How many new Apple products hit the streets late last year? Three iPhone models, two new iPad Pro models, a lustworthy upgrade to the Mac mini, and a replacement for the aging MacBook Air. A new iPhone is automatic. What else?
Since mobility rules, and money does not, I had to choose between a new iPad Pro and the new MacBook Air. I could not justify both. Daily usage does not require lots of horsepower, but does require a keyboard. To keep the comparison similar, I put the 12.9-inch iPad Pro against the 13-inch MacBook Air. I consider that size to be the best form factor for mobile work.
First, the iPad Pro. The larger of the two Pro models comes in a variety of storage capacities, but entry-level 64GB is too small and 512GB and beyond is too much and too expensive. So, I chose the 256GB version with Wi-Fi. $1,149. Apple’s Smart Keyboard Folio has a solid feel to it and combines iPad Pro case with keyboard, another $199, for a grand total of $1,348, plus AppleCare, tax, etc.
Second, the MacBook Air. To keep the comparison somewhat similar I chose the 256GB SSD version at $1,399. These days I keep plenty of files floating around on iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive, but most Macs in the Nowak household stick around nearly five years so more storage is better than not enough. Grand total is $1,399.
I chose the MacBook Air over the iPad Pro.
iPad Pro is overkill with extra horsepower and capabilities I don’t need in a mobile device (camera, graphics, iOS applications). The Mac has applications that are more powerful than many iPad Pro applications (MAMP, Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Cloud), and the keyboard has shortcuts that work as expected and a time honored workflow. I have an older iPad and using a Bluetooth keyboard with iOS 12’s cumbersome file management is not worth the effort.
As good as the iPad Pro’s Smart Keyboard Folio seems to be, it’s not a real keyboard in the Mac sense, and the MacBook Air’s new butterfly keyboard may be the best ever even if keyboards remain like politics and religion.
The decision boiled down to usability for required tasks.
The iPad’s display is better. The Mac’s keyboard is better. iOS is intuitive and improves each year, but macOS has capabilities that handheld devices do not have (keyboard shortcuts, trackpad, accessories, network utilities). The decision would have been easier if the Mac had a similar cellular option, but that would have increased the price tag, increased the monthly cellular service fee, and my iPhone already has a HotSpot option.
It was a tough decision and required a few trips to a few Apple Stores. In the end, the Mac does specific tasks with ease while the same tasks on an iPad are cumbersome at best.