APPLE HAS an eye firmly on the business market with its newly announced iPad Pro, a honking great 12.9in slate with stylus and keyboard accessories suspiciously similar to those of the Microsoft Surface Pro series.
This is very much a device that Apple wants you to carry into the office instead of a laptop, but how well does it compare against one of the US firm's own? To find out, we've compared the iPad Pro's key specs against the 11in MacBook Air.
iPad Pro: 12.9in 2732x2048 264ppi
MacBook Air: 11.6in 1366x768 135ppi
The iPad Pro picks up an early lead, beating the MacBook Air on size and pixel density. 135ppi is passable for web browsing and document editing, but the iPad Pro is easily better for making films and photos look suitably sharp.
Design and dimensions
iPad Pro: 306x221x6.9mm, 713g
MacBook Air: 300x192x17mm, 1.08kg
The downside of the iPad Pro's gargantuan display is its increased size; it's taller and deeper than the MacBook Air, although it more than makes up for it in slimness and weight. As one might expect from a tablet, even a 12.9in one, it's less than half as thick as the MacBook Air and weighs nearly 400g less.
It's difficult to make this particular laptop seem chunky, but that's exactly what the iPad Pro has done. However, that comes at the cost of connectivity. The MacBook Air has the benefit of two USB 3.0 ports and a Thunderbolt 2 port, whereas the iPad Pro makes do with a single Lightning connector.
iPad Pro: A9X
MacBook Air: 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5
The 64-bit A9X processor in the iPad Air is a brand new design, so we don't know exactly how well it performs. Apple said that it runs 1.8 times faster than its predecessor, the iPad Air 2's A8X, and that was certainly no slouch.
Speaking of the A8X, we know that was a tri-core 1.5GHz chip. If the A9X is notably quicker, as Apple promises, the iPad Pro should have a very good chance of outperforming the 1.6GHz dual-core i5 in the MacBook Air.
iPad Pro: iOS 9
MacBook Air: OS X Yosemite
The iPad Pro will be loaded with the new iOS 9, which introduces several security, performance and power efficiency improvements. Other interesting additions include handwriting support for the Notes app, a battery-saving Low Power mode and a multitasking view that places two apps on screen at once.
Naturally, the MacBook Air runs the latest OS X version, Yosemite, and will be upgradable to OS X El Capitan when it rolls out on 30 September.
iOS 9 sounds like a fine mobile OS, but we're more inclined towards the versatility of OS X for an everyday device. Apps run in windows rather than at full-screen, making them even easier to multitask with than iOS 9's split-screen view. What's more, these apps will be part of a much greater range, from AAA games to the full-fat versions of work software like Microsoft Office.
iPad Pro: 8MP rear-facing, 1.2MP front-facing
MacBook Air: 720p FaceTime
The iPad Pro's 8MP iSight camera is the best individual snapper in this comparison, a victory marred only slightly by the fact that taking photos with a vast two-handed tablet looks and feels utterly ridiculous.
The front-facing cameras on both devices are equally underwhelming - decent enough for the odd Skype call, but not for serious recording - so we'll move on.
iPad Pro: 32GB, 128GB
MacBook Air: 128GB, 256GB
None of these are spectacularly spacious options, although the MacBook Air's relatively generous 256GB drive earns it the win. And it's worth remembering that this can be expanded via USB too.
With the iPad Pro, 32GB is forgivably small by tablet standards, although anyone who follows Apple's wishes and makes it their main work computer will find it getting full fast.
iPad Pro: Up to nine hours (WiFi+LTE), up to 10 hours (WiFi only)
MacBook Air: Up to nine hours
The WiFi-only iPad Pro is the most enduring model here. Apple said that it can survive up to 10 hours of web browsing on a single charge, compared with nine hours for the MacBook Air and the WiFi+LTE iPad Pro variant.
To be fair, all of these are strong showings, and the tablet and laptop are both capable of lasting through a full work day or a reasonably long flight.
With a higher-res screen and more portable proportions, the iPad Pro does have a certain sleek appeal which the older MacBook Air doesn't quite share.
That said, it falls short as an outright laptop replacement. There's little reason to use something with a mobile OS as your main work machine, and we doubt that many will prefer the feel of the flat ‘Magic Keyboard' cover over the MacBook Air's actual keys. µ