From 512 Pixels:

In my head, I know that the 14-inch MacBook Pro is the right notebook for me and the work that I do when away from my desk….

There’s something about the design of this machine [the Air] that I can’t escape. The footprint is pretty similar between the two notebooks, but in my backpack, there’s a huge difference. Don’t get me wrong: I am thrilled that the MacBook Pro has beefed up to be a better computer, but I’m drawn to the clean, simple look of the Air. I know the Pro is a better match for my workflows, but the Air can do everything I need — if just a little bit slower. And I don’t care about that speed difference any time I pick up the Air to take it with me. Something about it just clicks with me in a way I didn’t anticipate.

The 10.5" iPad Pro was released in 2017. I bought one refurbished a year later and I badly wanted to discover within it a capable laptop replacement. The iPad was light and fun without a case, it felt durable enough to bounce around inside a backpack or bag, battery life was excellent, and it offered the option of adding a Bluetooth keyboard that could turn it into a powerhouse. The iPad was a “naked robotic core” which could be connected to different external peripherals to meet your current needs. I outfitted mine with a Brydge keyboard (this one) and went about finding replacement apps for all my normal desktop use cases.

Could I administer a Wordpress site? Yes! And there were times the Wordpress native iOS app outperformed the native web UI. Could I install a new Wordpress site on a remote server? With enough patience, also yes! Terminal apps on iOS reached their pinnacle with Secure Shellfish, which I still use all the time to do some light admin work on my Linux box and Raspberry Pi machines.

A major advantage to using an iPad as a laptop was the ability to use native apps to accomplish functions that, on a laptop, would require a web browser. The native Wordpress app improved the experience, versus the web-based editor. The M1 MacBook Air changed a lot of that because it allowed iOS apps to run natively on a laptop.

So which is better?

I never did learn to love the iPad as a laptop replacement. I’m typing this post on an M1 MacBook Pro. However, as Hackett mentions in his review of the M2 MacBook Air, there is still a tension in my heart around what the best computing device is. The old familiarity and comfort of a laptop with a command line? The thinness and lightness of a MacBook Air over a Pro, and the possibility of an even thinner and lighter solution with a case-less iPad?

The one thing which is for certain is that we are awash in a sea of choices. And that is better than having only one choice.