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iPad Pro REVIEW: Can this replace your PC?

by Brandon Russell | November 24, 2015November 24, 2015 6:00 pm PDT

Since going on sale earlier this month, Tim Cook has been bullish on the iPad Pro. Not only does he believe it’s the best iPad you can buy, but the Apple CEO also thinks it can completely replace your PC.

“I think if you’re looking at a PC, why would you buy a PC anymore?” Cook asked. “No really, why would you buy one?”

In a lot of cases, he’s right. Many people don’t need the power or cumbersomeness of a PC or laptop, making devices like the iPad Pro a great alternative in a market that’s still evolving. But Cook also underestimates what PCs can do; either that or he severely overestimates the capabilities of the iPad Pro, which we’ve been using for the past few weeks.

It’s not that we dislike the iPad Pro. But we don’t love it either, and a lot of the device’s shortcomings seem to hinge on iOS, which wasn’t made to exist on such a big and powerful device. And if Cook gets his way, it’s unlikely we’ll ever see a kind of iOS/OS X hybrid, which means the potential of the iPad Pro might never be fulfilled.

As we approached this review, we wanted to dive in the way Tim Cook intended, which meant ditching our computers and living completely inside Apple’s ecosystem. That meant whatever work that needed to be done, we did using the iPad Pro. No MacBook. No Surface. Just an iPad Pro for everything, from email to editing to watching videos.

Coincidentally, we had planned a trip to Munich, Germany right after picking up our review unit, giving us the perfect opportunity to really put the iPad Pro through its paces. This is the future Tim Cook has been dreaming about—a place where Apple’s new tablet is used on trips and as productivity machines.

So what conclusions did Jon make during his trip? Unless you’re absolutely set on using the Apple Pencil, you’re probably better off sticking with your laptop and buying a smaller iPad.

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The thing about the iPad Pro is that it doesn’t feel much different from Apple’s other iPads. It’s bigger, it’s more powerful, and it supports what is one of the most enjoyable stylus experiences on the market. (Seriously, the Apple Pencil is the real deal.) But, outside of that, it doesn’t match the capabilities of a laptop, and is in a lot of instances held back by iOS.

Jon goes into much more detail about his experience using the iPad Pro on his trip, where he encountered both the good and the bad of Apple’s new device. The good? The Apple Pencil, the powerful A9X chip, and the beautiful screen. The bad? iOS limitations, familiar territory, and the Smart Keyboard, which is awful to use, not to mention really expensive.

Will the iPad Pro help resuscitate the company’s flatlining tablet sales? We don’t see that happening—at least not yet. There’s certainly potential for the iPad Pro to be a complete PC replacement. But until Apple re-thinks what iOS should be over such a large canvas, the iPad Pro is nothing more than just a big iPad. And at $799 for the 32GB model (without the accessories), it’s up there at a luxury price point.

If a hybrid device is what you’re after, you might be better served to look at what Microsoft offers with its Surface Pro line. We’re not asking Apple to do the same with the iPad Pro, but as it stands right now, iOS 9 is nowhere near the point of replacing a desktop OS. Whether iOS 10 will fill the gaps remains to be seen, but it’s very clear Apple has some big challenges ahead if the iPad Pro is to become someone’s only device.

Check out the video above to see Jon’s experience while using the iPad Pro during his trip to Europe.


Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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