The embargo has lifted and the iPad Pro review fest has begun. Apple gave a bunch of websites and publications four days to test the 2018 iPads, and the early verdicts are in.

What’s interesting to me in reading them is that Apple has made its marketing job very much harder by positioning the device so strongly as ‘a computer.’ Most reviews judged the device in that light, and found it wanting.

But a couple of them suggested that perhaps that view is old-fashioned, and that the next generation will consider a finger and pencil a much more natural device than a trackpad. Check out the Mashable and Washington Post reviews below for that perspective …

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CNET

CNET’s iPad Pro review describes it as a ‘big beautiful tablet,’ but said it has too many compromises as an all-round device.

Now I’m commuting with the 2018 12.9-inch iPad Pro. I’m writing this review on it. It’s got a great keyboard case, though it could use a trackpad. It’s got a big, laptop-like screen. It’s more portable than the last version. But it doesn’t solve the final few things I need to make it a true laptop […]

The Good: The 2018 iPad Pro sports a gorgeous new all-screen design, Face ID and scary-fast performance. The new Pencil is a huge step forward in terms of design and charging.

The Bad: Keyboard Folio Case and Pencil are necessary accessories that jack up the already-high total price. None of your old iPad accessories will work, including the Pencil. Headphone jack is gone, and single USB-C port won’t pay dividends until more compatible accessories arrive.

The Bottom Line: The new iPad Pro is in many ways the pinnacle of tablet hardware design, but its nosebleed price and software limitations narrow its appeal to creatives willing to bend to its current compromises.

Daring Fireball

John Gruber says that Moore’s Law still applies to the iPad, and while it’s not a MacBook, it’s not just a tablet.

The iPad Pro is like a computer from an alternate universe. In the normal universe, Moore’s Law has stopped delivering significant year-over-year returns, and high-performance portables need fans to cool them. In the iPad universe, Moore’s Law still delivers year after year, and a super-fast, genuinely “pro” portable needs no fan […]

At the hands-on area after last week’s event, Apple was showing Adobe Lightroom editing 50 megapixel RAW images from a Hasselblad camera. The photos were by Austin Mann, who was there, and helpfully demoed the software, showing what a real pro photographer would do in real life with real images. The experience was completely fluid and instantaneous […]

These iPad Pros aren’t cheap. Throw in a $179 Smart Keyboard Folio and $129 Apple Pencil and even the $799 base model will run you over $1,100 all told. (The 12.9-inch Smart Keyboard Folio is $199.) But these aren’t “just tablets”. They’re tablets, yes, but there’s no just to them. Dollar for dollar, they’re a better value than any MacBook Apple has ever made. They match — and in some areas exceed — the CPU and GPU performance of MacBook Pros that cost $3000 or more. These are serious iPads for serious iPad users.

Engadget

Engadget tested the 12.9-inch model and said the size difference is key, while USB-C might be a game-changer but can also be frustrating.

The bigger of this year’s new iPad Pros is about two-tenths of a pound lighter than the original. And while that might not sound like a lot, it makes a huge difference in how easy the Pro is to use.

What used to require two hands to use can now be handled with one hand (though people with small hands might prefer the smaller 11-inch model). Reading on the subway is easier. Holding it up while watching YouTube videos in bed is easier. It fits more easily into my already too full backpack […]

USB-C might be a game changer […] While messing around in GarageBand, I used that port to connect a Blue Yeti microphone and record audio that sounded noticeably better than when I used the tablet’s built-in mic [and] when it came time to edit the photos you see in this story, I just popped in my Canon’s SD card — the iPad launched the Photos app and allowed me to directly import my pictures to the device’s internal storage.

Not everything I tried actually worked, though. Rather than allowing you to, say, move images and documents around using iOS’s built-in Files app, plugging in a USB thumb drive just prompts Photo to try and import whatever is on it. That’s the thing about using this connector sometimes, though: You’ll never really know what to expect until you plug something into it […] I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how I’ve been able to put that new connector to use, but I’m starting to get tired of this guessing game.

Laptop Mag

Laptop said that the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is ‘the most powerful mobile device ever made,’ but the Surface Pro is a better bet for those who want an all-in-one machine.

The iPad Pro is the quintessential tablet for power users and creative pros. It’s so fast that I imagine the likes of Qualcomm and Intel are getting nervous. This tablet wiped the floor with premium Windows laptops and 2-in-1s, in both benchmarks and real-world tests. The iPad Pro’s display, sound and battery life are also top-notch, and the improved Apple Pencil is more comfortable and easier to store.

However, it’s going to take some time for developers to tap the potential of the A12X Bionic chip. For instance, a fully optimized version of Photoshop for the iPad is shipping in 2019, complete with Apple Pencil and touch support — not a watered-down Photoshop, but the real deal.

