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9.7-inch iPad Pro hands-on: Apple’s best tablet yet?

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Apple’s March 2016 keynote saw the American tech giant showing off two new products directly inspired by previous designs and going small(er) without making big compromises where the user experience suffers.

For fans of compact smartphones, there’s the iPhone SE, a much improved iPhone 5S, that like the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, also comes in rose gold.

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We’ve already covered the iPhone SE in a separate post, so today we’re shining the spotlight on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, which is essentially the legitimate offspring of the first iPad Pro and iPad Air 2. It is perhaps the best iPad ever built by Apple, having the most power the company has ever crammed into a consumer-friendly device, alongside basic productivity features like split-screen multitasking.

And while the new iPad Pro lacks the ability to run legacy desktop apps — it’s limited to what’s on offer from the App Store — thereby diminishing its appeal as a proper PC replacement, it is nevertheless a fantastic tablet that does tablet stuff as good as anything on the market.

9.7-inch iPad Pro hands-on GadgetMatch (13)

Oh, and let’s not forget about the Apple accessories you can pair with the smaller iPad Pro for smaller sums: the $US99 Apple Pencil stylus is a must for those who love to sketch; the $US149 Smart Keyboard cover may come in handy for pecking out emails and lengthy status updates and editing documents. Even if you don’t give a rat’s posterior about either of those items, it’s nice to think that first-party options are available should they be needed.

Before we get to the hardware, let’s briefly go over the contents of the retail box, which includes the standard Lightning-to-USB cable, a power adapter, some documentation, and Apple stickers. No surprises here, really.

Another non-shocking revelation? The new Pro sports much of the same handsome all-aluminum aesthetics as the original, except in a smaller and markedly lighter package, prompting the inevitable comparison to another 9.7-inch slate Apple still makes. The Pro also meets the company’s superlative standard of refinement and build quality, which are unparalleled in the industry.

The power button, headphone jack, and two of the four built-in stereo speakers are located on the top edge of the device. The right-hand side features the volume up and down buttons, as well as dual microphones, while the left edge houses the Smart Connector for use with a compatible accessory. Along the bottom is where the Lightning port and second pair of speakers can be found.

The rectangular unibody shell is smooth and has rounded edges, making holding the tablet for extended periods of time more pleasant than we anticipated. It also has a slightly protruding camera assembly around the back, but thankfully the lump isn’t big enough to make the Pro wobble when it’s resting on a flat surface.

9.7-inch iPad Pro hands-on GadgetMatch (16)

Speaking of which, the 12- and 5-megapixel rear and selfie cameras are the same modules the iPhone 6S has, meaning, yes, they’re great and the rear-facer can shoot 4K video, and, no, this still isn’t a solid enough excuse to hold a tablet up vertically during a concert.

The 9.7-inch, LED-backlit display supports a resolution of 2,048 x 1,536 and works out to 264 pixels per inch, so it isn’t any sharper than the Air 2’s. It is, however, well-saturated and impressively bright — possibly brighter than those of earlier iPads — which is to say the panel is more than good enough to take outdoors and view in direct sunlight.

The size of the screen also lends well to running two different apps side-by-side; we’d like it to be bigger, sure, but that would mean stretching the hardware to accommodate a larger display, not to mention stealing the thunder from the original Pro.

As for the new Pro’s True Tone display that uses ambient-light sensors to measure the light in a room and autocorrect the screen’s color temperature, we found it to be a great addition to the iPad’s feature set. In fact, we liked it so much we decided to leave it turned on.

9.7-inch iPad Pro hands-on GadgetMatch (18)

Now, about the A9X chipset with 2GB of RAM tucked away in that metal chassis: It’s deserving of the praise it’s earned so far; the smaller iPad Pro is in the same league as Apple’s top-of-the-line slate, despite a slower CPU clock speed and half the RAM. We half-expected it to struggle with intensive apps and heavy multitasking, but it didn’t happen. This machine just keeps chugging along regardless of what’s in front of it.

So, Pro distinction aside, is this the standard-sized iOS tablet to get? If you can afford spending $US200 more than what you’d pay if you purchased the iPad Air 2, then yes. Even without the accessories, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is an excellent product that offers plenty of power and portability for more demanding users. Just don’t expect it to replace your laptop.

9.7-inch iPad Pro hands-on GadgetMatch (12)

The new iPad Pro comes in silver, space gray, gold, and rose gold and starts at $US599 for the base configuration with 32GB of storage and WiFi-only connectivity. Adding 4G LTE support generally adds $US130 to the retail price.

Watch our unboxing below.

[irp posts=”1920″ name=”9.7-inch iPad Pro Unboxing”]

CES 2021

GadgetMatch Awards: Best of CES 2021

Flying cars, rolling phones, and Ice Cream right at home

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CES has always been the place for dreaming about the future of tech and this year, despite the annual convention being held virtually instead of in Las Vegas like usual, is no different.

We saw plenty of exciting innovations ranging from stuff that we can purchase soon, something for the new normal, and an effin flying car. Yes. If that doesn’t get your gears running we don’t know what will.

So here are our favorites from the tech show.

Best Gaming Laptop: ROG Flow X13 

ROG Flow X13

Gaming laptops have been getting slimmer and slimmer over the years but this one — it’s a gaming laptop the size of an Ultrabook. ASUS managed to pack gaming power — AMD Ryzen 9/Cezanne-HS mobile processor, RTX 3080 — in a 15mm thin and 1.35kg body.

