When I got my first computer in 2002, the word ‘computer’ meant something else. You had to buy a separate table with various drawers to accommodate the off white behemoth with a CRT monitor, a big-ass cabinet to hold the CPU, a keyboard bulkier than the ultraportable laptops we own today and a lot of wires, everywhere. Today, a computer is anything that takes care of your ‘computing’ needs. It may be a 5-inch smartphone or something that resembles the computer I mentioned above (in size only; in terms of looks and power, no computer on the planet today comes even close to the ugliness of the systems we had then). My computer journey started with that off-white behemoth and from there I owned an HP Pavilion dv5 laptop, a Dell Vostro, a Chromebook (the second-best computer I owned) and since July last year, a 13-inch MacBook Air. I own an iPhone 6s Plus and an iPad Mini 2 too which take care of a lot of my computing needs these days. Owning a MacBook Air was the epitome of computing from me since I got to know about it in 2010 and I have enjoyed every moment of using it over the last 1.5 years. When Apple announced their newest MacBook Pros a couple of weeks back, I started thinking about my computing needs, how the mobile operating systems of today have changed how I work and what device would work best for me when I eventually decide to replace my MacBook Air. I think it is safe to say that this MacBook Air is going to be my last ‘traditional computer’.
What will I replace it with? I’m sure you guessed it. An iPad Pro. I guess I have known this from the day Apple introduced the 9.7-inch version for the pro iPad. And it’s not just because it is a cool thing to do. My workflow involves a lot of reading and writing and at other times, I use my computer to read books, watch stuff on it and play a bit. With all this in mind, I have been able to ascertain three reasons because of which, at least for me, in the future, using an iPad Pro as my primary computer makes sense.
iPad Pros, packing A9X chips inside, are seriously powerful. In fact, both iPad Pros provide performance which is on par with (if not better) than MacBooks. Even though I’m not a power-user in any sense of the word, I still encounter performance bottlenecks regularly on my MacBook Air. The spinning rainbow wheel is a friend I wouldn’t mind seeing less of. The 4GB RAM in my MacBook Air falters when I have 10+ videos open or have 15+ articles ready to be read. Add the background processes that other apps/software keep running to that and the performance of my MacBook Air falters. This becomes a bit irritating when I have multiple tabs open in Safari and am trying to edit multiple posts for Life In Technocolor in WordPress. That’s because traditional desktop operating systems were built for multitasking power over performance efficiency. A mobile operating system like iOS was built with performance efficiency at its core. So, however many apps I have open on an iPad Pro, the system never comes to a standstill because if the system runs out of RAM, it just pushes the processes/apps that I haven’t used for a while out of memory and when I open them next, reloads them into memory. macOS doesn’t do that. Safari doesn’t suspend tabs on macOS if I open more of them than it can handle while it does that on iOS (Chrome has The Great Suspender, an extension that does as its name suggests. But then, Chrome sucks battery life like a starving vampire). And while subjected to load, the battery life on a traditional computer takes a big hit. On the other hand, however many apps I have open on an iPad, battery life never takes a hit. Add to that the focus that the workflow on an iPad provides (one app at a time with a lot fewer multitasking options available) which is a boon for someone like me who gets overwhelmed when there are too many things in front of my eyes. So, ya, reliability of performance and battery life and the focus that a workflow provides on a non-traditional computer like an iPad Pro, makes it a good candidate for my reading, writing, watching and playing workflow. Hey, and the portability that an iPad provides is unrivalled by even MacBooks. Also, the SIM card support ensures so that I have access to a 4G connection without depending on personal hotspots when I’m on the move.
Macs are costly. With the demise of the MacBook Air, the Mac that comes closest to satisfying my needs is the non-Touch Bar 13-inch MacBook Pro. And it costs $500 more than a WiFi + Cellular 9.7-inch iPad Pro with a Smart Keyboard thrown in. With a workflow that can be taken care of by an iPad Pro in as good a manner (if not better) as a Mac, the decision becomes a no-brainer on the price-point itself.
One device to rule them all
Right now, I write on my MacBook Air and watch videos and run Life In Technocolor from here, research for articles, read books, learn coding through Swift Playgrounds and play a bit on my iPad Mini 2 and do all of this on the go using my iPhone 6s Plus. This arrangement creates breaks and I don’t like it. My ideal computer is the perfect mix of power and portability to be able to accomplish all these tasks in one place. All this is a big ‘check’ on an iPad Pro. The retina display is gorgeous (though, I’d prefer a size in between 9.7 and 12 inches, the rumoured 10.9-inch iPad Pro, if released, sounds perfect), I can write using the Smart Keyboard (I can type at the same speed on any surface. The bottleneck isn’t the keyboard for me, it’s my brain.) and then, when done, can just take the iPad out of the case and use it as a tablet. Hey, and this also saves me money by not having to buy two different devices!
I understand that an iPad Pro will never replace a traditional computer for a lot of people for a lot of reasons but, for me, after having thought it through, it can. Even right now. And by the time I actually end up replacing my MacBook Air with one, iOS would’ve gotten even more powerful with, hopefully, a few more iPad-focussed features. Here’s to the future of computing (for me, at least)!
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