Maybe that’s a good place to start because we tend to think of computers as the desktop hogs with tower, keyboard, mouse, and display. An iMac fits. A Mac notebook, too, of course. But what about iPhone or iPad? Are those computers?
The technical answer is yes, they are computers; actually, very powerful and highly mobile computers. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs announced years ago that Apple Computer, Inc would be known as Apple Inc. because iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, et al, were not computers in the sense that a Mac is a computer. Fair enough, but an iPhone and an iPad are still computers.
The recent iPad Pro commercials are evangelizing the device as if it can be a replacement for a Windows PC notebook, which it can, of course, but a statement which totally requires a definition of how a traditional computer is used. By stretching the definition even a $199 Chromebook can replace a Mac.
So, yes, iPad Pro can replace a MacBook Air, but packaged with similar storage and keyboard it’s also priced close to the much more powerful and capable new MacBook, but that depends completely on what you do on each device, what your expectations are, and less about how much money you want to spend.
A MacBook can run OS X, Windows 10, various flavors of Linux and Unix, and all at the same time if necessary, so it’s a highly capable device in a thin and light package. Yet, an iPad Pro is as thin and light and easily edits 4k videos and has a wider array of applications made specifically for the device.
Whether an iPad Pro can replace whatever Mac you’re using for whatever you do depends upon whatever you do and whatever you expect to do. Apple’s iPad Pro commercial also asks, “What else can it do?” That’s a good question and one I’m sure more than a few Chromebook owners with buyer’s remorse asked themselves after using it awhile and then realizing the limitations.
iPad Pro, for all the graphics power, touch screen prowess, and library of applications– and yes, it’s a computer regardless of the definition geeks and neophytes may use– cannot do what a Mac Pro can do. iPad Pro cannot do all an iPhone can do (it’s still a phone), so it is safe to say our computers these days, and who among us has only one, have overlapping functionality, and that’s a good thing, especially within Apple’s ecosystem where files on one device can be synced up with files on another.
Steve Jobs once heralded the iPad as the beginning of the post-PC era, but “PC” was then defined as the traditional personal computer, whether desktop or notebook. Sorry, neither one is going away, so allow me to declare the end of the post-PC era. These devices– desktops, notebooks, smartphones, tablets, even smartwatches– are all computers, each with some degree of overlap, none of the absolute necessities of years gone by, but powerful, often mobile devices that work very well in specific functions.
Some of us may own and use all– iMac, MacBook, iPad, iPhone, Watch– and some may hold onto only one or two devices, but they’re all computers and they all have a different jobs to do. Can you replace a Mac with an iPad Pro? Sure. But do you want to?