To heighten the gaming experience further, you can pair it with the ROG XG Mobile GPU that gives the Flow X13 the power of a full-sized gaming rig. That’s bonkers.

Best Auto Concept: GM flying Cadillac Taxi

The idea of flying cars has long intrigued the human race. You need not look far than the prevalence of such a vehicle in sci-fi pop culture to see how much we long for it.

General Motors’ flying Cadillac taxi concept is a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) vehicle, eliminating the need for any runway. It’ll run on a 90kWh battery with 56mph top speed. New flying regulations will have to come but we can’t wait for this to take to the skies.

Best New Smartphone Form Factor: LG Rollable

Smartphones are going through a period of change. What once was just a rectangular piece of slab has seen itself fold, flip, and now… roll.

We’ve seen LG showcase a rollable concept before but the LG Rollable could be the closest thing that might actually… roll out to the market. Details are scarce for now but expect plenty of news and rumors to build up as it gets closer to launch.

Best Laptop: ASUS ZenBook Duo 

The ZenBook Duo, first showcased at Computex 2019, sort of took a gap year in 2020. What we saw instead was a gaming version with the Zephyrus Duo. It makes a comeback now more refined and with internals fit for the new year.

The new ASUS ZenBook Duo is a refinement of this new laptop form factor in every way imaginable — one that, theoretically, should be much more useful than its predecessor.

Best Chromebook: Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2

The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 has all the bells and whistles of the first generation but it now comes with a QLED panel. Yep, Samsung’s TV display tech has made its way to a notebook. This could just be the beginning.

Best Audio Wearable: Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
Galaxy Buds Pro

Buds, Plus, Live, and now Pro — not exactly the progression that makes the most sense name-wise but Samsung may now finally have the TWS that can go toe-to-toe against the AirPods Pro and Freebuds Pro.

The Galaxy Buds Pro promises intelligent ANC that adjusts according to your environment and a playtime that’s par for the course for the other buds it’s going up against.

Best Wearable: MaskFone

Ever since the pandemic hit, face masks have come in all shapes, sizes and features — the MaskFone is no exception.

The MaskFone has a mic in the facepiece and two earbuds hanging on wires by the earloops. The mask is made of a water-resistant, breathable, and washable material and includes a pocket for PM2.5 filters. As far as tech goes, this one’s pretty in your face.

Best Kitchen Appliance: ColdSnap

What’s better than getting sweet, icy treats on a dreary day? It’s making those sweet, icy treats at your own home with ColdSnap.

It works like coffee pod machines but instead of coffee, it serves ice cream and other frozen treats from recyclable aluminium pods. Now, you can Ice Cream and chill at your leisure.

Best Smart TV: Samsung NEO QLED 

Samsung’s QLED was already pretty good but turning things up to eleven is their Neo QLED. With this new display tech, Samsung promises improved picture quality — dark areas are darker, bright areas brighter, and so on. Of course, we’ll have to see it for ourselves but it already sounds promising.

Best Wellness Device: Lora DiCarlo Drift, Tilt, Sway

If you can get past snickering like a tween, you’ll realize this offers many… benefits. Inspired by human warmth, the new model mimics the heat we experience from our partners’ bodies. Lora DiCarlo used a nylon-based thermally conductive polymer and its WarmSense Technology, simulating body temperature.

I’m sure we can all use some warmth in these cold nights.

Best Cleaning Device: Samsung JetBot 90 AI+

Keeping your place squeaky clean doesn’t get any smarter than this. The JetBot 90 AI+ is a vacuum cleaner that uses object recognition technology to identify and classify objects to decide the best cleaning path. LiDAR and 3D sensors allow JetBot 90 AI+ to avoid cables and small objects, while still cleaning hard-to-reach corners in your home.

Best Camera/Drone: Airpeak

Professional videographers who’s weapon of choice are Sony Alphas are probably dying to have their hands on Airpeak. It’s a drone that can be equipped with Sony’s professional grade, mirrorless cameras. This opens up new possibilities in terms of aerial footage.

Best Monitor: Dell UltraSharp 40 Curved WUHD

It appears we’re facing a future that’ll have us sitting in front of monitors for longer than we realize. That’s why having one that’s easy on the eyes could be extra beneficial. The ComfortView Plus on the Dell UltraSharp 40 Curved WUHD monitor can help with that. Not to mention, it is color accurate and should aid you nicely in your work-from-home setup.

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Accessories

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Review: Better than AirPods Pro?

Finally, real Active Noise Cancellation out of the box

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Samsung has unveiled the newest Galaxy Buds Pro alongside the announcement of the latest Galaxy S21 series.

Other than the new design, better sound quality, and surround sound setup, there’s now a real and intelligent Active Noise Cancellation.

But do these earbuds live up to its ‘Pro’ branding? Watch our Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro review by clicking the video link right here.

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Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy S21 Series Hands-on

Most of the leaks were true after all

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Samsung started 2021 early with their newest Galaxy S21 series.

Unlike last year where the S20 models were announced last February, these new S21 units were unveiled as early as January 2021. Although we’ve covered most of the leaks and rumors about Samsung’s latest flagship trio, we still need to confirm them.

Head over to our latest hands-on video to find out more.

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