Apple kicks off iPad Pro preorders online, in-store pickup starts today

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As promised, Apple on Wednesday initiated preorders sales of its all new iPad Pro, the company's first ever 12.9-inch tablet with Smart Connector and support for Apple Pencil, announcing immediate in-store availability.

Apple activated the iPad Pro purchase page and corresponding "buy" links on the tablet's informational webpage at around 12:30 a.m. Pacific time. The online store is currently showing full stock of all models with many locales showing in-store pickup availability starting today.

Expedited shipments arrive on Nov. 13 and free shipments push delivery out to Nov. 16. The company earlier this week announced it would start sales today, but did not disclose predicted ship-by estimates.

At the time of this writing, the $99 Apple Pencil and $129 Smart Keyboard are showing wait times of at least one week, with arrival dates between Nov. 19 and Nov. 27, or Nov. 20 and Nov. 30, depending on shipping method.

Apple's iPad Pro starts at $799 for 32GB with Wi-Fi, while a 128GB Wi-Fi-only version comes in at $949. The top-tier 128GB model with Wi-Fi +Cellular rings in at $1,079. Apple is making all three models available in the usual silver, gold and space gray color options.

Sporting a 12.9-inch Retina display with 5.6 million pixels, iPad Pro is the largest tablet to come out of Cupertino. Powering those pixels is an all-new A9X processor said to rival most portable PCs. Despite its extra-large screen and power-hungry internals, iPad Pro manages to eke out 10 hours of battery life thanks in part to clever engineering like variable screen refresh rates and a large array of internal batteries.

iPad Pro also includes a special hardware subsystem for interacting with Apple Pencil, a pressure- and tilt-sensitive input device designed for drawing, sketches and notes. Apple Pencil boasts a built-in Lightning connector for easy pairing and charging, while a quick charge mode gives users 30 minutes' worth of juice in just 15 seconds.

The Smart Keyboard is a take on Apple's Smart Cover products, attaching to iPad Pro via the magnetic Smart Connector port. A hardwired connection provides a two-way flow of power and data, effectively replacing built-in keyboard batteries and Bluetooth connections.

During a recent UK press tour, Apple CEO Tim Cook said he only uses an iPad Pro and iPhone when traveling, later suggesting the jumbo slate can serve as a laptop replacement.