The iPad 10.2-inch is pretty great sidekick device.

Paul Alvarez

MacBook Air with its sidekick the iPad 8.

I have gone back and forth in my attempt to use an iPad Pro as my main computer. With the Magic Keyboard’s introduction, my last effort in using an iPad Pro was much more pleasing and comfortable in replacing a laptop. But after a while, I started missing a Mac again and knew that though I love the iPad a lot, I prefer a Mac for most of the things I do on a computer.

Before I moved into my new house, I got rid of all my technology and wanted to rethink my computer setup. The tools you choose are essential in removing barriers just to get started.

For instance, having a stationary desktop or an iPad mini with a keyboard would be difficult for me to get motivated to work. For one, I like a computer that I can use anywhere, and two, the computer needs to have an (almost) full-size keyboard and a screen larger than 10-inches.

The iPad 10.2-inch (or iPad 8th Generation) is right at the cusp of these requirements. When pairing it with a Smart Keyboard and Magic Trackpad, it almost did everything I needed in my transition in getting a Mac but did not provide the type of writing or working environment that I prefer.

The iPad 8

The iPad 8 is the epitome of what people think when they hear the name iPad. It has the same design as the original iPad with a home button and slightly thicker bezels on the top and bottom of the device.

The Retina display, like most of Apple’s products, is gorgeous and vibrant. And unless you look for it, the fact that the screen is not laminated (meaning the glass is not fuzed together with the digitizer) you wouldn’t notice. Maybe if you used an Apple Pencil (1st Generation) a lot, you might see it more, but I can’t tell for everyday use.

In my opinion, the size is a little big for a reading device or holding for long periods. I liked Apple’s 9.7-inch sized iPads and wished they kept that same sized device but just squeezed in a bigger screen. Granted, the curved sides are very comfortable to hold; you can argue in some ways, it is more comfortable than the sharps edges of the iPad Pros, which makes the size a little more bearable.

It isn’t heavy, nor is it light. The weight distribution on this iPad is excellent, and overall, it is an excellent device for it being Apple’s cheapest and lowest-end iPad in their line up. Coming with only 32 GB is rough, though, and I had to go 128 to get the apps I needed on the device, but still, at $429 (and constantly on-sale for cheaper), this iPad is fantastic.

As a Sidekick and not the Main Hero

So what is the iPad best at? It is excellent at reading, browsing the web, playing games, watching videos, and some light admin tasks. When I sold all my equipment, the first thing I purchased was this iPad 8, and I attempted to use it as my main machine for a while.

It did provide the ability to get most things done, but it was not ideal. I could pay bills, check email, and write a few articles, but it was overall not that great of an experience. The reason was mostly due to the screen and keyboard size, but the ergonomics of the device are also not preferable. 8 in a Smart Keyboard with a Magic TrackPad 2.

For many, an iPad 8 with a Smart Keyboard (and Magic Trackpad) might be all one needs for a computer. My family pitched in on an iPad 7 for my Grandmother last Christmas, and she loves it. Using it for personal stuff and a large FaceTime device to see Grandchildren makes it invaluable to her.

After I bought a MacBook Air (first an Intel, and now an M1), the iPad became just a consumption device for me. I keep it sitting on the right side of my desk to stream videos or play music, and in the mornings, it is the device I use while drinking coffee to read articles.

This has not changed much and is still very much a consumption device for my wife and me when we are on the couch. It is funny how much I don’t use my iPhone much at home when the iPad is around. The larger screen provides a much more comfortable way of binging online media.

Over time, though, the iPad has become more of a sidekick to my MacBook Air. In the mornings, in-between coffee and news, I will update my personal and work tasks list, check emails, and other small tasks to get started for my workday.

It has become a tool to use with my MacBook Air instead of it just being a media device separate from the MacBook Air. I hardly use the keyboard and trackpad, mostly keeping them around only if I need them. But overall, it has been nice to have both devices handy for specific tasks.

I do mostly everything on my MacBook Air and feel this has always been my way of using my devices. I liked to use that device for everything and never thought about sharing tasks with another device with the iPad Pro. With the iPad 8, I can see more and more of my tasks being easier and more fun than doing them on a laptop.

So, the iPad as a sidekick for most power users, I think it is a must. You don’t need an iPad Pro or even an iPad mini to use an iPad as a secondary device. The cheapest model Apple sells, will do just fine. The next step is seeing where the iPad fits better than your other machine. Or if you want to continue using an iPad as a consumption-only device, it has, and will always be, great for that too.

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My passion is in technology. I write reviews about gadgets that interest me but also provide some kind of value in my toolset to achieve my goals. Most of my writing is surrounded by technology and how it plays a role as a tool, help with productivity, and also provide mindfulness for a more fulfilled life.

Turlock, CA

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