iPad Pro iPad Pro as a Companion to Mac Mini/iMac?

Discussion in 'iPad' started by Visionblue, Mar 7, 2019.

  1. Visionblue macrumors member

    Jun 16, 2013
    Hello All,

    If this is the wrong thread I apologize. I anticipate that I will begin taking IT/IST classes soon and I am currently enrolled in Treehouse's Web Design program online. My current set up is a sluggish 2013 MacBook Air (base model 11") that I use with an external display, and a 2017 iPad. I mostly use the iPad for media consumption for the time being and use the laptop for my courses, as well as light tasks including working with google sheets, pages, photo editing and browsing the web.

    I was considering replacing both with a recent model mbp, but was discouraged for two reasons. Firstly, the cost for a decently spec'd pro is prohibitive (15" with 16GB of ram and 256GB of storage would be my minimum, $2k+). Secondly, I've been turned off by all of the negative press the recent mbps have received.

    The combo of an iPad and a desktop mac is appealing to me for the sake of modularity and being able to upgrade/replace each individual device without scrapping the whole set up. Plus the apple pencil paired with an iPad sounds ideal for note taking as well as drawing and designing for recreation.

    I'm currently considering purchasing the 11" iPad Pro and mac mini. The combo of the base models undercut the MacBook pro by hundreds of dollars. It seems apple is very invested in the future of the iPad and though I realize it can't totally replace the mac os experience, I'm confident that its usability will only improve as time goes on. I'm wondering if others have experience with this combination and how it has worked out for them so far?
  2. TomOSeven macrumors 6502


    Jul 4, 2017
    Don't be, just factor in the time and effort of having the keyboard replaced once or thrice and consider that realistically, you'll be using the laptop for only two years.

    Meaning you're essentially renting a laptop for 100 pounds a month.

    Worth it? Nearly everyone would say no.
  3. Davefevs macrumors member


    Dec 14, 2015
    Bristol, UK
    Are you going to use the IPP as the monitor for your MB mini?
  4. danmart, Mar 8, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2019

    danmart macrumors 6502a


    Apr 24, 2015
    Lancs, UK
    I have a similar set up but using a docked 2015 MBP.

    I used to have three devices: iPad Pro, MBP and a fairly venerable Mac Mini. I found that I was hardly ever using the MBP, with 90% of my home computing done on the iPad Pro and the rest done on my Mini. The MBP never got any use.

    My plan was to sell the MBP and old Mini to buy a new one, but when I looked at the cost-of-change I decided to use the MBP permanently in clamshell mode, instead.

    It works great, and I’m confident iPad + nuMini would be great, too. I use Screens to remotely access my Mac from anywhere in the house (I could set up remote access via the internet but don’t need that personally). If I need to do I/O intensive stuff on the MBP I use it directly.

    • iPad for anything that can be done on iOS
    • Screens to MBP for Mac-specific but non-intensive use
    • MBP directly for intense stuff like games.
    Works brilliantly!
  5. SmackBookPro macrumors regular

    Jan 11, 2018
    I had my dream Mac, a 13” MBP TouchBar with 512GB. But it had keyboard issues and having had a 2017 model with three repairs done to it I asked for a refund.

    Then, after considering Windows and all sorts of ideas I opted for a Mac Mini 6-core. Just got it set up yesterday. It’s much more ergonomic and comfortable for working on than hunching over a laptop and I can take it between home and work when I need to. Also much more space on the screen to work with.

    Then I decided I’d buy myself and my girlfriend an iPad each with Logitech keyboard case. That’d do for portability, taking notes etc.

    But I’m gonna wait until the end of March as I think a new budget model could be released.

    I really hope this setup works better than the laptop.
  6. Visionblue thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 16, 2013
    Glad you have found a system that works for you! I considered a used MacBook Pro instead to have the ability to have a portable if necessary.
  7. SmackBookPro macrumors regular

    Jan 11, 2018
    My only issue with the MBP was the keyboard having issues, the screen getting scratched by the keys due to being so thin and the inevitable reduction in battery life (and reliability) over time. I had Apple Care, so Apple would fix it no problem but it was the long drive to the Apple store and being without it for a week that I couldn’t deal with, as I needed it for work.

    The Mac Mini just needs a monitor, keyboard and mouse at work and home and I can lift it between sites.

    The iPad is portable, strong, reliable and even after 3 years I’ve seen them in great shape only limited by their old processors inside. It’ll be great for taking notes and on-the-move.

    I came to the realisation that in cars, trains, planes, lecture theatres, meetings and Starbucks I wasn’t actually doing any work that required such a powerful machine - I was more preparing or planning or communicating.

    Still waiting for the iPad half of my setup this month, but first day on Friday with the Mac mini was great!
  8. MacDevil7334 macrumors 65816


    Oct 15, 2011
    Austin TX
    I have a setup like this currently: a 2017 iMac for photo editing and serious work and a 2018 12.9” iPad Pro for taking notes at work and light work on the go. This setup works great so long as you understand its limitations. What I mean by this, is the iPad can do pretty much everything I need it to. But there are many things on the iPad that are just a little harder to do than they would be on a laptop (or they require a workaround like a Siri shortcut to get done at all). The most obvious is the lack of a dedicated file system (the Files app is only a partial solution) makes finding and managing documents needlessly difficult. You can’t have more than one instance of an app open, meaning you can’t do things like have two word documents or excel spreadsheets open side by side. And there are lots of instances where you need a 3rd party app to perform a basic operation, and that basic operation is then only available to other apps via the share sheet, which is awkward.

