I’m going to level with you. I’m getting serious iPhone 14 Pro Max vibes from the 12.9-inch iPad Pro box that’s sitting in front of me.
I have absolutely no idea what to do with it. I spent £1,249 on this thing, which is a huge amount of money for something which, even before it left Apple’s distribution facility, had no defined role within my business.
The problem is that I’ve turned myself into a tech reviewer. This is my job. To further compound matters, I’ve chosen to focus mainly on Apple products. By default, that means I have to review this stuff.
But what if I can’t think of a single angle, point of interest, experiment, or narrative worth exploring?
That’s where I find myself with this new M2-powered iPad Pro. It’s why I haven’t even unearthed it from its box and why I won’t be doing so; it’s going straight back to Apple.
I’ve got some explaining to do, haven’t I?
Thinking like a business owner
Every week, I receive a comment from some knuckle-dragging, sweaty-palmed troll on YouTube that goes something like this:
“Your sponsor read was too long. It’s so obvious your <sic> just doing this for the clicks and cash.”
I ignore most of them but, sometimes, I can’t help myself – I have to point out that I’m actually running a business and, yes, I enter commercial partnerships that enable me to earn money from the content I create which ensures it remains free and helps me pay the bills. Oh, and I even keep some of that money for myself for, you know, clothes and food, and stuff.
I’m extremely proud of Mark Ellis Reviews and it is hands-down the best, most exciting job I’ve ever had. But I’m not doing it for fun – this is a business, and as you might suspect, I spend most of my time thinking like a business owner. Because that’s exactly what I am.
I get sent a lot of stuff to review, which is lovely, but Apple doesn’t send me anything (nor will they ever, I suspect, after my last few videos). That means I have to budget for every single Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and official accessory that enters the studio.
The £1,249 I spent on the new iPad Pro represents a significant chunk of that budget – particularly when I have other things to invest in for this business.
For instance, I need a second camera. There’s some audio stuff I need for my new focus on short-form content. I’m crossing everything for a new Mac mini before the year is finished to power a new project I’m planning. All of those items (and many more besides) have defined roles and the ability to provide a healthy return on my investment.
The M2 iPad Pro needs to fight hard against all of that stuff to deserve a place in my studio, and it has lost the battle, big time.
Tech reviews are changing (or… they SHOULD be)
There will always be a place for spec- and benchmark-based reviews of tech products. I greatly admire those who publish them; they are far ahead of me when it comes to their technical knowledge, and they provide an important service for people who value that kind of thing.
However, I think tech reviews are changing. Audiences are smarter than ever; they can spot a commercially-influenced video a mile off, and while there’s nothing wrong with such content (providing the opinion remains the sole property of the reviewer), I think those of us who stand in front of the camera do need to up our game a bit.
It isn’t enough to just sit there and reel off specs. Anyone can do that, and, equally, anyone can find that stuff on the product’s official webpage. It’s also not enough to run comparisons of one product against another – it’s an important point of reference, but it’s not really the driving factor for most purchases. More importantly, it isn’t holding the manufacturers to account; we’re just mirroring their own PR and marketing material.
Consumers demand value and enjoyment from tech. Businesses need a decent return on their investment, whether that be in cold, hard cash said device helps generate, or from many years of faultless service. That’s why I focus on how technology feels and the measurable – and sometimes, intangible – impact it has on my life or business.
The new iPad Pro is a brilliant example of a product that is almost unreviewable. The differences between this version and the M1 version are minuscule. Even comparing it against my 2018 iPad Pro is pointless; you get a slightly better screen, and an improved camera system… and that’s it. The capabilities of the chip inside remain completely irrelevant for most people.
I genuinely don’t know how to review the new iPad Pro, and the last thing I’m going to do is revert to a flat pack review where I reveal the specs, try out the Apple Pencil ‘hover mode’ thing for a few seconds, and run some benchmarks. Who cares?
I appreciate this might not be enough for you. I know this may rub a few folk the wrong way. After all, here I am in possession of a brand-new M2-powered 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and I can’t even be bothered to get it out of the box.
This is the honest truth, though – I have absolutely NO idea what to do with it. I can’t be bothered to faff around with DaVinci Resolve, I’m not an illustrator, and there’s literally nothing I can do personally to put that M2 chip to the task.
I’ll make a promise, though, because I really do want to insert an iPad Pro more wholesomely into my production process. So, as soon as Apple does something which gives me a reason to invest in this device, I’ll do so. I’ll spec it up, add every accessory required and really go for it. You have my word.
As for buying guidance on this latest iPad Pro, if you absolutely need one and don’t have an iPad Pro manufactured after 2018, go for it – you’ll love the new one. If, like me, you need something more – hold onto what you’ve got and save your money.
I’m waiting, Tim. In the meantime, I’ll pop this one back in the post – thank you.