Mac mini+Monitor+ 2021 12.9 iPad Pro & NO MBP?

I am about to upgrade my iPhone, iPad, and Mac. I will be ordering a new M1 iPad 12.9 on Friday. This fall I plan to order a new iPhone and MBP. But, I’m wondering if based on my use case if I should try something different. Given the varied experiences and workflows of those in this forum, I’m seeking advice and/or real world experiences.

To set the context for my question, here are my primary computer needs and workflow–simplified. I use a computer/iPad for:

  • Writing (including brainstorming, research, references, blog, proposals, publishing)
  • Communication (email, this forum, occasional Slack with Craft developers, Messages)
  • Presentations (speaking notes, Keynote)
  • Project management (personal and team)
  • Light spreadsheet work
  • Google docs and Office 365 for collaboration
  • OCR, file conversion
  • Light photography editing
  • Web browsing
  • Watching an occasional video or movie

I do most of my work at the office and home, with some travel now beginning (includes some international travel).

Historically I’ve used the iPad and MBP 13" for my computing needs. But, I’m wondering if I should get a Mac mini with a great monitor OR new iMac (I’ve never used one) for the office and rely on the iPad for working from home and traveling (I always just take the iPad for traveling). There are only a few times when I use my laptop for meetings at work–usually I just use the iPad. I also find it better for spreadsheets and document collaboration.

The one downside I see to the above is that if I use the iPad for projecting slides I will not have it available for my speaking notes. I could use paper but I try to function completely paper free. I suppose I could add an iPad mini for my notes when using the larger iPad for projecting slides during a presentation.

I suspect that going with Mac mini will save some money but honestly, money is not a factor in the decision. IF I purchase a Mac mini is would be the Apple M1 Chip with 8-Core CPU and 8-Core GPU, 512GB Storage.

Thoughts on this? Advice? Based on my workflow needs, what would I lose, if anything, by not having a MBP?

Mac Mini + biggest monitor you feel comfortable buying = Win.

full disclosure: I am not a fan of the little iMac and consider it a machine for students or extremely casual users.


From what you’ve written, that sounds like a usable setup.

I think that you can present from an ipad whilst seeing your notes. If not can you do this iphone + ipad?

I use ipad as my daily carry computer and a Mac Mini for Media server and Photos Backup (along with a few other bits)

Depends a lot on your budget.

First of all, for presentations: you can perfectly run them from the phone. I’ve been doing that for years, piloting them from either the Watch or a Satechi remote. You don’t need the iPad.

FWIW, I’m never buying an iMac again. I dislike the idea of all-in-one machines generally, I prefer something modular I can adjust as needs go. Also, my iMac screen failed once and almost a second time, and bringing the whole computer for repair was a major hassle. I can understand bringing a machine for repair if the brain fails, but to me, having to buy a new screen with a new computer, even if it’s every few years, seems hugely wasteful. I bought and M1 Mini, I have an external SSD, external screens, and I’m very happy to be able to switch parts of that kit in the future (actually a screen and the SSD come from my previous iMac setup and are still in perfect working order).

Is your current iPad limited in any way for your workflow? Are you indeed able to do everything on iPadOS? What do you expect of the M1 in the tablet? After seeing this year that Apple intends to keep iPadOS simple, I believe an MBP (with the stellar battery life of the M1) makes for a far superior mobility machine (I’ll be buying a 14’ myself this fall and give up on the iPad except for handwriting and content consumption – I will likely sell my Magic Keyboard at this point). Apps are just more powerful, you have text expansion, and so on.

I have used a 2018 12.9 iPad Pro with the Magic Keyboard and 4G connectivity quite a lot as a mobility machine. I honestly don’t get the hype and “delight” people talk about with this machine. Yes, it’s elegant and very portable, but the frustrations begin as soon as you power it up. The only think I really like about this use is integrated 4G connectivity. But for the price and footprint, now that MBPs have stellar battery life, give me a MacBook any day.

Yet, I like my iPad Pro a lot, if I take it as it’s visibly designed to be (= a computer my Dad can use, but I’m endlessly frustrated with), and it’s still perfect for doing what I’m asking of it, so unless you come from the first generation models without FaceID, I don’t see the point of buying the M1 models. I intend to run my 2018 into the ground unless Apple somehow makes the M1 or ulterior generations truly worthwhile. But it’s clearly not the intended direction, and I accept that, and so I don’t see the use of the M1.

To sum up

  • I would not be want to be without a MBP on the road
  • I would stick with my current iPad unless it’s really too old, don’t see the benefit of upgrading
  • I would get a killer desktop
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This is where I come down too.

I’ve never actually owned an iMac, but I’ve played with them in the store plenty of times. The monitors are absolutely beautiful, and if somebody gave me one free and clear I wouldn’t refuse it.

But I really don’t like the idea of my computer being tied to my monitor, and paying a premium for that feature. Especially since I’m a fan of large monitors (I’m currently using a 40" - blame bad eyesight!), and Apple doesn’t even make those…but I can pick up a well-specced Mac Mini + monitor for much less than the cost of the 27" iMac.

