Have you heard? Apple launched a bunch of new products just weeks after the latest iPhones and Watch were announced. New Macs. New iPad. It was all over the news and by now you’ve read a dozen different hands on reviews with all the details.
Allow me to focus on my first impressions of the newly redesigned and updated MacBook Air and the highly desirable iPad Pro. Why? I want one of each. My MacBook Pro is an aging beast. My original iPad Pro is, too. Two trips to the downtown new Chicago Apple Store tells me I want both. My credit card balance says one is enough. Which one?
Mac? Or, iPad Pro?
The Apple Store had a new MacBook Air sitting side-by-side with an entry-level MacBook. The MacBook Air is larger, but not much. It’s heavier, but not much. It’s also $100 more for the same storage. MacBook Air has the latest dual-core, 8th generation Intel Inside, improved graphics, dual Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, and Touch ID. It weighs about three Quarter-Pounders more than the MacBook.
The MacBook Air’s display is larger but with roughly the same PPI (pixels per inch) and it seems brighter than the MacBook’s display. The real difference seems to be in the keyboard. Both use a so-called butterfly design but the MacBook Air is a newer keyboard and has a slightly firmer feel. I like that.
I checked out both the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro. My old iPad Pro is a heavy clunker with a hefty case. Both new iPad Pro models are smaller and lighter than previous versions. The displays are brighter, too. The real difference shows up in two areas. First, the keyboard. The Apple Store had each with their respective Apple Smart Keyboard Folio. That keyboard is firm and solid to the touch. Unlike the old Smart Keyboard, the Folio also wraps around the iPad so it can be used as both a keyboard driven device and as a tablet with little effort to move between the two.
Apple likes magnets. Both iPad models have magnets which hold it to one of the keyboard’s two angled settings. Both have a magnet on the top (in landscape mode) to hold and charge the new Pencil. The magnet is strong and Pencil feels secure. I like that Folio acts as a case for the iPad but worry about the exposed keys when used in tablet mode. That might be a non-issue because the keyboard fells and appears firm and durable.
For the money, a 12.9-inch iPad Pro can do much of what a MacBook Pro can do when similarly priced. 4K video editing, for example. Backside camera, too. Even with the Folio keyboard, a 12.9-inch iPad Pro weighs less than a MacBook Air. The iPad Pro’s display is brighter, has more pixels, a slightly higher PPI, and the camera can capture 4K video (and export via USB-C; Lightning is gone).
From my in-store trials I can tell you that iPad Pro has better sound, too. Thinner, lighter, and faster than the MacBook Air with an option for always-on Cellular LTE connection not available on the Mac.
If I can only afford one, which should I buy? Many of my day-to-day tasks– once reserved only for the Mac– have been offloaded to iPhone, iPad, and Watch.
The winner? iPad Pro.