The First Look At The iPad Mini & What It Has To Offer

iPad mini icon   The First Look At The iPad Mini & What It Has To OfferWell the Apple iPad Mini has arrived, and Dave was correct back in May about why Apple should have released a smaller iPad 3 and bigger iPod touch device. As Dave outlined, the mini addresses the needs of different users; the entry price is lower and thus affordable for many consumers, and it competes pretty well with the Nexus and Windows tablets.

But now that I’ve had my iPad Mini for over 24 hours, I’d like to give some first hand reactions as to what is good and not so good about it. Along the way, I’ll suggest a few essential apps that work well with it, as well as share some ideas on how supporting apps could be improved to make the mini more useable.

Why I Purchased It

I purchased the Apple iPad Mini mainly for two reasons – my original iPad 1 is not supported by iOS 6, which contains several productivity features I find useful, and secondly, the larger size original iPad began to wear on me for the purposes of e-reading. I’ve longed for a Kindle size reader, but I waited to see if Apple would produce it. However, if I had already purchased the iPad 3 I’m not sure if I would have got the iPad Mini, considering the high price of both devices.

iPad mini box   The First Look At The iPad Mini & What It Has To Offer

The Smaller Size

Most definitely, the iPad Mini is a larger size iPod touch. So does that make it worth purchasing? I would say yes only if you find the iPod touch or iPhone a little too small for media consumption, and the regular iPad a little too large or cumbersome to hold in various situations.

Yes, I can hold the iPad in one hand (though that might not be the case for people with smaller hands), but I have found that the handheld iPad Mini is not perfectly comfortable for holding for longer periods of time. The Mini may be as thin as a paper notebook, but it is still not as lightweight as one.

ipad mini handheld4   The First Look At The iPad Mini & What It Has To Offer

I am most comfortable holding the Mini lying down with it propped up on my stomach, which is how I have always held the original iPad for extended reading periods. I also find that the sides of the Mini are a little too thin for holding the device comfortably. This is not a huge problem, but it may be so for people with larger thumbs than mine.

ipad mini sides copy   The First Look At The iPad Mini & What It Has To Offer

Readability Factors

I think the iPad Mini will largely appeal to people like myself who use the iPad primarily as a reading device. I use apps like Pocket: Read It Later, Instapaper, NewsRack, GoodReader, Amazon for the iPad, and the Zinio magazine reader to consume most of the articles, books and other documents I read on a daily basis.

As I predicted, I find the iPad Mini an almost perfect reading device because of the smaller form factor. When I pop open a Kindle e-book on the Mini, it feels a lot more like I’m reading a mid-size paperback book.

However, I find iPad apps in which you can increase the text font size most useful for the Mini. Though existing iPad apps will work on the Mini, it is clear that some developers will need to update their apps so that the interface text and icons are a few points larger for the smaller size iPad. Apple for one needs to make these updates in its Mail, Notes, And Reminders apps.

iPad font size   The First Look At The iPad Mini & What It Has To Offer

Reading articles on the iPad Mini has also taken me back to using Instapaper again, instead of the Read It Later Pocket app. Instapaper’s unique tilt scrolling feature is perfect for the iPad Mini. Not only does it save you the trouble of manually scrolling pages but it actually can increase the speed of reading articles. Too bad this feature is not in the latest iBooks 3 update.

An Awesome Notepad

While I don’t think the iPad Mini is useful as a laptop replacement, I already find it a very useful writing notepad. Because of the default speech-to-text dictation feature in iOS 6 (which is another reason I purchased the device) you can easily and quickly dictate notes in any text supporting app. In addition to the device’s built-in microphone, I like to use the remote microphone on the Apple earplugs for dictating extended pieces of writing. It would be even more productive if the remote control could actually activate a dictation feature.

Drafts app   The First Look At The iPad Mini & What It Has To Offer

Apps like Drafts, Evernote, Day One, and aNote HD are beautifully suited for writing in the iPad mini. Each of them as a comfortable user interface, and are setup for syncing notes between devices.

Miscellaneous Items

I purchased the 16 GB Wi-Fi version of the iPad Mini simply because I don’t travel as much as I used to, and thus don’t need a lot of space. I won’t for example be adding more than a gigabyte of music or video files to the device. I do have to say however 16GB is pretty low for heavy users of the iPad. Over the next two years, as I add more apps, documents and e-books, the lack of  storage will definitely be a problem that I will have to manage –primarily using cloud storage services.  No doubt this first version of the Mini will be unsupported by future iOS updates that will make the device nearly as outdated as my iPad 1.

