The iPad Pro has always seemed like a confusing device to me. It’s significantly more expensive than the (very capable!) iPad and iPad Air. iPadOS is still not a great environment for multitasking. And Apple still hasn’t made a case for why exactly you’d want a superpowered tablet in the first place (simplified versions of Final Cut Pro and Audition aren’t enough!). If you’re trying to get serious work done, you’re better off buying a slightly used last-gen MacBook Pro rather than shelling out $1,000 or more for an advanced tablet.

Still, something about this year’s iPad Pros compels me.

Apple Magic Keyboard

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Taken individually, most of the tablet’s new features seem inconsequential. It’s the first device with Apple’s M4 chip, which has significantly better AI performance than its earlier M-series hardware. It has a “tandem” OLED display that brings two OLED panels together for better performance. And both the 11-inch and 13-inch iPad Pro are incredibly thin and light (the latter model is the thinnest device Apple has ever made, measuring 5.1mm).

But when you wrap all these improvements together and pair them with a redesigned MacBook-like Magic Keyboard, the iPad Pro M4 starts to look more and more like the ultralight computer of my dreams. A super-powerful machine that’s easy to take anywhere, with a beautiful screen for watching TV shows and a functional keyboard for typing on the go. Maybe I’m just fascinated by the side profile of the iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard, which looks like it was designed by Sid Mead in the 1990s, imagining how laptops might be transformed in a few decades.

iPad Pro M4 with Magic KeyboardiPad Pro M4 with Magic Keyboard

I admit that the new iPad Pro looks very similar to the 2022 model. But, as the kids say, it just hits differently now. This year’s iPad Pro is thinner than I ever thought possible, and the revamped Magic Keyboard solves most of the issues I had with earlier versions, thanks to the aluminum top cover, function keys, and larger touchpad.

Part of the appeal, at least for me, is that Apple has also taken the idea of ​​a tablet computer a step further than Microsoft’s Surface tablets. While these devices can function like genuine PCs and run full Windows applications, Microsoft hasn’t improved the keyboard covers or overall design in years. If you want to keep the Surface on your lap, you’ll still have a kickstand that sinks into your legs and a fairly nimble typing experience. The iPad Pro M4, on the other hand, now looks more like a real laptop.

I now realize that some of this passion for gadgets comes from covering Apple’s recent unveiling. I’ve been thinking too much about the iPad these past few days and it’s taken a toll. You could potentially get a laptop-like PC experience from an entry-level iPad or iPad Air when paired with a keyboard case. But then again, I already bought a 10th generation iPad The Logitech Thin Film keyboard and I don’t really use it much for typing. It’s fine for writing something short like emails, but the unsatisfactory keys make it difficult to get into the writing flow.

I’d also feel better about jumping to an iPad Pro once iPadOS becomes an even better multitasking platform. Stage Manager is a start, but it’s a bit clunky and difficult to navigate. Of course, Apple is limited by what’s possible on smaller displays, but I can imagine that the iPad (along with the iPhone and Mac) will become much more functional once the company starts rolling out its rumored native AI models.

What if Siri could accurately record your shopping list, pull prices from local stores, and share it with your friends. What if it could automatically edit your vacation videos to post on Instagram? Now imagine being able to do these things without losing focus from email on your screen or your company’s Slack channel. Multitasking doesn’t necessarily have to involve jumping between multiple apps. With AI improvements down the line, we could potentially perform complex tasks with natural language, and our devices could better predict what we actually need.

iPad Pro 2024iPad Pro 2024

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Price is another obvious problem with the iPad Pro. It’s always been expensive, but Apple is really pushing the envelope with these new models. Both the 11-inch and 13-inch tablets are $200 more than before, starting at $999 and $1,299, respectively. While it’s nice to see them with 256GB of storage by default (up from 128GB), creative professionals will probably want to spend another $200 to get 512GB.

However, if you want the full 10-core CPU power of the M4 chip, you’ll have to pay for at least 1TB of storage, making the 11-inch iPad Pro $1,599. Want nano-textured glass to further reduce glare? That’s another $100. Oh, and don’t forget the Magic Keyboard! It’s $299 or $349 more, depending on the size. If you really want to pitch the iPad Pro as a laptop, it’s easy to get close to $2,000.

Alternatively, you can just get the MacBook Air for $1,299 or the $1,599 14-inch MacBook Pro. Maybe add another $200 to get 16GB of RAM. At least with these machines, you get bigger screens, excellent keyboards, the full desktop power of macOS, and more than one connection port. If you really want an iPad Pro experience, you can always keep an eye out for used or refurbished 2022 models that come with the very capable M2 chip.

Considering how expensive it is, I probably won’t be buying a new iPad Pro anytime soon. But the desire is certainly there, sitting somewhere deep within me, ready to take over my cognitive functions the moment those pills drop in price.

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