“I am a tablet man, specifically an iPad man. I do love my trusty, iconic, MacBook Air laptop. But, except for heavy writing, I’m likelier to grab my iPad Air or even my diminutive iPad mini to get work done,” Walt Mossberg writes for The Verge. “That includes everything from email to photo cropping; from reviewing and annotating PDFs to signing legal documents and editing articles and spreadsheets. I surf the web on it, run Slack on it, use it for Facebook and Twitter, business and personal video calls, and even keep my calendar on it.”

“While the iPad hasn’t entirely replaced my laptop, it has replaced so many of the scenarios for which I used my laptop in the past that I turn to the laptop much less often,” Mossberg writes. “So I was quite intrigued when Apple announced the iPad Pro, a new, jumbo-sized iPad with an optional snap-on physical keyboard cover and stylus for drawing. This whopping slate can be ordered starting today, and I’ve been testing it for the past week. In fact, I wrote much of this column on an iPad Pro with Apple’s Smart Keyboard. For comparison, I also used a new iPad Pro keyboard from Logitech, and a MacBook Pro to write portions.”

“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,” Mossberg writes. “Second, I was disappointed with Apple’s optional keyboard case… 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… 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.”

Tons more in the full review – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: Well, there you have it, a decidedly mixed review from Mossberg. Keep in mind that this review is coming from someone with little or no need for the Apple Pencil – “I’m not a graphics guy. I’m bad at drawing, photo touchups, and even taking notes in freehand on a screen. But even I am blown away by the Apple Pencil” – and who is heavily reliant, likely more than most users, on being able to do one thing: Type.

Apple’s Smart Keyboard is an interesting conundrum. Obviously, Apple eschewed physical keyboards with iOS and Muti-Touch. Is it possible that when asked to design a physical keyboard for iPad after all these years, Jony Ive & Co. looked at the project with disdain and therefore subconsciously did not put full effort into its design?

Notice that the Apple Pencil is universally lauded, while the Apple Smart Keyboard earns barely a “meh.” Well, just look at who designed them: Designers. Who’d better to put maximum effort into perfecting a drawing implement while looking at designing “yet another keyboard” as a chore? It’s not difficult to imagine Apple’s top designers being excited to work on Apple Pencil while passing the “boring” keyboard down the line to lesser ranked team members.

You’re not going to get a glowing review from a writer when your new companion keyboard isn’t best-in-class.

The Verge reviews Apple’s iPad Pro: Could this replace my MacBook? – November 11, 2015