The Mini is also the first time I’ve used the Apple Smart cover, which is very handy for quickly turning the device on and off when you lift up and close down the cover. However, I don’t find the Cover very stylish and will probably order this Men’s Cover case from Etsy.

ipad case etsy   The First Look At The iPad Mini & What It Has To Offer

I also think the base entry price for the iPad Mini ($329) is about thirty bucks overpriced, especially considering that Apple knew that a significant percentage of their current iPad 3 customers would probably want to update to the smaller device. I suspect that Apple will bring down the price of the Mini in about a year, but it will release another version with Retina display.

Speaking of Retina display, I still can’t say it matters much in my eyes. I put the Mini alongside my wife’s iPad 3 and the difference in display presentation simply does not jump out for me. But I’m sure that over time Apple will find ways to make the display and the text sharper in all versions of the iPad.

iPad ipad mini1   The First Look At The iPad Mini & What It Has To Offer

Well that’s my initial assessment of the Apple iPad Mini. I’ll no doubt be writing a few more articles about useful apps for the device, but in the meantime, it would be great to hear your views. Let us know if you purchased one, plus why or why not?

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42 Comments -

0 votes

Nathan Walker

Regarding the issue of the sides being too thin to hold:

Apple has specially programmed the iPad mini so that you can rest your thumb (or any other part of your hand, for that matter) partially on the screen, and the operating system will not register a touch.

So, don’t be afraid to touch the screen a bit to make holding the iPad more comfortable.

0 votes

Bakari Chavanu

Hey Nathan, I agree for the most part touching the screen on the side is not a big problem, but it is so while I’m reading in the Kindle app. Often when I touch the screen on the side, the pages just start flipping. This could be a problem with the app.

0 votes

Rahul

Thanks for the article…i was looking for article with personal opinion..and glad it clear some of them..i would be happy..if you

1. Put more photos (side angle, bevel)
2. Reading experience on this device
3. Carrying /convenience , comparison with iPad

0 votes

Bakari Chavanu

Thanks Rahul. In fact I would like see if my editor would agree to second article. Now that I’ve had some time with the mini, I have few more things to say that didn’t get included. Your suggestions are very good. Thanks.

0 votes

michel

so you use it as a reading device … how does it handle Gutenberg texts?

0 votes

Bakari Chavanu

Michel, I don’t really know what the Gutenberg texts are all about. When I get some time I need to check into that.

0 votes
0 votes

Bumferry Hogart

I can’t seem to take to the idea of tablet computers. There really is nothing better than a proper REAL keyboard. I have a smartphone and use the touch screen for texting which is fine, nut can’t imagine typing documents on a “virtual” keyboard.

What else is a tablet useful for other than watching a video? other products are made to a specific job like an MP3 player laptop etc. I can understand the theory of having one product to replace some of the tasks one might use other things for but are tablets REALLY that good considering the prices asked for (at least with apple products anyway).

Maybe I’m just getting too old. (I’m 32 – hahahaha)

0 votes

Bakari Chavanu

I use the tablet mainly for reading–ebooks, articles; browsing websites, watching video clips, listening to music and podcasts, writing notes, etc. But I value it most for reading. I’ve gone completely paperless since I started using the iPad. I rarely print anything out these days, and I do all my notes on the iPad or my Mac.

0 votes

Laga Mahesa

Talking of notes… have you tried many note and sketching apps? The king in my collection right now is Inkflow, purely because it is the only one I am aware off that will let you select, using a Photoshop-like Lasso tool, the copy/paste/delete/resize/rotate your selection.

Eraser tools are all fine and well, but that gets old on regular paper, never mind a tablet.

0 votes

Bakari Chavanu

You know, I’ve tried some of the sketch apps, but my penmanship is so bad now that I rarely write anything by hand. I do keep Bamboo Paper on my device for times when I need to jot down stuff while on the phone.

0 votes

Laga Mahesa

My suggestion? Adjust. Touch isn’t going anywhere and will only get more prevalent. I’m 36, saw the writing on the wall, and haven’t looked back.

