Mossberg: The iPad Pro can’t replace your laptop totally, even for a tablet lover – The Verge

Read Next: Lauren Goode reviews the iPad Pro

It isn’t that I don’t admire the device. I do. In its typical fashion, Apple has managed to design something thin and beautiful, yet capable. Despite its jumbo size, it’s actually thinner (without the keyboard case) than my 2013-vintage iPad Air and about the same weight as the much smaller original iPad from 2010. And the gorgeous, large display makes great use of the new split-screen feature, available on recent iPads, that allows two apps to run at the same time. The optional stylus, called the Apple Pencil, is brilliant.

While I didn’t do a formal battery test, in my use of the Pro, it easily met Apple’s 10-hour battery claim, even at 75 percent screen brightness and with Wi-Fi going all day to collect emails from three accounts, plus God knows how many Tweets, texts, Slack, and Facebook posts.

On one particular day, I used the Pro to handle all my communications and web browsing, watched a movie that lasted over two hours, participated in a company-wide video call, typed up pages of notes, and played hours of music. And it lasted over 12 hours.

My problem with the iPad Pro is threefold. First, I found it just too big and bulky to hold and use comfortably for long periods. And that was when held horizontally. Held vertically, it was worse, because it felt unbalanced to me.

Second, I was disappointed with Apple’s optional keyboard case. It’s essentially a shallow Mac keyboard, with keys like Command that mean something only in Mac OS X, but not a single shortcut key to an iPad function, like Home or Search. It’s also not backlit, and it has only one angle in which it holds the screen. Additionally, it’s so light and small compared to the screen that I find it difficult to balance properly on my lap for typing. It’s also really costly, at $169.

Apple’s keyboard is actually cleverly made, with flat keys that depend, for their minimal travel, on a special springy fabric that covers the whole thing, which means the keys don’t seem like individual units, but behave that way. I got used to typing on it, on a flat surface. But I just kept looking for shortcut keys that weren’t there. And I kept wishing for a trackpad, so I didn’t have to keep reaching for the screen.

The Logitech Create keyboard for iPad Pro, by contrast, has real individual keys, is backlit, and has a whole row of iPad shortcut keys. Also, it acts as a full case and is $19 less.

Of the three keyboards I used to write this column, I found that the MacBook Pro was best, the Logitech Create second, and Apple’s iPad Pro Smart Keyboard dead last.

Third, I found few apps that took advantage of the greater screen real estate to display panels or functionality often hidden on mobile devices. One of the iPad’s great advantages over other tablets is that it boasts 850,000 apps that have been optimized for tablet use. But few of these used the much bigger screen on the Pro. One example is Google Docs, which still places comments in a text-hiding pop-up window, instead of in the margin as on a laptop. One exception is Slack, which, on the Pro, moves a previously hidden right-hand menu to a permanent position.

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