So I’ve had my iPad Mini for about a month now and have spent a fair amount of time evaluating its capabilities and potential usefulness. As I’ve said before, I’ve often been a bit puzzled as to the purpose of a tablet, especially for a person who owns a smartphone and a laptop. The question that was bouncing around in my mind was: What niche or unique role does this gadget serve that the others don’t?
I think I’ve found a few answers to that. The overall answer is that it kind of doesn’t — many of the things I’d do with the iPad I could do with one of my other devices. But that’s not the end of that answer either. The Mini straddles the line between laptop and smartphone by proving more portability than the former and more screen space than the latter, and that’s where I’m finding it useful.
For portability, it’s just not practical to have my laptop out on my small desk or in bed with me at night. It’s too bad, because I’ve got all my MMOs on my laptop, but oh well. With the tablet, I’ve got a device that’s far easier to take anywhere and use with minimal setup (I purchased a leather cover that can transform into a stand). It’s a great gadget to have in bed at night, to take for a little bathroom reading, or even to set up on my desk to watch a little Netflix while I grind mobs.
The mini is a definite improvement over the sheer size of the regular iPad. I’ll gladly trade off the retina screen for a tablet that’s the size of a larger paperback book, because it’s easier to hold, to transport, and to use. It can be put in just about anything, and I dig that.
What really surprised me is how much I enjoy the extra screen space. Realize that for years now, I had gotten very used to operating on the iPhone’s really small screen. I played games on it, wrote on it, watched movies on it, and read on it. For sheer portability the phone is great (the iPhone is always with me; the iPad isn’t), but I don’t mind setting the phone down when it comes to, say, reading Kindle on a bigger screen. No longer am I flicking to a new page every three seconds, because now the screen can handle a normal book page’s worth of content. I also am definitely liking the bigger screen for strategy and RPG titles, although my hands won’t stretch as far on the bigger screen if it came to more actiony stuff that requires a lot more movement (at least on the iPhone, everything’s always within easy reach).
It’s a pleasure to do blog reading on the tablet through my reader, which is something that always frustrated me on the iPhone. That’s definitely nice. And the battery life has proven to be quite good.
There are some iPad-exclusive apps that are quite nice to have, such as Baldur’s Gate and Magic 2013, and some of the universal apps look and function better on the tablet.
There are a few downsides, however. My mini only has 16 gigabytes of memory, so it’s really just there for apps and little else. My 32-gig iPhone has a lot of my music and movies, which makes it more well-rounded. I’m also nervous to bring the mini outside with me, since I can see this as being easily losable or stealable.
By no means am I done evaluating its capabilities, however. I do want to get a bluetooth keyboard for it to see if I can start using it for some of my normal activities on it. I also need to figure out how to get my iTunes account to accept that I don’t necessarily want to sync up the same applications and downloads on both of these devices.
For those of you that do own an iPad or an iPad mini, what apps do you find especially useful on them?