The nice side benefit of this is that my old computers are very, very easy to repurpose for other projects. I have a 2012 Mac Mini that’s functioning in a “server” capacity, and a 2018 Mini that’s my “main” computer. Screen Sharing + a static IP FTW. :slight_smile:

Potentially dumb questions about to follow. :smiley: Couldn’t you just use your phone? Or is that too small? Or could your phone in DND / Airplane mode handle the projection, and your iPad handle the notes?

And of course if you’re using software other than Keynote, there’s always the possibility of a dedicated “presentation” computer that could literally take the form of an HDMI dongle. Might be easier than goofing around with a separate iPad. I’ve thought of doing this many, many times - but my use case is limited enough that I couldn’t cost-justify it. :slight_smile:

Just making sure that you’re also doing 16 GB RAM, if money really isn’t a factor. Check all the future-proofing boxes you can!


Or could your phone in DND / Airplane mode handle the projection

It works perfectly, to the point that if you hook you phone to an external display converter, iOS turns DND on by default, understanding you probably don’t want to broadcast your notifications.

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Not a dumb question at all, that option was mentioned above as well. The problem (I think because I’ve only tried this once or twice), is that I need to see the slides in front of me when presenting. I don’t use a lot of text on slides, mostly visuals. Here are three examples:

Keynote Remote 2

I also don’t turn away from the audience to look at slides behind me. I always have the presenter mode in front of me that way I can maintain eye contact and presence with the audience, which usually ranges in size from 30 to ~1,000.

The problem with the iPhone (I plan to purchase the Pro Max size) is that it is small compared to the MBP or iPad 112.9, which can make it hard to see the slide and the next slide when speaking to an audience. This is especially true if lighting not he stage is not good, and it often is not. How does one work around that?

If I thought I could get your suggestion to work, I would love to use the iPhone with my Satechi remote.

Personally, I walk around, I joke a lot, I have a gently provoking, very conversational presentation style. Even if I am supposed to stay in one place presenting like a serious person, I endeavor as soon as possible to prove that I am indeed not a serious person and make it my duty to walk around and weave Dad jokes in a philosophical discourse.
… that’s when I glance at the screen. :grin:

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That’s one of my presentation secrets. If your audience is distracted because they’re laughing at a joke, that buys you coverage for a multitude of presentation sins. :smiley:

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Yes, that is precisely how I present as well—usually staring with a relevant story. I find myself in front of the podium, near the edge of the stage far more than behind the podium, But, for technical stuff, I need to see my notes. This seems like it would be hard on the iPad when trying to see both the current and next slides in presenter mode AND my speaking notes. This is why I’ve tended to use the MBP to project and see, iPad for my speaker notes and the remote for switching slides.

Am I wrong about this? There may be something I’m not doing right.

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Indeed, humor and love cover a multitude of sins! :slight_smile:


Presentation skills are an art. I can do it with just four or five words for a bullet. But my manager wants the entire thesis on the presentation decks. Says he will not follow without all the matter on it. Senior management says can you give a brief summary. End of the day I need to make 2 decks. Talk about wasted time and effort.

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Indeed! I would think he would accept a written document to supplement the slides.


Presentation styles will of course vary widely. However, I find that having notes or glancing at them is usually more distracting for the audience than having no notes and improvising in a friendly, talkative way while glancing at the slides. If I have a slide deck, I never, ever have notes (did not even have them when I defended my MSc’s 20 years ago). I have done 15 years of improv theater, though, which helps a lot. I’ve suffered so many shames in front of audiences (nothing worse than having jokes fall flat in front of 1000 people) in my improv career that I’m permanently bullet-proof, which is clearly not for the faint of heart :sweat_smile:

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I concur, this is ideal. It works best when I am giving a talk I’ve given many times before. However, some of my presentations require quoting and being very specific about technical details and data. I am not a good memorizer so I need notes from some things. :slight_smile:


That’s clearly a different case. Would a small card you nonchalantly keep in hand be enough?

Unfortunately no. :frowning:

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For some reason your slides did not appear initially in the thread. Really, that’s just me so of course feel free to disregard what I’m saying but most of this I would not mind turning 3/4 to the audience to read the sentence or the quote needed. You do get away with a million things with an audience if you convey absolute confidence. (Improv lesson again.)

If course, it all depends on what form you want to focus on. I prefer having no notes to the cost of sometimes glancing at the screen. You might think it’s sacrilegious to turn part of your back to the audience :slightly_smiling_face:

Anyway, that’s straying a lot from the gear question… :sweat_smile:

@anon85228692 this is good stuff from you as usual! We should start a new thread: Presentation tips and tricks—hardware, software, style.

As to the slides, I added them after posting. :slight_smile:

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Looking over your computer needs and workflow….I do almost all of those things on both setups I have. (minus the spreadsheet work, I still prefer sitting at my desk with a monitor for that one).

But I have the new M1 Mac Mini with an LG 27 inch monitor, the primary reason was the multiple inputs. I have my Mac Mini, Nintendo Switch, and PS5 all hooked up.

99% of apps and workflow on the M1 Mac Mini are replicated on the iPad (2019). I don’t think you would lose anything with the MBP. As far as projecting slides, it’s been a while since I did that, but I thought there was an option to view your speaker notes. In previous speaking engagements that I had, I would use my iPad to project the slides, and I would open Evernote or Ulysses that had my speaking notes. Once Apple releases and updates the iPad Mini, that will be my “speaker notebook”.

Your setup looks good, seize the day!

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