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Hands on: The iPad Pro -- It's a laptop! It's a tablet!

Ken Mingis | Nov. 13, 2015
Deciding whether Apple's new super-sized tablet suits you really depends on how it'll be used.

ipad onscreen keyboard 
The on-screen keyboard on the iPad Pro offers new options. Credit: Ken Mingis

One thing that's not part of of the iPad Pro package is the much-heralded 3D Touch that arrived with this year's iPhones. That technology allows for new ways of navigating apps by pressing harder on the iPhone's screen, popping up various options and actions. Yes, the iPad Pro screen allows you to draw on it with the Pencil, but you'd think 3D Touch would be a natural part of what is now Apple's top-end tablet.

Maybe next year.

Final thoughts

The iPad Pro is a breakthrough device. But I'm not yet sure what it's breaking through. It's the biggest, baddest, bestest iPad ever. So if you just want the ultimate iPad -- that's pretty much me -- you'll be happy. If you're looking to replace a laptop, however, the question of whether you should buy it is murkier. That's in part because of the hardware, and in part because of the operating system.

All computers are in some way compromises between the features you absolutely need, the features you really want, and how much you can pay. Enterprise users who want to plop an iPad Pro on their desks will have to weigh the tablet's high price with what they could get for the same money in a laptop. Is screen-only portability a must-have or a wanna-have? Are you really ready to spend part of your time typing on an accessory keyboard and regularly touching the display to navigate among your apps? Are the apps you need to do your job available on iOS 9?

Answer those questions and you should know whether the iPad Pro is right for you. For me, the iPad is an add-on in my daily computing experience; I expect to continue to use my late-model 15-in. MacBook Pro for my day-to-day editing duties. The iPad Pro will be for more casual tasks, and I expect it to excel at those.

Either way, it's good to see Apple finally fire back in the hybrid wars first launched by the Surface in 2012. (Thanks, Microsoft!) It seems sort of like the old days of the 1990s, with two big innovators continually trying to one-up each other. Even as Microsoft's new Surface Book arrives to take aim at the MacBook Pro, the iPad Pro is now ready to battle the Surface Pro 4.

Ready. Set. Go.

ipad pro and ipad air 2 
The iPad Pro (left, rear) and an iPad Air 2. Credit: Ken Mingis

 

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