If you’re a tech, get a terminal app like Prompt and use that for admin, and use Screens for VNC. That will get you more accustomed to virtual keyboards without realizing it.

0 votes

Keith Swartz

Very nice comparison/description of the iPad & iPad Mini. I realized quite a few things I had not before concerning the functions, sizes & weights.

0 votes

Bakari Chavanu

Thanks, Keith, appreciate your feedback. Some people will find the iPad mini a little small, but it’s just the right fit for me between the iPhone and the larger iPad. Great for reading. I can easily carry around the iPad mini anywhere I go, though I still prefer the iPhone as my number mobile device.

0 votes

Jon Smith

how would you compare it with the nexus 7 and new kindle fire hd?

0 votes

Bakari Chavanu

Sorry, Jon, I haven’t used those devices yet. Hopefully someone else can address your question. I would say though I stick with Apple mainly because I’m invested in its ecosystem, so switch to another device may mean giving up a lot of those apps and hardware I’ve already purchased.

0 votes

Eric S

I have only been using laptops and never used the iPad before. May be interested to get one if I can know the difference, other than just the smaller size and easy to carry. Is it really easy to use? Is it easy to do typing, considering the small size?

0 votes

Bakari Chavanu

Erick, I don’t like using the built-in keyboard on the iPad. Just can’t type fast enough. So I either use the dictation feature as much as I can, and if I were to use it as a laptop, I’d use an external keyboard for faster typing. Remember also, you can’t have more than one app open at a time on the iPad, so basically it would be most useful for typing text documents. If you’ve never used an iPad, I highly suggest going to an Apple Store if you can just playing around with it. It’s hard to know how well it fit your needs until you get your hands on it. Hope this helps some.

0 votes

ha14

small is better for travelling, how much last the battery comparing to ipad 1 for example.

0 votes

Bakari Chavanu

ha14, I’m getting a full day of batter use. I can’t say that equals 10 hours of constant use, but just regular web browsing, checking mail, watching a few videos, downloading RSS feeds throughout the day and evening gets me through on single charge. With the iPad 1, I charged at least 2 times a day with heavy use. I don’t play games on my device, just mainly use it for reading purposes, writing notes.

0 votes

Lewis Morgan

Great article thanks. I decided not to buy it because I don’t want to have one whilst having an iPad and an iPhone. It feels like having one in the middle would be just too much!

I can’t decide whether to sell iPad and get the mini

0 votes

Bakari Chavanu

Lewis, I agree. Having both an iPad and a mini would be too much. I ended up turning my iPad 1 into a kind of family media device, but to be honest it’s no longer getting that much use, not even by my kids. My wife has the iPad 3, but I’m glad I never got it. I much prefer the mini for smaller form factor. The display could be better, but it’s okay for now. I know Apple will be popping out an mini 2 say around June or September of next year, so that’s why I bought the 16gig model. I may or may not upgrade then depending how much more they offer. Buying Apple products is becoming increasingly expensive for me, and there’s a lot overlap in their devices, though I like them all.

0 votes

Laga Mahesa

I retire my older iDevices to secondary roles, if they’re not being used by a family member full time. My 3Gs – remote control, timelapse, IP camera. My current iPad 2 will become a media hub for the living room when I get a Mini.

The lifespan of an Apple device is usually far longer than any other brand in terms of software updates. By the time it is no longer getting the latest and greatest, I’m more than happy with the price:usage ratio.

0 votes

Lisa Santika Onggrid

The storage problem is solvable if only Apple gives you an option to add microSD or the like. I personally don’t like my data tied in a device. If stored in external storage, I can access my data even if something happened to the hardware. A bit oldschool in the advent of cloud-based solutions, maybe.

0 votes

Bakari Chavanu

Lisa, are you talking about having your all your data accessed in the cloud, instead of saved on the device? That sort of happens using say Dropbox. You don’t even have save email to your device. You can just check it online. Hope I’m understanding what you’re saying.

0 votes

Laga Mahesa

I used to think the same, but I came to realize that it doesn’t really apply if you regularly sync with your desktop and are NOT a pro photographer. I got a camera connection kit and an HDMI output adapter – I’ve never used the first, but frequently use the second.

My only gripe is the relative difficulty of transferring photos and videos to an iPad from an iPhone. Third party apps sometimes work, most times they don’t. A pass-through cable would be fantastic for this but such a beast doesn’t exist that I’m aware of.

