Apple’s basic product line has me in something of a quandary of usability. Each product– Mac, iPhone, iPad– have distinct personalities, capabilities, and usability within our daily workflow and play time; each has overlap, each has uses the others do not.
I started my life with Apple products over 20 years ago. Back in those days Apple was all Mac and struggling to survive. Steve Jobs return made Apple thrive and today’s products are the best ever. Still, my roots are Mac, and in recent years many of the daily functions that were once Mac only have moved to Apple’s iOS devices. Is there a Mac of the future?
One needs to marvel that Starbucks has managed to elevate a 50-cent cup of coffee into a $5 must-have drink. Starbucks is always busy and the lines tell me we have addictions sufficient to pay a 10-fold price increase. Where we once purchased a Mac, then a Mac or two as notebooks became the norm, today we have the Mac, iPhone, iPad, Watch, AirPods and Beats headphones, and Apple TV. Each line gets updated frequently enough as to put a strain on my gadget budget.
Is there a single device from Apple’s product line that can do it all? No. iPhone doesn’t have the screen real estate of the Mac. iPad doesn’t have a built-in cellphone. The Mac just isn’t as mobile as either iOS device.
My attempts to pull functionality away from the Mac onto Apple’s ever more mobile devices is an ongoing process. I present to you, The Almost Mac Of The Future. Yes, I bought a new iPad Pro of the 12.9-inch variety and it is stunning, thanks to screen real estate which you won’t find on the iPad Pro 10.5-inch model and definitely not in the iPhone.
Here’s what I did.
That’s the Almost Mac Of The Future. An iPad Pro sitting on a small but sturdy aluminum stand with a Bluetooth keyboard. The whole shebang fits into an iPad Pro case and weighs less and costs than an iPad Pro with Apple’s SmartKeyboard which isn’t smart enough to cover the back of the iPad.
For the desktop, the stand is a Lamicall iPad Stand, available on Amazon for about $16, but many similar stands are available.
The stand lifts iPad Pro up sufficiently to be used as a notebook on a desktop. It’s sturdy and the holder can swivel to different angles with ease.
Not bad, right? Add a keyboard and the iPad Pro begins to look more like a Mac from the future. Need to go? Just grab the iPad and stuff it into whatever case you have, or tote it over to the sofa for content consumption.
Apple’s own Mac keyboards will work with an iPad Pro, but I chose the OMOTON Ultra-Slim Bluetooth keyboard because it is inexpensive, very light, types well, has long battery life, and is one-quarter of an inch thin so it can ride in the iPad Pro’s case.
This one is available on Amazon for about $15, but again, there are many from which to choose.
To that package I added a Fintie iPad Pro case with a cover that mimics a standard school composition book. Out of sight, out of mind security is a good thing. About $16 on Amazon.
The whole package came to $995. That compares well to a less powerful, slightly more capable MacBook or MacBook Pro which starts at $1,299 but isn’t quite as mobile (iPad vs. Mac). The iPad’s camera is better, mobility is excellent, the screen is better than the Mac screens in every way.
Is my package worth the $300 to $400 price differential? iPads have more applications and are far more mobile, yet, with a keyboard, double up well as a Mac for basic applications and requirements. Benchmarks show the new iPad Pro models compare favorably with mid-range MacBook Pro models.
There is much to like here. It’s not a Mac. Yet. I think of it as the Almost Mac Of The Future.