Tim Bajarin: Rethinking the value of Apple’s iPad Pro and Microsoft’s Surface Pro

“Over the last two years, the technology to deliver a more robust 2-in-1 experience has gotten much better. There are two products on the market I think might be pointing us to the next major shift in portable computing,” Tim Bajarin writes for Tech.pinions. “Microsoft’s Surface Pro and Apple’s new iPad Pro are, at the moment, the best of breed 2-in-1s. I will probably be dragged, kicking and screaming, toward these new designs. But after using both for some time now, I am starting to warm up to them.”

“Call me old school when it comes to the Windows platform but traditional laptops still seem a better fit for my needs,” Bajarin writes. “As for the iPad Pro… to be honest, I was not a big fan of Apple’s keyboard case and could never become comfortable using its keyboard… 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,” Bajarin writes. “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.

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Using a bluetooth keyboard like a Logitech Create or a ZAGG Slim Book, makes all the difference vs. Apple’s not-so-Smart Keyboard when it comes to using a physical keyboard with iPad Pro.

Apple’s iPad Pro handily outsells Microsoft’s Surface in launch quarter – February 1, 2016
AnandTech reviews Apple’s iPad Pro: ‘Size is something that feels like it should have been done from the start’ – January 22, 2016
ZDNet reviews Apple’s iPad Pro: A genuine alternative to a laptop for business users – November 20, 2015
Apple’s super-sized ‘iPad Pro’ shines for work, play and creativity – November 19, 2015
TIME Magazine reviews iPad Pro: ‘The best computer Apple has ever made’ – November 16, 2015
iPad Pro: Day 2 and already making my work better, easier, and faster – November 13, 2015
Why Apple’s new iPad Pro makes Mac users feel weird – November 12, 2015
Apple’s new iPad Pro is faster and more affordable than beleaguered Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 – November 12, 2015
Analyst: Apple’s iPad Pro and its powerful A9X CPU pose threat to Intel – November 12, 2015
Apple’s A9X-powered iPad Pro offers Mac-like speed – November 11, 2015
Wired reviews Apple’s iPad Pro: ‘The best tablet, and the best case for tablets, anyone’s ever made’ – November 11, 2015
Horace Dediu reviews Apple’s iPad Pro: Unlike anything we’ve ever seen before – November 11, 2015
Ben Bajarin reviews Apple’s iPad Pro: ‘The start of something new’ – November 11, 2015
Gruber reviews Apple’s iPad Pro: A MacBook replacement for many – November 11, 2015


  1. “The 13″ screen is equal to the ones on my Dell and Lenovo laptops”
    No, is not, the iPad Pro has almost twice the pixel resolution and density and it is more power efficient.
    Does anyone remember that microsoft campaign against apple when they promoted bigger screens in laptops than those on the apple’s laptops?
    Well, as it turns out, a friend brought an HP with 17 inches screen.. but it had like 800 x600 resolution or something like that. Bigger is not always better. And even in same sizes devices, there can be a lot of differences.

    1. The iPad Pro typifies the Tim Cook era of product releases: expensive, pointless, lacking key features, and resoundlingly disappointing!

      This product fails on so many levels that it’s downright reprehensible:

      * Paltry, chickensh*t storage options
      * Zero ports
      * Virtually no apps
      * Unweildy to hold upright
      * Prohibitively expensive
      * Pricey yet poorly made accesories
      * Accessories unavailable at launch
      * Buggy, crashprone OS

      Anyone who bought the iPad Pro, an Apple Watch, or the new Macbook will buy anything with an Apple logo on it!

    2. troy, have you compared the specs?

      Apple iPad Pro: 12.9″ diagonal, 2732×2048 resolution at 264 ppi
      MS Surface Pro 4: 12.3″ diagonal, 2736×1824 resolution at 267 ppi

      I leave it to you to decide which you like better, but Apple isn’t the clear leader in pixel density these days.

