by Jim Lynch

Is the iPad Pro really a good replacement for a Mac?

Feb 05, 2016

Apple is touting the productivity possibilities of the iPad Pro. But is it really a viable replacement for a Mac and OS X? I just don't see it right now.

The iPad Pro has been out for a while now, and the big question for many users is whether or not it can replace their Macbook laptops. And some users have even wondered if it could replace an iMac desktop computer.

Apple has certainly been touting the iPad Pro as an alternative to Macs but is it really a viable option?

Tim Bajarin at Techpinions has a recent post where he talks about the iPad Pro versus Microsoft’s Surface. The part of the post that interests me talks about the iPad Pro, and Tim clearly had a good experience using it for his work as well as for fun stuff.

Here’s a snippet from his post:

As for the iPad Pro, at first I really struggled with such a large iPad and its keyboard case. Although I am a power user on the Mac OS platform, I spend most of my mobile digital time on an iPad Air and am even more proficient with iOS.

As I said, I used an iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard so I sort of knew what the experience would be like. But to be honest, I was not a big fan of Apple’s keyboard case and could never become comfortable using its keyboard. And since I am artistically challenged, even the pen was of little use to me. I did try to take notes using the pen but I can’t read my own handwriting so that was not a big draw either.

But by using my favorite Bluetooth keyboard, the iPad Pro started to live up to its potential for me. The 13″ screen is equal to the ones on my Dell and Lenovo laptops and, since I use iOS so much, using touch to navigate was very easy for me. Apple making iOS a rich mobile OS and adding great new features to it makes the iPad Pro a powerful alternative to my MacBook and Windows laptops.

When Tim Cook announced the iPad Pro, he said it could do as much as 80-90% of what anyone could do on a traditional laptop. On a recent trip, I decided to try that theory out. I only took my iPad Pro with me and used it as if it was my MacBook or a Windows laptop. I found, in general, Cook was right. I wrote email, texted, took notes, wrote and edited my columns. I used it for video, movies, music and Skype videos with clients.

My only problem is it does not cut and paste as easily as it does in Windows 10 or Mac OS X, but that was minor compared to is actual ability.

More at Techpinions

I still prefer a Mac and OS X to the iPad Pro and iOS

I’ve been toying with the idea of getting an iPad Pro for a while now, and I can totally see where Tim is coming from in his post. It seems like the iPad Pro really does have much to offer someone who wants to dump their laptop (or even their desktop) and go with an iOS-based product like the iPad Pro.

But I honestly can’t imagine dumping any of my Macs for an iOS device, even one with as big a screen as the iPad Pro. I do a lot of text editing, and iOS still feels too much like a chore to use for such things. Copying and pasting links, quotes from articles, etc. all seem so much faster to me on a Mac running OS X than on any iOS device I’ve ever used.

I wonder sometimes if it’s an age thing or perhaps that I’m just set in my ways too much to easily adjust to using iOS instead of OS X. As I write this post I’m sitting in front of a 5K iMac with a 27-inch screen, with a Magic Trackpad and a Logitech bluetooth keyboard. I can do everything I need to do quite quickly on this machine, without having to slow down to adjust to a touch screen’s way of doing things.

Obviously an iMac is not meant to be a portable device, but if I were traveling I would opt to bring my Macbook Pro for work purposes rather than the iPad Pro. The power and flexibility I get from OS X still seems much better for work purposes than what iOS can do on the iPad Pro. And my 13-inch Macbook Pro doesn’t weigh a whole lot more than the iPad Pro and a keyboard case.

So I think that the iPad Pro definitely could work for some people, but for others it’s really still a no-go. This may change in the future as iOS matures and develops into an operating system that is competitive with OS X for productivity needs. But right now it still feels like a more primitive way of working, and I just can’t be bothered with it.

Don’t get me wrong, the iPad Pro and its smaller siblings are fantastic for consuming content. That has always been one of the biggest strengths of the iPad in general, but when it comes to producing content the iPad really only works well for folks in certain niches.

And the iPad Pro itself hasn’t changed that enough for me, but someday a new version of iOS combined with the iPad Pro’s hardware just might. Until then, I’ll stick with my trusty Mac and OS X.

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