Gruber reviews Apple’s iPad Pro: A MacBook replacement for many

“First impressions last a lifetime, goes the adage,” John Gruber writes for Daring Fireball. “You’re going to have to forget your first impressions of the iPad to understand the iPad Pro.”

“The iPad Pro now impresses solely by dint of its engineering. Anyone who doesn’t see this is blinded by their established impressions of the first few iPads,” Gruber writes. “For the moment, put aside the form factor differences (tablet with optional keyboard vs. hinged clamshell), conceptual differences in iOS and OS X (direct touchscreen manipulation of full-screen apps vs. a mouse pointer and tiled windows) and software differences (simpler iOS apps vs. more complex OS X apps). All those points are worth consideration, but for now, put them aside. Right now, today, the iPad Pro is a peer to the current lineup of MacBooks in terms of computational hardware performance.”

“For me, the iPad Pro marks the turning point where iPads are no longer merely lightweight (both physically and conceptually) alternatives to MacBooks for use in simple scenarios, to where MacBooks will now start being seen as heavyweight alternatives to iPads for complex scenarios,” Gruber writes. “Is it a MacBook replacement for me, personally? No. For you? Maybe. For many people? Yes. It brings me no joy to observe this, but the future of mass market portable computing involves neither a mouse pointer nor an x86 processor.”

Tons more in the full review here.

MacDailyNews Take: Oh, but John, there can be much, much joy without the mouse, its pointer, or x86 processors! Magic, even.

Hopefully, though, Apple won’t stop making trucks for people like us until comfortably after we discover we no longer need them because Apple has obviated their need to exist.

Death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. — Steve Jobs

Mossberg reviews Apple’s iPad Pro: Graphics folks will love it, but I’m sticking with my iPad Air – November 11, 2015
The Verge reviews Apple’s iPad Pro: Could this replace my MacBook? – November 11, 2015

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]


  1. Yet another reviewer asking the largely irrelevant question, can it replace a laptop. The iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil is a PRO device. It has separate and distinct capabilities from a laptop. They are different but complementary tools that just happen to have quite a few common capabilities. A professional carpenter has a Table saw, a radial arm saw, a band saw, a miter saw, a jig saw, a reciprocating saw, several hand saws, and maybe several other special types of saws that make it possible to do their best work. I have several computers, including a MacBook Pro, plus an iPhone, an iPod shuffle, and a couple iPads. My new iPad Pro and Apple Pencil will add to the choice of tools I have available to do my best work. None of my other Apple tools have to be replaced by it.

    1. Gruber is a fanboy idiot. This won’t replace a point and click device. Anyone who has ever used a computer with any serious intention to productivity will never use something like an iPad instead of larger screened, more powerful, precise desktops/laptops.

      People keep asking the same stupid question: will this replace a laptop. We heard this when the very first iPad came out. And now this again.

      The answer is no. The combination of the software and hardware make this product a TABLET. A narrowly confined device meant more for consumption than productivity. Just sit beside somebody with a laptop and do the same set of tasks inside a spreadsheet. You’ll see them skate circles around you. The act of having to lift your hand from the keyboard to select things on screen is slow and unweildly.

      I haven’t even started with how there’s no real file system in iOS, or the hundred other things wrong with thinking a tablet can be a laptop replacement.

      5 years ago these geek reviewers were asking the same questions about iPad 1. Years have past and they should know by now you can’t take the tablet out of a tablet. Making the screen bigger and adding a stylus won’t change that.

      1. “Gruber is a fanboy idiot.”

        come on dswe, no… He’s NOT. some good points but don’t use that age old fanboy crap – CATCH UP, GROW UP and BE POSITIVE. or else you’ll sound like an idiot.

        1. C:

          I agree. I was a bit harsh in Gruber. I’m just at a breaking point with the tech industry. It’s the same old tired rhetoric on the same issues we’ve already concluded on years ago. It’s like people have nothing better to do but pontificate.

  2. IAs an artist/musician, I want one- it will be invaluable to me. Does that mean I want to give up my phone and truck? No way. But my phone and truck, as much as they’re needed, cannot do what this thing can. Don’t get it if you don’t need it. But it just may be something you’ve been waiting for.

    1. You are correct in what you’re saying, however and I may be making a over estimation here but I believe that the majority of potential customers out there (me included) simply don’t need a phone a truck and a professional iPad, however if you could somehow combine the truck (laptop) with a professional iPad that doesn’t make any compromises ( which is now totally possible) I and many tens of millions of others would suddenly see a compelling reason to buy one whether they need it or not. I just wish Apple would stop messing around with these niche products and produce what we all really want, it’s going to happen at some point in the near future, just bite the bullet and do it Apple.

    2. @auramac: I am considering an iPad Pro for music scoring with an app called Notion, which has a Mac version that can share files. The Apple Pencil to enter notes at a keyboard seems ideal. As a music production tool, I have found my 2015 13″ Retina Macbook Pro to be sorely lacking and I’m replacing it with the newest fully-tricked-out 5K iMac — I need more than six virtual instrument tracks at one time and in the 6-8 track area the Macbook Pro starts misbehaving both in RAM and in processor. The best tool for the best use case, if you can afford them all.

  3. Mossberg and Gruber are both primarily writers, so it’s pretty obvious that when they review a device optimised for graphics professionals, they are going to conclude that it’s not for them.

    They’re being entirely honest and sensible as viewed from their perspective, just as I wouldn’t expect a successful commercial artist to be bowled over by a new spreadsheet app either.

    The iPad Pro isn’t the right product for everybody, but it’s an excellent product for a hell of a lot of people and I have a feeling that we may end up being somewhat surprised by the ways they end up being used.

  4. “Replacement” paints it like a mere alternative with a couple of nice little extra abilities. It’s a different thing, opening up another area of capability.
    As elsewhere – very well said, ET. And you too, auramac and alanaudio. All great points, if I may say so.

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