I bought the original iPad, the iPad 2 (though I protested), and even the iPad 3. However, I eventually stopped using each of them. I could not find a compelling reason to carry it over my MacBook Air, other than to read books. For that function, I used a Kindle.
My biggest complaint with the iPad was it was just too big and too heavy, especially for reading. I know, this would be a laughable complaint just a few short years ago. But compared to a book, it was uncomfortable.
However, with the announcement of the iPad Mini, I decided to give it another go.
The scratch that still itches for me is my workflow for taking notes in face-to-face meetings. Hauling out my laptop feels too intrusive. Writing in a Moleskine or EcoSystem notebook and then scanning the pages is too much work.
I chose the black, 64GB, Wi-Fi + cellular iPad Mini. It arrived at my home a day earlier than Apple promised, which was a nice surprise. The packaging (as usual) made for a great first impression.
There were three attributes that stood out immediately:
- The Size. The size just feels right—a little bit wider and a bit shorter than a Moleskine notebook. At 10.7 oz, it’s more than three ounces lighter than Platform, my most recent book. It’s less than half the weight of the my iPad 3.
- The Speed. The speed of the Mini is comparable to the iPad 2 and 3. It seems plenty zippy to me. Applications load quickly, and I have not experienced any lag, other than a slight delay when opening apps.
- The Screen. If you are used to the retina display of say, the iPhone 5, or the iPad 3, you will notice a difference. But if you are comfortable with the screen of a newer model MacBook Air (not retina), it is comparable. The colors are vivid and bright.
Overall, the machine is beautiful. I immediately took to it.
I have been consistently getting ten hours of battery life per charge—the same as my iPad 3. Unfortunately, Apple changed the power connector to the the Lightning model used with the iPhone 5. I already had several of the 30-pin connectors, which I couldn’t use.
However, I appreciated the fact that I had immediate access to more than 275,000 iPad apps. This ensured I had zero learning curve. All my favorite apps were available on the Mini.
In fact, when I signed into my iCloud account, all my apps were downloaded to the Mini. I soon felt right at home. In addition, whenever I download a new app, it is downloaded on my Mini and my iPad 3. This is a preference setting you can turn on or off.
Though I don’t use them regularly, the Mini also has two cameras. The front-facing FaceTime HD camera sports 1.2 MP photos, 720p HD video, face detection, and FaceTime calling over Wi-Fi. The back-facing iSight camera creates 5MP photos and has auto-focus, face-detection, and a 2.4 aperture.
So the big question was whether or not I would actually use the Mini.
This brings me back to where I started. I am now reading all my books on the Mini. I have ditched my Kindle and haven’t looked back. (I am, however, using the Kindle app on the Mini.)
I am also taking the Mini whenever I leave my office or home to run errands. I use it while standing in line, waiting at the doctor’s office, or sitting at a restaurant. Cellular Internet access makes this remarkably convenient and surprisingly fast.
Best of all, I am using the Mini in meetings to take hand-written notes. I am really impressed with how far the note-taking apps have come since I last evaluated them. I downloaded all the major ones and tested them.
I’ve settled (for now) on the Moleskine Journal app and the Bamboo stylus. With it, I can export my notes to Evernote and the text is even searchable, though that takes about 24 hours to be processed through Evernote’s servers.
Does Apple have room for improvement? Certainly.
I really wish they had included a retina display. This obviously wasn’t a technological challenge, since they are already using this display on smaller devices (the iPhone 5) and larger ones (the iPad 3 and 4). Undoubtedly, Apple choose to forgo retina to keep the price point down and make the Mini more competitive.
But other than that, I am pleased with my purchase. The Mini has become an important part of my workflow and made me more productive. This is what the iPad should have always been.