0 votes

Bakari Chavanu

Laga, I use Photo Stream, but for videos I use Photosync which has worked well for me. It works between all the devices.

0 votes

claudine ratelle

I hope there will be more reviews. I’m looking to buy a tablet soon!

0 votes

Bakari Chavanu

Claudine, thanks for your feedback. I’m thinking there might one or two more reviews, but I need to check with my editor.

0 votes

Paolo Maffezzoli

Nice article with an interesting comparison of the iPad & iPad Mini. For my side , I prefer my current Ipad 2 because is more comfortable read magazines on a 10″. The iPad Mini could be interesting in mobility for reading books ( iBooks, Kindle apps , etc. ) and internet browsing.

0 votes

Bakari Chavanu

Paolo, you’re right, the larger size iPad definitely makes magazines feel and read like magazines. I’ve always liked that about the 10″ iPad. I subscribe to 3 magazines on it for that reason. But now that I’m using the iPad mini, I still like reading the magazines on it. I do have to pinch zoom the text to read the articles, but I was doing that with the 10″ as well. As for reading ebooks, I find that I had to actually change the font type and size in order to read comfortably. Helvetica works best for me. In lower light situations, it seems the sepia background works best for reading, rather the stark white background that can be too bright.

0 votes

Laga Mahesa

How long have you had an iPad? I ask because I no longer even consider magazines – compared to RSS feeds and other curated news feeds, magazines are way out of date, with information and news that is a month old. The only things left are the editorials, most of which are available online anyway through their own portals.

0 votes

Bakari Chavanu

I got the first iPad when it came out, and didn’t upgrade to another one until the iPad mini came out. I agree that magazines seem seem little outdated in a world of endless online “magazine” and blog sites. But I like and support publications like JazzTimes, The Nation, and Macworld or MacLife. My problem since the iPad came out is that I simply don’t have enough time to read all the stuff that I download and come across. My book reading is about half of what it used to be say 5 years ago.

0 votes

Laga Mahesa

RAM. This is my burning question. The 3rd and 4th gen iPads have 1Gb. Thankfully I am still on an iPad 2, so going Mini wouldn’t hurt that much.

For those going from newer iPads to the iPad Mini, though, here’s my question : has the drop in RAM availability been noticeable? Have apps suffered, has your max number of open tabs in web browsers dropped? Has photo editing become limited?

0 votes

Bakari Chavanu

Hmm, I haven’t noticed a slowness of apps launching or anything. But then again, I’m coming from the iPad 1 where things had started getting slow. It would take like 30 seconds for an app to delete.

0 votes

Boni Oloff

After reading this review, i decide not to use the iPad mini. The size looks not so comfortable for me..

0 votes

Bakari Chavanu

Boni, I’d definitely go check it out hands on first if you’re concerned about the size. If you don’t have an Apple Store near by, I do believe there’s a 14 days return, money back, policy for Apple hardware. But yeah, some people will find it too small.

0 votes

Boni Oloff

Yap, i’ll try to get intouch with it first.

0 votes

Eath Chantrea

It has both pros and cons, but the most important is you using for what purposes.

0 votes

Bakari Chavanu

You’re right, Eath. I think the important thing is that Apple has now made available different versions of the iPad that fits the needs of different people. So you just have to choose the one that fits your purposes and needs. Thanks for the feedback.

0 votes

Kenneth Caldwell

I am thinking of buying an Ipad mini because my ipod touch 4th gen is just way to small and I don’t like the Ipads because they are too big. Do you think the Ipad mini 16 GB is a good choice for someone who doesn’t download to much? And also do you think it is much better than the Ipod 4th gen? Please help me decide if I shoul purchase this item.

0 votes

Bakari Chavanu

Kenneth, I think the iPad mini is great for reading ebooks and surfing the web. It’s a great size between the iPod touch and the larger iPad. 16 gigs is okay, but if you find yourself adding lots of documents, ebooks, photos, and apps, then 32 gigs might be better. I plan to step up to 32 gigs with the next version of the iPad. I’m already down to 2 gigs on my current iPad mini. You could buy an iPad mini, use it for a week, and if you don’t like it, just return it to Apple. Since I got the mini, I’ve used my older iPad 1 only a few times.