Assume for a moment you’re in the market for a new notebook. Money is an object, but you want good value for what you can afford to spend. Mac? Or, Windows PC? Or, a Windows Surface-something? Cheap, plastic Chromebook? Wait. There’s another choice.
If money is an object, and you need a mobile device with speed, good screen, plenty of storage, and a device which runs more apps than a Mac or a Windows PC, and integrates well with your iPhone, then the only other choice is the new iPad Pro. Let’s start with the entry level and compare it to a Mac (we’ve already compared the new Macs with the new Microsoft Surface-somethings).
Latest & Greatest
iPad Pro? You think I’m kidding, right? No. For Mac users who peer longingly at a new entry-level MacBook, keep looking. The new series of iPad Pro is the car to the Mac’s truck. If you need a truck, by all means get one of the new Macs because they do the heavy lifting of modern computing.
But if you’re among the vast majority of computerdom and just needs a fast, powerful, lightweight device that does the basics and then some, that’s where Apple is going with the iPad Pro line.
iPad Pro and Cons – start with the 10.5-inch model because it’s entry level. It has better screen resolution– heck, it’s a better screen– than the entry-level MacBook model. What about price?
The beginner class MacBook is $1,299 vs. the 10.5-inch iPad Pro at $749 for the same storage (updated), but the iPad Pro also has a Wi-Fi and Cellular option for $130 more, which you can’t get on the Mac. While storage is the same, the iPad Pro’s RAM starts and stays at 4GB vs. the MacBook starts at 8GB with an option to go to 16GB.
To keep it Apple’s to apples, you’ll need the iPad Pro Smart Keyboard for another $159, which brings the total comparison price tag to $908 (updated) vs. the MacBook at $1,299. What’s interesting about that disparity is the iPad is a faster device than the Mac. In fact, according to Bare Feats’ recent shootouts, the iPad Pro is faster than a well-endowed MacBook Pro running an Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of SSD storage. The MacBook’s screen is smaller than the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which is about the same size as the entry-level MacBook Pro.
The point? A one pound iPad Pro with an Apple designed CPU is more powerful for many tasks– but not all, as you’ll see in a moment– than either a MacBook with an Intel i7 CPU, 16GB RAM, and 256GB SSD storage at $1,749, or a fully loaded, comparably equipped 13-inch MacBook Pro at $2,299.
The MacBook weighs about two pounds. The MacBook Pro comes in at three pounds. The 10.5-inch iPad Pro weighs about a pound. All three devices get about the same battery life. To be fair, the more comparably equipped 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at $899 for 256GB of storage, but ends at $1,058 vs. $1,299 for the MacBook entry-level model.
The Real Story – this is where it becomes difficult to compare Apple to apples. If you use Pages, Numbers, Excel, and other basic applications, including Microsoft Office, either iPad model is a good choice compared to a MacBook or MacBook Pro. Remember the car vs. truck analogy? The Mac is a truck. It can run Windows, Linux, Final Cut Pro, Adobe Creative Suite, and many other apps that take advantage of the Intel architecture– apps which do not always have a comparable equivalent on the iPad App Store.
Keep that in mind when you consider the MacBook. It may not run as many applications as the iPad Pro, but it will run more powerful applications. If you need it, that’s the direction to go. If you don’t, Apple– especially with drag and drop and split screen and other enhancements coming to the iPad in iOS 11 later this summer– makes a good case that an iPad Pro can replace a notebook PC. But it can also replace a more expensive Mac.