If you’re looking for a true laptop replacement, the Surface Pro 6 is a better option. It’s not as speedy, but Microsoft’s 2-in-1 offers a more comfortable keyboard with a touchpad and a true desktop environment.

Then again, Apple didn’t set out to create a 2-in-1. The company wanted to deliver the ultimate mobile device for those who like the idea of using touch and Pencil input most of the time. And if you’re in that target audience, nothing comes close to the iPad Pro.

Mashable

Mashable says the 12.9-inch model is the ‘iPad Extreme,’ and although it’s still limited by iOS, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

How much of a “real” computer experience can you get with the new iPad Pros is what I wanted to know. Can it finally replace a laptop the way a Surface Pro can? The answer: Maybe, kinda, sorta.

There’s no question the new iPad Pros, with their spankin’ boxier design and slimmer bezels, are beautiful slabs of glass; Face ID is awesome, they’re even more powerful than any iOS device or competing tablets, and they can do some seriously incredible things with the right apps.

But the tablets are hampered by the same limitations of previous iPads (Pro or not): iOS on an iPad still isn’t as robust for general work as a MacBook running macOS. That doesn’t, however, mean the iPad Pro’s strengths aren’t better than its weaknesses, though […]

It’s challenging to convince people who have already established a way of working to create with new tools and in a different way. It definitely felt weird at first for me to edit a video by essentially “drawing” with it using an Apple Pencil with the iPad Pro laid flat on a table instead of on a display parallel to my face. But after a few hours doing things in this new way, it felt natural. Working on a video felt new and the lightbulbs were going off in my head like they haven’t in ages.

This physical closeness with digital content creation is a paradigm shift from mouse and keyboard. On a laptop or computer, you click on things and it feels mechanical and inhuman. With an iPad Pro, you’re touching the glass with your fingers, you’re slicing clips or drawing lines with the Pencil […]

It’s such an intimate creation process that it made me realize that Apple’s not merely trying to change my or your old habits. Apple’s not trying to make the iPad Pro a laptop replacement because the device isn’t one. It’s trying to do something bigger: invent a new way of creating for a new generation that is not bound to the old computing laws of clicking a mouse.

PocketLint

PocketLint says this device may not be a Mac replacement for those with just one machine, but it may well replace a MacBook/MacBook Air for those who have a mobile-only laptop.

Apple has produced an iPad that we suspect many pro users will want – and not just because of the increase in screen size or the thinner design. There is so much here that blurs the lines when it comes to working on the go that it will pique the interest of those who have started to question whether they still need a laptop.

We love the design, we love that Apple has moved to a USB-C connector so you can plug in external monitors (mirrored or dual screen) and the move to Face ID is not only welcomed, it’s a no brainer. There are some downsides there, however. USB-C doesn’t universally support all files on external drives, there’s no support for a mouse or trackpad and this can become expensive very quickly.

Apple might have just relaunched the MacBook Air, but from our experience, this could just very well be your next laptop replacement.

TechCrunch

TechCrunch’s iPad Pro review said that you can’t get the most from the device without the keyboard and Pencil. But when you add in the cost of those, you’re paying a lot of money for something that still isn’t a laptop.

In my opinion, if you want an iPad to do light work as a pure touch device, get yourself a regular iPad. The iPad Pro is an excellent tablet, but really shines when it’s paired with a Pencil and/or keyboard […]

I still don’t think Apple is doing enough in software to support the speed and versatility that is provided by the hardware in the iPad Pro. While split screening apps and creating ‘spaces’ that remain in place to bounce between has been a nice evolution of the iPad OS, it’s really only a fraction of what is possible […]

Apple needs to unleash itself from the shackles of a unified iOS. They don’t have to feel exactly the same now, because the user base is not an infantile one. They’ve been weaned on it — now give them solid food […]

If Apple is able to let go a bit and execute better on making sure the software feels as flexible and ‘advanced’ as the hardware, the iPad  Pro has legs. If it isn’t able to do that, then the iPad will remain a dead end. But I have hope. In the shape of an expensive ass pencil.

TechRadar

TechRadar reviewed the 11-inch model and said that it has ‘an insane amount of power for a tablet,’ but questions whether it justifies the price premium for most users.

Apple called this new model ‘the iPad we wanted to make from the beginning’ – but while this is easily the best tablet Apple has ever made, there’s a big question over whether the ‘average’ user will really get enough benefit out of the new iPad Pro to warrant the extra cost over the ‘basic’ iPad launched earlier this year […]

The 11-inch screen itself has been upgraded by Apple to use a Liquid Retina display, something we first saw on the iPhone XR when it launched recently. It’s not got the same stunning effect you get from an OLED display – such as those you might find on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4, and with the high price the new iPad Pro commands, not having the best screen technology irks […] The overall effect of the larger screen is impressive when compared side by side with the older tablet, but you’ll probably be surprised how much bezel there still is. […]

If you don’t have a pair of Bluetooth headphones, or have a lovely wired pair of cans you want to use, you’re going to have to spend more money on this tablet […]

For a number of reasons the iPad Pro 11, despite the power and high price, still doesn’t manage to be a true laptop replacement. You can’t right click and download a spreadsheet you need for work with ease. If you’re using photos shared in Google Drive and want to download them for editing, it’s a laborious process […] Even us, trying to write this whole review on an iPad Pro to test how difficult it was, slunk back to a laptop with larger and more tactile keyboard in search of a more pleasant typing experience.

