iPad Pro review time: a great product that you shouldn’t buy?

Walt Mossberg on The Verge has written an impressive, sincere and up to the point review. Three problems arises according to that piece: it’s “too big and bulky“, the keyboard case (just one angle, no backlightning, not many shortcuts) is disappointing (“I kept wishing for a trackpad, so I didn’t have to keep reaching for the screen“, something that Lauren Goode, the other reviewer, also misses there), and few apps take advantage of the greater screen state.

The Apple Pencil is great but not perfect either according to Mossberg, who points out the fact that “there’s no place to store it, or even to magnetically attach it when it’s not in use

ipadpro3

Those reviewers agree on one thing: the hardware is there, the software not so much. That’s important: the apps are not ready for the iPad Pro. I guess they will be at some point, but that could be a problem for early users. The new dual-window mode seems nice but it’s not a real replacement for multi-window management on a desktop OS. Andrew Cunningham at Ars Technica goes deeper on this and explains how many apps don’t render well on the new screen resolution, and reveals that “iOS 9’s multitasking still needs a lot of work“. The conclusions about the software are pretty evident:

There’s no exposed filesystem, no easy official way to install apps from outside the App Store, no iOS version of Xcode for developers. Connecting external accessories (cameras or SD cards, mics or audio interfaces) requires dongles and adapters and, occasionally, external power supplies. There’s no true multi-display support to speak of.

Cunningham goes further and tells us he feels the iPad Pro is a “sometimes computer“, which is probably a good definition of a product that wants precisely to be that. And although that could be enough for some people -artists and designers, for example-, I read the reviews and I can’t help but thinking about what a great product this seems and how no one reviewer really recommends it.

By the way, take a look at TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino review: he gives a different perspective, one in which he understands that Apple is just exploring the future with this device, as the company did with the MacBook previously this year. I’d say the former is the future for tablets, and the latter, the future for laptops. Fortunately, we’ll have many things in between.

 

Will the iPad Pro be able to save the iPad?

I’m blind to adjectives (and quotations) in press releases. That’s part of my education as a tech journalist, so I must really pay attention to read words like epic, groundbreaking, gorgeous or stunning.

But Apple and others have to try. Their mission is to make the world a better place sell products, and you often can’t be neutral when you do that at your company. Apple must do something else with the new iPad Pro: revive the category that’s suffering a lot.

The iPad Pro is a niche product. It escapes from that family target and identifies itself as a very special laptop replacement. One that is really a tablet, but that can outperform real laptops. The trade-off is evident, and there are three letters that define it:

iOS.

The strange thing about the iPad Pro is that it validates what Microsoft did with the Surface, but it does with that significant change. You can be quite productive with iOS, I guess, but that stubbornness is irritating. Apple, you’re competing with your own MacBook and MacBook Air (both on price and/or dimensions), so why would I decide an iPad Pro is better than that?

I guess the Apple Pencil is the only good answer for that.

I don’t know if that would be enough to save the iPad, but I predict the rest of the models will follow. Why do the Apple Pencil makes sense in the iPad Pro and not in the rest of the iPad family?

It does, and even the Smart Keyboard applies to that idea. But paying $799 for the ability to draw in a powerful tablet is something I wouldn’t recommend to anyone but artists and design professionals.

The rest will do far better with a laptop or a tablet. Or a smartphone, for that matter.

Source: Apple – Press Info – Epic 12.9-inch iPad Pro Available to Order Online Wednesday & Arrives in Stores Later This Week