      Dare I mention the tech specs of Apple’s Thunderbolt Display compared to the competition?

  2. In order to be a “PRO” in the iPad Pro. We need to be able to open 2 or more documents in the “SAME” app. Pages and Number only let you open one document at a time. Not very productive.

    1. The Global satellite Phone pro is a real Proffessional phone, and can’t open even one word or office document much les open 2.
      The Nikon D4 unibody camera is a real professional camera an can not open a pages or word document.
      In order to be “Pro” you don’t need to be able to open more than one document at the same time.
      The iPad pro is a “Pro” because it is the best tablet out there.
      Open more than one document at the same time is a very welcome feature, but is not the definition of “Pro”.

      1. McLarry, let’s not get too carried away with the label game.

        A satellite phone is a phone, period. I don’t see them advertised as laptop replacements or even smartphone replacements.

        Apple on the other hand advertises the iPad Pro as if it was a laptop replacement, with keyboard prominently shown in all ads, in direct competition to the Surface. But since iOS is and never will be a professional OS intended for productive creative multitasking work, it does confuse the label “Pro”.

        Apple could have eliminated this whole branding mess by simply calling the large iPad the “iPad Plus”. No iOS device should ever be referred to as a professional model, even if many professionals can use them for some or all of their work.

  3. I’ve got a house full of Apple gear and enjoy iPads for casual stuff–looking up stat while watching a game, heading to IMDB for a director’s resume, etc.

    But I honestly don’t understand why you wouldn’t use a MacBook Pro if you need to do more in-depth work. My 15″ is light, compact, powerful with great battery life. Why carry around an iPad and a keyboard when you’ve already got it in a simple package?

  4. Apple’s iPad Pro is only a promise until it gets more apps that take advantage of its capabilities. That includes Apple. Plus, it wastes screen space like no device I’ve seen.

    Surface Pro has underperformed even Microsoft’s expectations. While their Surface Book has done ok, the Surface languishes. And that’s after a multi-million dollar ad campaign.

    Laptops get smaller and lighter and converge at the place where tablets were supposed to go. I’ll take a laptop every time.

    BTW- I find scrolling a laptop screen like windows to be very intuitive and not like the horrible experience Apple tells me I’ll have. Touch for menus etc., not so much.

  5. I think the value in both of these devices lie serving two separate yet important markets. They both have a place. I think this article by Ben Bajarin does a better job of explaining it:


    “The Surface brings all the things a hard-core, technologically literate PC user needs in an ultraportable form factor. The Surface is a PC and exists as a form factor option for those who know how to use and drive a PC like a pro.That PC user, who can drive a PC like a pro, is not the mass market.”

    “The promise of something like the iPad and the iPad Pro, …, is to empower the masses to do MORE than they can on their smartphones with a computing paradigm that focuses on simplicity but still yields sophisticated results.”

    1. Microsoft thinks that one OS is the future, so at least in large screen products, it appears that the devices have the overhead of supporting both precise desktop inputs as well as touchscreen stuff. Everyone on these forums agrees that this is shit, and most current MS users agree as well. MS backpedaled against the Win8 backlash by now in Win10 allowing desktop users to mostly disable the touchscreen crap and at least make the interface look like Windows 7, the last good version of Windows for dedicated desktop users.

      Apple, as we all know, thinks that each class of device deserves its own ported OS. Each has its own limitations. OS X back in 10.6 used to be optimized for the desktop, and with emulation, it could run absolutely every software known to man, but since OS X 10.7 has been made actually less capable (no Rosetta, crappy Server) and less efficient by piling on fluff iOS (iCloud, Handoff, etc) overhead and a dumbed-down GUI, as well as neutering formerly powerful built-in apps like Disk Utility. Bad moves all around.

      iOS was conceived to be optimized for small touchscreen devices and media consumption only. But with the rise of the MS Surface, Apple pivoted. Now Apple is confusing people by releasing a Microsoft Surface-like device, naming it a “Pro”, and telling everyone that the consumer-grade iOS will be all they ever need.