    Rumor has it that many of these issues will be addressed with iOS 13 later this year. But, those are only rumors at this point. As it stands right now, iOS has kneecapped the capability of the iPad hardware pretty badly, especially when you consider just how good the new iPad Pro hardware is and the 25% price hike Apple added to them. You can do most of the things you need to, and taking notes with the pencil is a pleasure. Just know what you are getting into compared to a laptop experience.
  9. spacebro macrumors 6502a

    Oct 1, 2015
    A Mac mini with iPad Pro is a great setup right now. I currently use a 2015 MacBook Pro but I never take it anywhere because it is so heavy and bulky. It has not left my desk in over a year. I rarely even open it anymore. My iPad can remote into it as needed, this is how I use Xcode lately. The jump app works flawlessly if both devices are on fast networks. Its as if your iPad is running macOS. I would keep the Mac mini in my entertainment center so it can be wired and so I can use my main tv as its monitor if I ever have to. This way my desk can be completely free because all it needs is the iPad stand and magic keyboard. It is so easy to grab the iPad and take it anywhere and still have access to Xcode and macOS.
  10. ZEEN0j macrumors 65816


    Sep 29, 2014
    Current setup is a 2013 iMac and a 2018 iPad Pro 12,9. I sold my 2016 MacBook Pro as I didn’t use it all that much and my use of the shortcuts app the iPad felt like a better fit. So far I feel it was a good decision. I hardly ever “use” my iMac. It just acts as a server for different things. The rest I do on my iPad.
  11. subjonas macrumors 68000

    Feb 10, 2014
    There are a lot of factors involved of course, but personally, unless I had a specific need for a large tablet, I’d rather have a super portable laptop like a 12” mb or 13” mba which I think is better suited to handle more tasks (connected to one or two monitors at home when needed) and a super portable tablet like an iPad mini which I think is better suited for casual consumption, especially reading (I only watch shows and movies on my tv). I suppose big iPad remote to Mac could work, but I’m not too keen on the idea of depending on internet access.

    Only two years?? My 2012 rmbp is coming up on its 7th year and it’s still working as perfectly as it did the first day! Never needed a repair or anything. I’m amazed at this thing.
  12. MyopicPaideia macrumors 68000


    Mar 19, 2011
    Trollhättan, Sweden
    I have this setup as well. An iPad mini as a companion to an iMac with external RAID setup for photos and media libraries.

    iPad is definitely a laptop replacement in this use case. Makes it completely redundant.
  13. SmackBookPro macrumors regular

    Jan 11, 2018
    Desktop Mac as 'the truck' when needed or to bust seriously intense work sessions with great comfort, posture and ergonomics. Then a life friendly iPad that's easy to use, easy to put down and you don't need to hunch over (compared to a laptop) seems a superior setup to me.

    I really hated how glued I was to the laptop and how restricting it was. Plus my posture at work was terrible for hours of the day!
  14. subjonas macrumors 68000

    Feb 10, 2014
    Do you use your iPad for work now? If so, are you holding it up for hours at a time? Isn’t that tiring?
    Another option many people do at work that helps correct ergonomics for a laptop is use an external monitor and sometimes keyboard.
  15. TomOSeven macrumors 6502


    Jul 4, 2017
    Yeah but the 2012 one had the old keyboard.

    Once the butterfly keyboard is out of warranty, repairs become prohibitively expensive.
  16. SmackBookPro macrumors regular

    Jan 11, 2018
    No, I use a Mac mini and I bring it between home and work. I have a keyboard, mouse and display at both ends. Superior ergonomics. The iPad is for home use and personal tasks but if I need the Mac it’s there too
    --- Post Merged, Mar 18, 2019 ---
    It’s £350 to get a mid-2012 MacBook Pro keyboard fixed by Apple. That’s what ended mines at 3 years old. Tried a number of eBay replacement keyboards but nothing really worked.
  17. subjonas macrumors 68000

    Feb 10, 2014
    Wow you bring your mini back and forth? Well, I guess of all desktop computers, that’s the most portable.
  18. SmackBookPro macrumors regular

    Jan 11, 2018
    Yeah! One week in, and I've got til Thursday to return it using Apple's policy but really, I can't think of any reason to. Sure the MacBook is nice but its £2,000+ and under intense use, leading to failures and I don't want all my eggs in one basket.
  19. Picapau21 macrumors 6502

    Apr 26, 2015
    Hi Guys, Interesting Thread. I currently use a 15" MBP TB for all my computing and do light reading on my iPhone X.

    Been thinking about getting an iPad Pro, 10" or mini for note taking with the pencil and general reading.

    Cant decide if I need more than the mini. The keyboard would be useful but only if I stopped using the MDP. My day to day computing is heavy use of browsing, word processing, email often with multiple tabs, documents and emails in various states of composition. I also use MS office apps a lot. I don't do any video editing or image processing.

    Any thoughts or advice would be helpful. Stuck between the three options and obviously quite a difference in price between the three.


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