Apple Promotes USB-C In iPad Pro For 4K And 5K Displays. But With A Ridiculous Catch
Stephan Jukic – October 30, 2018
Apple is famous for its sometimes impractical new connectors in their latest generations of devices and for some users, these sorts of details sometimes get frustrating enough for serious complaint. To counter these sorts of details, the company is now making something of an effort to promote just how useful the USB-C ports on its iPad Pro are for those of you how might want to connect your own iPad to high-end cameras, musical peripherals and, most interestingly of all, 4K or 5K displays.
The native displays of Apple’s new iPad Pro models come in edge-to-edge 11 inch and 12.9 inch screen sizes but with their USB-C connectivity, the right fort of 4K or 5K display can easily be connected to them for some immense increases in viewing space and fine resolution. Furthermore, due to the sheer power of their internal processing and image rendering specs, the iPads are more than up to the task of handling these sorts of resolutions between their internals and these kinds of ultra HD displays.
Incidentally, Apple itself sells both 5K and 4K desktop computing displays with hardware included. We ourselves have reviewed a couple of these.
According to Apple’s VP of hardware engineering, John Ternus in comments at Apple’s October 30th promotional event:
“A high-performance computer deserves a high-performance connector and so with these new iPad Pros, we’re moving to USB-C. This brings a whole new set of capabilities to the iPad Pro like connecting to accessories that change how you use your iPad: cameras, musical instruments or even docks. Or connecting to high resolution external displays up to 5K.”
The Apple executive also mentioned that the new iPad Pro tablets are powerful enough to handle connecting to both 4K/5K displays and data accessories like media devices “at the same time”.
The USB-C connector on these iPads is a replacement to the Lightning connecters in older Apple devices and can support data transfer at speeds that are more than enough for 5K video resolution. It also supports USB 3.1 Gen 1 high-bandwidth data pass-through, with DisplayPort 1.3 being included as well. This means, again, support for 5120 x 2880 resolutions on compatible monitors (with the right connectors on their end as well of course).
On the unfortunate side of this –and here is where Apple’s connectivity hassles come into play again–, monitors with their own compatible USB-C connectors are still very rare. Ironically, even Apple’s own 5K Monitors and LG’s UltraFine 5K displays (which were built for use with Apple technology) only come with Thunderbolt 3 connectors, so they too are incompatible with the iPad Pro’s USB-C connectivity.
In other words, users who actually want to hook these tablets up to a more typical 4K display or any 5K monitor they have will also have to shell out extra cash for USB-C to HDMI or USB-C to DisplayPort cables, which Apple claims are supported by its USB-C connectors due to their “alternate modes”. A bit inconvenient so far.
The iPad Pro 11 and iPad Pro 12.9 inch models are already available for order for prices of $799 and $999 respectively. They don’t come with USB-C connector cables included but since you probably won’t need them anyhow, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.