What it is: The iPad Pro is the latest version of the iPad with an optional keyboard while the MacBook is the smallest and lightest laptop Macintosh available.
Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been using both an iPad Pro (the larger 12.9-inch screen) and a MacBook (12-inch screen). Initially, I thought I’d use the MacBook more for typing and the iPad Pro more for casual use. Yet Apple’s optional iPad Pro keyboard is remarkably friendly to touch typing. On the other hand, the MacBook keyboard feels much flatter and harder to use for touch typing. As a result, I tend to do more typing on the iPad Pro than the MacBook.
While I thought I would carry the iPad Pro around more often, I find myself using the MacBook far more often on the go. While both devices can do browsing and word processing, the main appeal of the MacBook is simply the ability to run certain games designed for OS X (and not iOS), Xcode for writing programs in Swift, Apple’s official programming language, and iBooks Author, which is Apple’s free program for creating interactive ebooks known as iBooks.
The iPad Pro and MacBook are nearly the same size and weight, but the differences really boil down to software. Which programs do you need most often on the road? That alone will determine which device you need regardless of technical specifications.
If you need standard office software (word processor, spreadsheet, presentation program), you can get that on either device by using the free iWork office suite (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote) or the subscription based Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint). Creating more sophisticated documents is far easier on the MacBook than the iPad Pro, but for light editing and casual viewing, the iPad Pro works just fine. Given a choice though, the MacBook is better suited for document creation if your documents are fairly complex.
So what I thought would be an easy case to use the iPad Pro all the time turned out to be completely wrong. I actually use the MacBook far more often with the iPad Pro as my secondary device. Both devices have roughly the same battery life and cost about the same, so the differences really boils down to what you need.
Do you need programs that only run on OS X? Than you should choose a MacBook. Do you use a device for more casual work that won’t involve creating and editing complicated documents? Then an iPad Pro will likely be a better choice for you.
First decide what software you need and that alone will determine the device you need. If you buy the wrong device, it simply won’t work for you in the same way that a chainsaw won’t work for you when you need a screwdriver instead. The problem isn’t the item but the purpose you need, so don’t buy the wrong device.
Former Microsoft Windows President Steven Sinofsky (the guy responsible for the horrid user interface of Windows 8) even uses an iPad Pro that he says has basically replaced his need for a traditional laptop. To read more about his experiences with an iPad Pro, click here.