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2020 iPad 8th Gen Review: Entry-Level Laptop Replacement?

2020 iPad 8th Gen review

As we anxiously await the availability of new 2020 iPad Air and the upcoming 2020 iPhone models, we’ll first review theiPad 8th Gen – Apple’s latest update to its entry-level tablet offering.

Starting from SGD 499, the 32GB base model is also offered with a storage boost to 128GB for SGD 150 extra, and in a cellular version for SGD 200 more. For extra, you can snag the Apple Pencil or the Smart Keyboard – so thus remains the question: can it be a laptop replacement?

Same iPad, different processor & software

The iPad 8th Generation looks exactly the same as previous iPads. Image: Ian Ling

There’s not much to review when it comes to the hardware of the iPad. It’s the “old-style” design – a larger forehead and chin to house the front-facing camera and Touch ID home button.

Carried over from the 7th Generation iPad is the 3-pin metallic connector on its left long side that allows it to work seamlessly with the Smart Keyboard (SGD 239). Alternatively, you can get an alternative from Logitech (from SGD 129) or from another brands for less.

Also making a comeback is Apple Pencil support. It’s still the 1st Generation Pencil (SGD 138), but you’ll mostly be missing the added double-tap functionality and the nifty magnetic dock that wirelessly juices up your stylus.

Apart from those nifty additions that that boost the entry level offering with the full range of hardware features, you’ll get a decently-sized 10.2-inch Retina display.

A12 Bionic: performance boosts for the 8th Generation iPad

From left to right: overall Compute score, Multi- and Single-Core score comparisons of the iPad 8th Generation against previous iOS devices. Image: Ian Ling via Geekbench 5

Carrying over the same A12 Bionic processor as the 2018 iPhone Xs phones, it certainly isn’t the hardest hitter when it comes to performance. But it’s still a drastic improvement over the iPad 7th Generation’s A10 Bionic chip.

Apple quotes 2X the graphics performance and a 40% boost in CPU speed, but based on benchmarks, Single Core and Compute performance is bang on par with the 2018 iPad Pro with A12X bionic chip, although Multi Core seems to suffer a little.

Everyday tasks are extremely zippy. Text processing in Notes and Pages, and Keynote presentations were effortless. My basic skills on Procreate didn’t cause the iPad 8th Generation to break a sweat.

Performance differences even when it came to video editing on Lumafusion weren’t much an issue either – although 4K projects seemed to take XX% longer than the iPhone 11 Pro Max to render.

Is the 2020 iPad 8th Generation a laptop replacement?

The simple answer for simple use cases: Yes. Full-fledged text processing, presentation applications, email and a full web experience means that the iPad 8th Generation has got most of your mobile computing needs covered. There’s even iPad-specific versions of Microsoft Office and Adobe CC apps for those who need extra oomph.

Scribble on iPadOS allows you to quickly enter text information with the Apple Pencil. Image: Ian Ling

Added features make the iPad an even more attractive option than a similarly-priced laptop for some use cases. Touch-sensitivity and stylus compatibility are two main advantages, in addition to a powerful touch-optimised user interface that makes it fully useful even without a keyboard.

The Smart Keyboard case is mostly useful for on-the-fly text-related tasks like coding and writing, and is easily comfortable for even several-thousand-word-long undertakings. The best part: it folds neatly away if you’re using it in tablet mode for text consumption or with the Apple Pencil.

But with iOS 14, you can even forgo the added cost of the smart keyboard by using Scribble with the Apple Pencil. In essence, the iPad recognises your handwriting (even if it’s a hodgepodge of supported languages!) and converts it into regular text – a useful in-between text-compiling feature without the bulk of a keyboard.

But that’s mostly it: simple. Essentially a different platform and operating system, niche apps designed for MacOS or Windows will not likely be ported over to iPad for the time being. Those who rely on statistical apps and other industry-specific tools might be better off with MacBook or Windows laptop.

But even those with basic needs that are covered with iPad apps like Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and Microsoft Excel might find the small 10.2-inch screen and limited multitasking a frustration.

An increasing number of apps are able to be used in side-by-side multi-window mode, and iPad offers an additional floating portrait pane for quick reference apps like chat and calendar. But the larger display of a laptop, multiple desktops and intuitive window interface can make it a more comfortable tool for hectic days.

Should you get the iPad 8th Generation?

At its price, the iPad 8th Generation is an affordable tool for a wide variety of users. At a meeting? Jot down notes and illustrate ideas on the fly. Answering emails at a cafe or doing up a report? Slap on a keyboard, take advantage of Cellular connectivity to work anywhere.

Pair it with a few kid-friendly apps to keep junior entertained in the evenings, or use it in Sidecar mode with your MacBook for a second screen to stay productive without having to be stuck at a desk.

The baseline iPad has always been a great value proposition, and although the update has mostly been a spec bump with no change to hardware, it’s still an incredibly successful product. Easily the best family of tablets available right now, but also an incredible laptop replacement and nifty mobile secondary screen to boot.

Ian Ling
http://uncommontragedy.com
Ian is the resident Tech Monkey and Head of Content at VR Zone. His training in Economics and Political Science is at the basis of his love for journalism and storytelling. A photographer by passion, and an audiophile by obsession, Ian is captivated by all forms of tech that makes enthusiasts tick.

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