iView: Is the iPad Pro the Right Laptop for Retirees?

I was one of few voices in the 1990s writing columns urging manufacturers to create a super-sized handheld. So, naturally I bought an iPad as soon as Apple introduced it in 2010 and have owned one ever since. Then in fall of 2022, my old laptop died. I wondered, should I stick with Windows, make the switch to a MacBook, or go for a budget-friendly Chromebook?

Retired in theory, I assessed my needs. I don't travel as much as before but continue to teach, coach, write, and consult. Ten years back, I tried using an iPad as my laptop. The experiment failed because I missed having a mouse, larger screen, no multitasking, and desktop software.

With better iPads and lighter usage, maybe it was time to try again. I already had a 9.7-inch 2020 iPad Pro with Smart Folio Keyboard for email, internet access, and entertainment, but the screen seemed too small for laptop-like usage.

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I normally buy the latest and greatest, but for my needs, the 2021 iPad Pro would serve me just as well as the newer ones. I used to buy cellular versions of the iPad but found it to be not worth the expense. Connecting to Wi-Fi or my iPhone's personal hotspot in a pinch works just fine. To get the most of your iPad, just like I have, be sure to sign up for our free Tip of the Day newsletter.

I saved hundreds of dollars by shopping eBay for the not-quite-current iPad and a like-new Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil. If I needed a laptop today, I'd happily use the same setup and save more. I prefer the iPad to a Windows laptop because of the easy-to-use iPhone-like interface, long battery life, specialized apps, detachable Magic Keyboard, and true portability for occasional sojourns.

I'm quite satisfied with built-in iPad apps including Mail, Photos, Notes, Contacts, Calender, Camera, and Timer. Microsoft 365 (aka Office) and Google Docs take care of word processing and spreadsheet needs. I use Scrivener for a book I'm writing, web-based Maestro Conference and Zoom for classes I teach, and HT Recorder to record sessions for coaching clients. I can even phone with FaceTime, WhatsApp Web, or Messenger. I also use various streaming services, GoodReader, Microsoft Todo, YouTube, Evernote, an assortment of games, and more.

The Apple Magic Keyboard, with its full keyboard, trackpad, and magnetic connection, gives the iPad a laptop feel. I like the Magic Keyboard appearance, quality, protection of the iPad, and easy-to-use typeable keyboard.

As a PC user, I get confused by Apple keyboard's Ctrl, Option, and Command keys. I don't like that the keyboard weighs more than the iPad and that it costs as much as a Chromebook. The Apple Smart Folio Keyboard I use for my 9.7-inch iPad could work, but the Magic Keyboard gives me a full-screen angle range and has a better aesthetic. I use the iPad touchscreen more than I use the Magic Keyboard trackpad.

I don't use the iPad multitasking features much, even though they are more intuitive than before. I never use my Apple Pencil.

I haven't missed my laptop yet! That said, don't be surprised if I write about my experience with the new iPad Pro and keyboard in some future column.

Illustration by Mikaila Maidment, mikailamaidment.com

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Author Details

Hal Goldstein's picture

Author Details

Hal Goldstein

Hal Goldstein is Founder & Columnist at iPhone Life. In 1985, armed with the first HP LaserJet, the original HP Laptop, and his enthusiasm for mobile computing, Hal began a publishing company, Thaddeus Computing. Through the years, the company supported users of HP palmtops, Microsoft Pocket PCs, early smartphones, and the iPhone—Hal is now an avid iPhone and iPad user. Author of the book Meditating Entrepreneurs, he teaches classes and coaches individuals in the Release Technique.  Hal lives in Fairfield, Iowa, with his wife, Lynda. You can contact Hal at Hal @iPhoneLife.com.