The Verge

The Verge got the 12.9-inch model and said that it’s a powerhouse, but still not a MacBook replacement.

Apple introduced the new iPad Pro with a spectacular series of statistics that made laptops seem like old news. More iPads are sold than any other company’s entire laptop lineup! The new iPad Pro with an eight-core A12X processor is faster than 92 percent of portable PCs sold today! The graphics performance is 1000 times faster than the first-generation iPad and now rivals an Xbox One S! It has a USB-C port that can drive 5K displays […]

But computers are about more than just sales and processor specs: they’re about software. And the one thing Apple didn’t really change on the iPad Pro is iOS 12, which has all of the same capabilities and limitations iPad users have come to expect. Apple wants you to think that the iPad Pro is the future of computing, but if you’ve already used iOS 12 on an iPad Pro, you know exactly how you feel about that idea.

[For example, USB-C support is great] but one extremely important category of devices will definitely not work: iOS does not support external storage. You can plug as many flash drives or hard drives as you want into the iPad Pro’s USB-C port, and nothing will happen. Apple says third parties can write apps to talk to external storage, but out of the box, this $1899 tablet simply won’t talk to a flash drive.

The one thing iOS can do with external storage devices is import photos […] That’s it […] And to make matters worse, you are required to import to the system camera roll — you can’t import photos directly into an app like Lightroom CC. Apple has to be in the middle […]

I would love to use all the power offered by the A12X, but the iPad app ecosystem is still full of cut-down apps, limited feature sets, and compromises.

The Washington Post

With The Washington Post’s iPad Pro review, Geoffrey Fowler did the kind of test I did when writing computer reviews way back in the 1980s – using the review device and nothing else for a week.

After Apple introduced its redesigned iPad Pro as the future of computing last week, I locked up my laptop and tried using the new iPad for all my work. It’s been like learning to walk with your shoes tied together.

The $1,000 tablet was powerful enough to let me write, edit photos and publish this column with little more than my finger, a stylus and a keyboard case. But I also never figured out an efficient way to multitask, sit with decent posture and work for hours, or keep it balanced on my lap.

Filing expense reports with my finger frustrated me to the point I wrote a sonnet to my missing mouse. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. How your speed and precision fill my days […]

Apple isn’t wrong to call the iPad the future. Ask any two-year-old who already knows how to use one. It just has to figure out finger-first experience for a generation raised on doing work with a mouse and trackpad […]

When Apple first popularized the mouse in the 80s, people complained it required so much wrist motion. When the iPhone first arrived, people complained it lacked a physical keyboard.

I’m sure we’ll look back on the iPad Pro in the same way, but it still has some evolving to do. Until then, bring back my mouse.

Wired

Wired agreed that the 12.9-inch model can be a computer for some people, but has too many limitations for most.

After using a new iPad Pro 12.9 for a few days, I can say that it’s most definitely a refreshing, positive step forward for the iPad. It could also be called a “computer.” Is it the right computer for you? That’s another story […]

By every measure I can think of, these are the best, most powerful, most capable iPads I’ve ever used. They put other tablets to shame. But Apple has begged the question: Can an 11-inch ($799) or 13-inch ($999) iPad Pro replace your need for a MacBook or Windows PC at work? It’s possible, but you’ll need the right kind of occupation, and a lot of patience and determination […]

For example, I wrote this review on the Pro in Google Docs while also opening webpages on the right side of my screen, but it took me longer than normal to do research and collect links—and a good long while to figure out how to do other tasks. I wanted to use the normal web version of Docs, but I had to use the app […] Attaching specific files was kind of a nightmare in the Gmail app, too. Some apps, like Spotify, don’t allow Split View multitasking (side-by-side viewing) at all yet.

[The main limitations are]

  • Still can’t multitask like a PC
  • Some work apps and websites have limitations
  • Smart Keyboard is a little wobbly when used in lap
  • No headphone jack.

It doesn’t feel like the world is ready to treat my iPad as an equal to a PC yet—even if that iPad is a lot more powerful and user friendly.

We’ll of course be bringing you our own reviews of the device. I’ve already kicked off my iPad Pro Diary series with pre-delivery impressions, and will write the next piece once I’ve had a chance to play with it.


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