Let's murder a metaphor.

In June of 2010, two months after Apple had shipped the first iPad, Steve Jobs sat on stage with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher at the D8 conference and compared tablets and PCs to cars and trucks.

“PCs are going to be like trucks,” said Jobs. "They’re still going to be around. They’re still going to have a lot of value. But they’re going to be used by like one out of x people.” Jobs predicted that the vast majority of people will eventually use tablets as a primary computing device, just like the vast majority of people drive cars. “We like to talk about the post-PC era, but when it really starts to happen I think it will be uncomfortable for a lot of people,” he said. “I think we’re embarked on that.”

Three and a half years later, the exploding tablet market has redefined the industry, but iPad sales have leveled off. Cheaper, smaller tablets from Google, Samsung, and Amazon are just as good at watching Netflix, reading books, and casually browsing the web as Apple’s slates, and the idea of a tablet as a laptop replacement seems to have faded even as PC sales have slowed. It’s as though people are holding off on replacing their aging workhorse trucks but eager to pick up a zippy little motorcycle for some cheap thrills on nights and weekends. Meanwhile, Microsoft and traditional PC manufacturers are busy trying to squeeze Windows into an ever-increasing variety of mobile form factors, much like the first SUVs were little more than reworked pickups.

And then there’s the new iPad Air. Starting at $499 and climbing to an incredible $929 for a fully loaded model with mobile broadband and 128GB of storage, the Air is a complete redesign of the familiar 9.7-inch iPad into a package that’s smaller, thinner, and lighter than ever before, with far more powerful internals and the same industry-leading 10-hour battery life. It’s also Apple’s first tablet to be released with iOS 7, the company’s complete rethinking of its mobile operating system. In a world still run by trucks, the iPad Air is the most advanced car ever built.

But is that enough to start swinging the balance in a more serious way? Are we any closer to the day when the iPad can actually replace a laptop? To commit the final crime against analogy, is this thing a bestselling family Accord or just an accessible midlife crisis Miata?