Evaluating the iPad Mini

apple_ipad_mini_sizesSo 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?


3 thoughts on “Evaluating the iPad Mini

  1. Jeromai January 3, 2013 / 9:47 pm

    Personally I need the larger screen space of the iPad, I have no clue how others manage to squint at their tiny screens. 🙂 I’ll deal with the less portable issues. It’s handy for quickly checking the internet without dealing with how long a computer takes to start up, and reading websites in desktop format, which I’m used to.

    App-wise, Goodreader for pdfs, Bluefire Reader for epubs are the two I find especially handy for carting around entire electronic libraries with me. Dropbox to help transfer stuff. I put in Overdrive to loan e-books out the local library, depending on where you live, your library might support it or not. I’ve got Azul for playing videos, but I don’t really play/watch vids on the iPad regularly, so I can’t say if it’s the greatest video player, it’s sufficient for my needs. FileApp worked for opening Microsoft Word documents and such when I need to open them.

    That pretty much ends the list of ‘useful’ stuff and goes on to timewasting and entertaining. Lot of good games out there. Plants vs Zombies (tower defence) and Fruit Ninja (arcade touch-slash-it) are staple evergreens. I’ve tried Infinity Blade (seemingly endless slash-it RPG) and Hunters 2 (turn-based strategy) and liked them. Bag it! (tetris-like inventory puzzler) and Dragonvale (Facebook-like breed-and-collect-all-the-things) are my latest addictions. Frotz is useful for playing text adventures / interactive fiction. And I’ve a huge collection of adventure gamebooks from the Fighting Fantasy range and Tin Man Games.

  2. Dave January 5, 2013 / 1:53 am

    I have an iPad 3 and I do enjoy it. The only thing that isn’t ideal is reading e-books. It is just too big and heavy. I still find myself using my MacBook Pro a lot for things just not possible or practical on the iPhone. It is getting better I use apps like Penultimate with a stylus for note taking. Pages, Numbers and Keynote work really well and with the onscreen keyboard I can take notes quickly as well plus it syncs well with the respective apps over iCloud. Compatibility with Office documents is good as well, although apparently Microsoft Office 2013 will have an iPad version. Dropbox is great. LogMeIn is good for accessing your computer online incase you leave something on you computer. Grafio is a really good app for doing flowcharts. Snapseed is a good app for editing photos. PhotoSync for transferring photos over Wi-Fi as I never connect to iTunes anymore. Spotify and TuneIn Radio for music. Flipboard for news. Kindle for Kindle books, iBooks for ePubs and PDFs. Goodreads is a nice social books app for discovering new books. There are loads of good VOD and TV apps depending on your country. I am not a big gamer but there are plenty to choose from on the App Store. The Mercury browser is a good if you want more features than Safari.

    It is good as a general browsing device as well. I am tempted by the iPad Mini but I am find myself doing more work on my iPad which the Mini wouldn’t be as good for. It seems a bit much for a better book reader. Although I am a sucker so I may end up getting a Mini to use at home and use my full fat iPad for work and my studies.

  3. Bristal January 5, 2013 / 7:55 pm

    I use my iPad primarily for reading, consuming online content like Reddit, and browsing Facebook posts. I use Flipboard the most to help organize content. At least twice a week it sits on the kitchen counter with a recipe while I cook. And it’s my go-to google access for random questions. The damn thing is glued to me while at home. It’s great when I’m “watching” a TV show with wife that I’m a bit bored with, or vice versa.

    Plus as an (well) over 40, there’s no way I can read anything other than texts on my iPhone anymore. Funny how things get smaller when you pass 40. Even Words with Friends is a pain on the iPhone. I don’t consume much content except when I’m at home.

    I cant imagine being without it.

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