An iPad as a computer is an idea that’s been tossed around for almost 10 years now, ever since the first iPad was launched in 2010. For the longest time, it was seen as a “content consumption” device, the “third screen” as Steve Jobs called it. The iPad Pro in 2015 helped change perceptions to a great degree, but the new iPad (2019) is a very different proposition.
It is still easily the best tablet on the market, considering how badly Android and Windows fared on that front. The 2018 iPad added Apple Pencil support adding a lot of versatility to the tablet, and the latest ones bring in a slightly larger display as well as support for Apple’s Smart Keyboard Cover, which was earlier limited to the iPad Pro and the latest iPad Air.
At Rs 29,900, the starting price of the new iPad is also right in the range for what most people would pay for their first notebook (from most leading brands at least). For about that price, you would get a notebook running an Intel Core i3 or Gold processor, most likley without a touchscreen, from the likes of Lenovo or HP.
You can get a 128 GB Wi-Fi only variant of the new iPad for Rs 37,900, and if you want a Wi-Fi and 4G variant, you will have to shell out Rs 40,900 for the 32 GB variant and Rs 48,900 for the 128 GB variant. The real model of interest, however, is the base variant — 32 GB, Wi-Fi which starts at Rs 29,900.
Some might say that the Apple Pencil at Rs 7,500 and the smart keyboard cover from Apple at Rs 13,500 would increase the price significantly, but the fact is that these are not the only stylus and keyboard options available for the iPad - you can easily get options at much lower prices (starting at around Rs 2,000-2,500 apiece).
The top tablet
The iPad remains unmatched as a tablet. It’s using the A10 Fusion processor which was used nearly three years ago in the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, but Apple has managed to eke out great performance from this chip, as applications open up quickly and run snappily. You’ll only see the odd pause when you are doing something heavy duty, like editing videos, or playing a game like Call of Duty — which you should expect even from a laptop at around the same price point.
Streaming, social networks, gaming, browsing the Internet and sending emails are completely smooth and flawless, and the 10.2-inch display looks great. It’s bright in most conditions except direct sunlight, and the dual speaker setup is loud enough to use.
It’s also got a responsive fingerprint scanner, although it lacks face unlock. But the biggest selling point of the iPad as a tablet is the battery, which can see you through nearly ten hours on a charge, with excellent standby time.
Also a good notebook
At the same time, the iPad is also a good option as a notebook replacement, thanks to Apple’s move to develop iPad OS. It still looks and feels like iOS (as seen on the iPhone) for the most part, but there are just enough tweaks and changes here that make it a much more versatile device than it used to be.
Multi-tasking is now much easier (you can even view files on the same application next to each other), you can connect USB drives to the device (you would need an adaptor supporting the lighting port), and thanks to the Files application, you can now save files in specific folders on your device and transfer and rename them. In short, you can now do most of the things that you can on a notebook on your iPad.
The absence of ports in the device means you will have to keep carrying an adaptor along with you, but given how light the device is, that is not too much of an inconvenience. And although Apple’s official accessories are expensive, a Bluetooth keyboard like the Logitech 380 can turn the tablet into a productivity device quite easily — especially since Apple’s office suite (Pages, Numbers, and Spotlight) are all preloaded — or you can download MS Office if you have a subscription.
Some tasks like editing images and videos are actually easier on a tablet than a notebook—touching a display to fine tune an effect is easier than trying to do the same on a touchpad or while using a mouse. A big headache had always been the fact that there was no file structure and that one could not attach USB devices (other than basic memory cards) to the iPad. That has been taken care of by iPad OS.
No longer the “third screen”?
Given its price tag and general ease of use, the new iPad is a candidate for being many consumers’ first notebook. No, it is not perfect — its lack of multiple USB ports will irritate those who like to plug thumb drives into their computers or attach them to other devices like printers and projectors. But on the flip side, it does come with generally smooth operation (much better than what you would get on most notebooks of the same price), better multi-tasking than before, lots of apps, very good battery life, Apple’s famous rock-solid security and a form factor that is super portable.
Pair it with an inexpensive Bluetooth keyboard, and you’re at par with any notebook, while also getting a terrific tablet for times when you just want to relax and watch a movie. Steve Jobs might have frowned at the notion in 2010, but in 2019, I think the iPad has moved from being a third screen to being a second one.