The whole plastic bushing+friction thing on the Pro seemed really, really cheap to me
To me it's the exact opposite: OFR style threaded nuts to fix the whammy bar seem really crude. A push in bar, with washers is much more elegant and when installed properly the washers will last a long time. The choice of one or two washers allows free swinging or fixed position whammy. There will be people who try to put a guitar in its case with the bar in; easy removal of the bar is to be preferred.
OFRs have always looked cheap to me: the whale tail, the stamped base plate, the combined string locks/fine tuners and the trem arm insert. Original Edge at least has a cast base plate, but the other poor features are still there.
every Ibanez trems since the original Edge on, EdgePro and EdgeZero including, allow you to load the strings either with or without ball-ends. you can either cut them off, or you can keep them at the headstock, no matter.
True but, the plastic ball holders on the inside of Edge Pro were specifically designed to allow the ball ends to be kept at the trem side. (stupid reason imho) It might have to do with the fact that some people (read: idiots) wrecked trems by locking the ball end at the saddle or other strange ways of mounting the strings at the trem.
I load the ball ends up through the headstock and that works perfectly! So I'm saying yeah, If I was to buy a new guitar I'd want one with the original Edge.
I can't see any other way working for me, and I have been doing this since at least 1992; The 92 catalogue also shows Steve himself doing that. Makes the Edge Pro seem superfluous. Also means you can leave the nice colour coded D'Addario ball ends on.
As for the original question, I still feel the EZ is a piece of junk: a deal breaker. I have no objection to owning an EP, so would not pay extra for a LoPro. My picking style is incompatible with either OFR or original Edge, so I would not be paying for them at all, let alone extra.
I think the design of the Edge for durability, stability, construction and long term playability outweighs the refinements seen on the Lo-Pro.
I don't agree, the separation of intonation, string locking and fine tuning is essential to stability.
So any construction advances in that direction are indeed an improvement, as could have been the introduction of intonation chips on the EdgePro, unfortunately their construction isn't perfect and there are the non locking posts, obviously.
@Rich, isn't it true that the OFR patents might have run out, but the later LoPro patents haven't? The Edge Zero circumvents those by "improving" on the intonation adjustment.