It's Official: Apple Just Killed the Laptop

Do you really need a laptop anymore?

That’s a good question to ask, because the answer depends greatly on how you use it on a daily basis. For me, the new Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch released this month is a no-brainer as a laptop replacement. It’s so powerful that I haven’t noticed any slowdowns in all of my apps, even the processor-intensive ones like Skype and Texture (a magazine reader).

That last point is incredibly important. When you think of “going mobile” these days, it usually means taking notes at a meeting, staying in contact with people, researching things on the fly, and talking to a bot like Siri to ask about directions…to your next meeting.

More and more, I’ve been using the Apple Pencil to jot down notes and sketch out ideas on an iPad. I’ve explained many times how bots have taken over my working life. I use Siri in the car, Alexa at home, and the Google Assistant everywhere in between (usually on an iPhone–yes, I know that is sacrilegious). I’m even more of an iPad user than before.

I feel the future is already being built for us, one device at a time. Bots and tablets are the answer. A laptop is almost quaint. A big screen fused onto a keyboard, usually powered by Windows. The question is why do we still use them. If you can run Photoshop and every other app you use on a normal day but also benefit from the portability and power of the iPad Pro, why keep using a laptop? I don’t drag a laptop around anymore unless I know I’m going to do some video editing or longer-than-usual typing sessions (say, a book).

As far as typing, the iPad Pro works symbiotically with the Smart Keyboard Folio, and I’ve been finding that I can actually type faster during normal writing sessions at Starbucks.

I like how the keys feel, because they don’t have the excessive springiness of a Google Pixelbook or even the Apple MacBook. I’m typing right now with fingers flying faster than ever. Now, I do prefer Microsoft Word on a desktop or laptop connected to a massive display in my office. I’m not sure when that will change, because I doubt I’ll ever haul around a 32-inch display.

More and more, the iPad Pro 9.7-inch (and now the new iPad Pro) is what goes into my backpack. I know I can type, I know I can benefit from all of the apps. It’s just faster. It’s instant-on access to Chrome for doing research on the 12.9-inch display.

The new model sports the Apple A12X Bionic chip, which runs faster than any previous tablet I’ve tested. I tested Netflix, Skype, the Chrome browser–all faster. I know some readers have told me they could never use an iPad because they do web programming, video editing, or play high-end computer games, and I understand those reservations.

I believe mobile is changing, though. When I see people using the Microsoft Surface tablet in meetings, they are usually taking notes. As far as younger workers, they tend to use their phones, even for typing up docs. Laptops were once a primary productivity machine, but with bots and apps we’ve moved away from that mentality. We don’t need to use a laptop to organize a schedule, or set up reminders, or hold a Skype session. With each passing year a tablet becomes more like a laptop anyway, especially in terms of raw processing power.

Still not convinced? I understand. It took me about three years of using an iPad during meetings to realize it makes me more productive. I also never use a laptop at home anymore. If I’m sitting in the living room by the fire, it’s with a book or an iPad these days.

The only slight ding to mention about the iPad Pro 12.9-inch is that it’s quite spendy. The base model costs $999, which is a much higher price tag than many Windows laptops. If you pick the version with 1TB of storage and cellular service, it’s a jaw-dropping $1,899.

I’m not seeing any other downsides, especially once Photoshop debuts next year. It’s maybe a bit bulky at 1.39 pounds, and I could see the tablet slipping out of my hands–it feels a bit slippery. I’m still adjusting to the lack of a Home button a little (you swipe up to unlock like you do on an iPhone X). Those are minor factors. I like how the Pencil attaches to the side of the tablet. The Smart Keyboard Folio is pure genius for typists like myself (it costs an extra $199). And make sure you try out a magazine on the 12.9-inch display. Wow.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about why you still use a laptop and compare notes. I know there are use cases where the iPad doesn’t work. For me, it’s killed the laptop.

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