iPad Pro Review Roundup: Stellar device, but no PC replacement

With the iPad Pro already open for pre-order, the first wave of iPad reviews have already hit the web.

Apple iPad Pro reviews

Apple's highly anticipated iPad Pro opened up for pre-orders on Wednesday and is slated to go on sale later this week. With iPad sales on the decline, it'll be extremely interesting to see if the iPad Pro can not only convince existing iPad owners to upgrade, but attract new buyers into Apple's tablet ecosystem as well.

Ahead of the iPad Pro's impending release, Apple doled out review models to a number of select publications for review. From what we've seen thus far, the iPad Pro, for a variety of reasons, appears to be the most exciting and compelling new iPad launch in years. That being the case, still don't expect it to be a full-on replacement for full-fledged computers anytime soon.

Below, we've compiled a few of the more noteworthy iPad Pro reviews to help give you a sense of what to expect from Apple's new gargantuan tablet.

Up first, we have Walt Mossbeg of The Verge. Mossberg is typically pretty gung-ho when it comes to new Apple products, but believe it or not, he can't bring himself to recommend the iPad Pro to buyers. It's not that Mossberg isn't a fan of the iPad Pro, it's more that he simply doesn't see the value proposition for the average buyer.

You can get a lot more done with iPad apps than with the paltry selection of tablet/touch-first apps available for the Surface. But, because Apple hasn’t made a great keyboard, the iPad Pro isn’t a complete replacement for a great laptop like the MacBook Air — even for a tablet guy like me.

The iPad Pro will no doubt make a lot of Apple users happy, especially if they use it for graphics. But I won’t be buying one, and I don’t recommend that average users do so either.

Next, we have Andrew Cunningham's impressively in-depth review of the iPad Pro for Ars Technica. One particular gripe highlighted by Cunningham is how multitasking is limited. Indeed, it's hard to fathom why Apple, or anyone, is positioning the iPad Pro as an adequate replacement when the power afforded by full-powered desktops and notebooks is so much greater.

The iPad Pro is perhaps the ideal showcase for iOS 9’s multitasking features, but it doesn’t change the fact that those features are still rudimentary and restrictive compared to what you’d get in a traditional desktop OS. If anything, my heavier use of those multitasking features on the iPad Pro made it easier to spot their shortcomings.

The most problematic element is the secondary app switcher, the long list of Split View-compatible apps you have to swipe through to switch between them. The UI still fits a maximum of three app icons on the screen at once, and those icons do nothing with all the space they’re using—no preview of what the app’s current state is, no quick shortcuts to jump straight into certain sections of the app, nothing.

But that's not to say it's all negative news for Apple's new tablet. On the contrary, the Apple Pencil, the stylus that comes as a $99 accessory for the iPad Pro, seemingly received universal praise in every single review.

To wit, here's TechCrunch's take on the stylish accessory.

I’m a dabbler, but have long since given up any serious pencil work. So to evaluate the iPad Pro and Pencil as a creative tool, I brought in my dad, Thomas Panzarino, who is a working artist (you can see his stuff here) to noodle on it. You can see his reactions in the video review, but overall he was very impressed. I’ve had him use a regular iPad and stylus combo before, and he wasn’t wowed. I also had him take a Surface Pro for a spin — but the iPad Pro and Pencil just destroyed it when it came to fluidity and precision.

The Pencil probably deserves its own review, but Apple did so much to the iPad Pro to make it a welcome home for the stylus that it belongs here. The stylus is well built, with some really nice details. It’s weighted properly, just a tad heavier than a graphite pencil and well balanced. It’s long enough to choke back on it to get some nice leverage for shading, and the perfect thickness.

Mashable also came away impressed with the Apple Pencil.

The responsiveness is exquisite and the Pencil tip material offers just the right balance between friction and smoothness on the iPad Pro’s touch screen. Pressure sensitivity is about as close as you’re going to get to actually drawing on real paper. It even supports shading, letting me hold the Pencil at an extreme angle to access the virtual long-edge of a graphite pencil or wide magic marker. What’s more, there is almost no perceptible visual space between the Pencil tip and the digital line that appears on screen. All that combined with the iPad Pro's impressively large canvas (I have room for a full drawing and reference material) make this a fantastic drawing experience.

All told, it appears that the iPad Pro is a stellar device. The screen has been tweaked, the battery life is out of this world, and the screen real estate is truly impressive. The looming question, however, is whether or not the device truly provides enough of a value proposition to get consumers excited about the iPad again.

With respect to pricing, the iPad Pro will certainly take a few bills out of your wallet. The device starts at $799 for 32GB of storage and Wi-Fi connectivity. The upper-tier iPad Pro will set you back $1079 and comes with 128GB of storage and cellular connectivity. Notably, if you want to tack on the Apple Pencil or a new smart keyboard, those additions will cost you $99 and $169 respectively.

Lastly, some other reviews worth checking out if you're contemplating or even just casually interested in Apple's new tablet can be found over at Wired and Fast Company.

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