a review of the new iPad.

For users of older iPads, the new iPad brings a familiar form factor and size while adding more performance and functionality. Users of iPad Pro, will miss the gapless True Tone display as well as the ProMotion display with variable frame rate depending on what's playing. The 10.5-inch iPad Pro is still the crowning jewel of Apple's iPad line, but it costs well double the asking price of the new iPad 9.7-inch.

Here's the thing about iPads, they've got longevity. No other tablet gets used by such a wide range of users and in different ages. iPads get passed down and inherited and continue to work for years. Apple's great an ensuring new features get passed on to older models. Most people who aren't looking for the horsepower or larger of the iPad Pro should be happy with the iPad for years to come.

As someone who does use tablets and pens for drawing, the new iPad plus Apple Pencil combination is a welcome option I would consider, specially now that the new iPad (2018) is more powerful than the first generation iPad Pro.

The 2018 iPad ships with the quad-core A10 Fusion and the M10 co-processor, clocked at 2.22GHz with 2GB of RAM. This is more than enough for running various apps, even the more demanding AR and creative applications.

Apple has taken care of the software side as well. While adding Apple Pencil functionality makes a lot of sense for certain disciplines and schools, enabling Pencil support in iWorks apps improves integration and ease of use.

Of course, most students will use Microsoft's Office 365, thankfully Apple Pencil support is available in Word, Excel, PowerPoint and other Office apps.

Sure, the Apple Pencil doesn't come free and costs a third of the iPad's price at $129, but it now adds some parity with the more premium and larger iPad Pro models.

Apple didn't release a keyboard solution for the new iPad. It seems the Smart Connector will remain in the domain of iPad Pro users for now.  

There are some third-party Bluetooth keyboards in the market, the most notable from brands like Logi. But these are an additional expense and non-standard.

 Since Apple seems to be wanting to challenge Chromebooks, which are more affordable laptop form-factor devices with keyboards, having no included or affordable keyboard for the iPad is a miss.

I've used my share of third party iPad keyboards and can honestly say that Apple's Smart keyboard works the best. Having to pair an inferior Bluetooth keyboard with the iPad feels like a half-measure that's loaded with compromise.It's not ideal but it will get the job done.
Apple's iPad stands alone as a viable and multi-purpose tablet in the current $429 price point. In eight years, the iPad has managed to outlast competition and evolve. This latest version is improved in some key areas to keep the user base happy while getting creative users and students excited about the possibilities of using the Apple Pencil for work and play.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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