      Apple then in the last couple years farted out WatchOS and TVOS. While it would be nice if the quality was there out of the gate, both have met with lack of consumer enthusiasm to say the least. Talk to the platform-agnostic tech whizes out there and they pan the inefficient interfaces, clunky remotes and menus, limited multitasking, slow response time, poor account management, an so on. The real world feedback is much different than the MDN echo chamber with the apologists who make personal attacks on everyone who brings up a criticism of Apple.

      Why hasn’t MDN called out Apple more precisely on the obvious loss of focus and the increased fragmentation? That kind of stuff has killed Apple’s growth.

      I would like to see Apple improve OS X and make all the iCloud crap optional. Until it does this, then everyone will assume that iOS and its offspring are as good as Apple can do.

  6. With the Logi Create and the iPad Pro I have been successful replacing my Mac and PC in day to day work. The added benefit of T-Mobile unlimited data globally is also a real value. I use the full MS Office Apps and RDC on a daily basis. To make the functionality complete with out servers I use Drop Box to move files around. Great technology for a startup. http://www.LidPhones.com

  7. “Using a bluetooth keyboard like a Logitech Create or a ZAGG Slim Book, makes all the difference vs. Apple’s not-so-Smart Keyboard…”

    Totally disagree! I’ve been using the Apple Smart Keyboard for weeks now and it is terrific. The problem with MDN is they haven’t taken the time to learn to use it. It does have a different feel, but one can learn to type very well with it. Besides, it is far more streamlined and integrated than the alternatives, it’s barely larger than the standard Smart Cover. I wish people would stop dissing the Smart Keyboard when they haven’t even used it.

  8. The iPad Pro can easily take on professional tasks in a variety of work situations, I pretty much use it interchangeably with my MacBook Pro these days, and even find it better for some things.

    The real weakness of an iPad Pro–and where the Surface is much better–is the lack of flexible file management with iOS. The ridiculously silly workarounds to use an iPad for serious file management is an embarrassment for Apple, it’s one of those glaring software problems (like iTunes and media management in general) that has one wonder who’s running the show at Apple, it really takes on a Sarah Palin-like quality at times.

  9. Now more than ever Apple should release the MacPad Double screen.
    The top part works as usual, but the BOTTOM screen “could be a keyboard”, or it could be an audio studio equalizer/control panel,, an editing control panel, a palate for mixing colors, or it could be a whole bunch of things that developers could think of.
    And it should run Windows. After all this time the PC has about 90% share vs 10% for Mac. And the iPad is going nowhere fast.
    Apple has developed a chip that could run TWICE as fast as an Intel…… But so what? The reality is the iPad uses a DIFFERENT chip, and if it can’t run Windows, it will KEEP LOSING SHARE.

  10. MDN, your take makes a major mybistake in calling the Logitech Create and ZAGG Slim Book keyboards Bluetooth keyboards. Neither one connects via Bluetooth technology. They both use the special connection Apple has provided on the edge of the iPad Pro to supply power to the keyboard and data to the iPad from the keyboard. They will not work with any other iPad or Bluetooth device.

    I have not tried my iPad Pro with a Bluetooth keyboard, so I cannot address how it would work with one. However it works great with the Logitech Create, but that keyboard adds a lot of thickness and weight.

  11. 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

    NO, not ‘anyone’. He’s entirely correct for many users who don’t work professionally with their devices. But for me, I have to laugh at Mr. Cook’s claim. It’s one of the few outright wrong statements he’s made and it is indeed very misleading. I love iOS devices, but they are nowhere near as functional as Macs. I doubt that’s going to change as, from what I can tell, the functionality hobbling of iOS devices is entirely deliberate because the customer niche is quite different. It’s as if Mr. Cook lost track of the manifesto of iOS devices.

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