For as much as I love pen and paper, I am also a lover of gadgets and Apple has pretty much had my heart in its back pocket since the 80s. When Apple finally annonced the iPad Mini, I was on the fence. The starting price of $329 is likely to be a stopping point for many people. But I have invested in dozens of iOS apps, I have used the iTunes store for years and I’m fairly invested in the Apple ecosystem. But I was still torn… I’ve wanted a good multi-purpose ereader but wondered if I could “get by” with a Kindle HD or the new Nook HD with the considerably smaller price tag.
On Thursday night, I went to bed still debating whether or not the iPad Mini was a good investment or not. Then I woke up early on Friday and decided I’d go down to the Apple store and see if it was worth the hullaballoo.
There was not nearly the line at the Apple store at 8 AM that I thought there would be. After a ten minute wait, I was handed a “ticket” to purchase whichever iPad Mini I would like. I chose the black model 64gb. I’m tired of having to scrounge for space and since this is the wifi only model, I’d rather have more downloaded content available. If I was able to wait for the 4G LTE model, then a small flash drive would be acceptable. I made my purchase and ten minutes later, I was back in my car on the way to work — early even.
Thanks to iCloud, all I needed was a wifi connection to sync my new iPad Mini with the content that lived on the iPad I already own. The iCloud sync even replaced the wallpapers and moved all the apps into the exact same order as iPad. Wow. Its the automagical thing that Apple does when you update your desktop or laptop and all the content just gets moved to the new machine without the owner having to do anything. Its one of the things I love about Apple.
Once I got going, I was able to quickly overlook the lack of HD screen which is really the only downside of this device. Its easy to hold and easy to use to do whatever it is you want to do. I’ve already read a book and a half, read an issue of The New Yorker, gotten pummeled by friend in Scrabble and Letterpress, paid bills, checked email, caught up on Twitter and just got on with it…”it” being the daily grind of the digerati, as it were.
My case for the iPad Mini as an ereader is that I can use the Nook app, the Kindle app, library-lending apps, iBooks store and dozens of other options to get my book content. I can find the best price or the biggest selection without having to jailbreak my device. As for all the other apps and things I can do with the iPad Mini versus the other 7″ tablets, its hard to make a case. The Apple iTunes store has ALL THE APPS. Other platforms are adding apps all the time but the iOS has already become an established platform.
I photographed the new iPad Mini with my first generation Nook e-ink tablet for size comparison. The Nook is a smidgen wider but otherwise they are virtually the same size. The iPad Mini is thinner and lighter. Technology sure has come a long way in a the two-ish years since I got the Nook.
The size of the iPad Mini is also comparable to a large Moleskine Cahier — the A5-ish size. It fits easily under my arm on the way to a meeting without looking too ostentatious. I added my Targus stylus to test some drawing and writing apps and will report back if anyone is curious. So far, I have not run into any issues typing or touch-highlighting text. Thumb typing works well in portrait mode while setting the device down to type in landscape gives more space and a more traditional Qwerty typing style. I’m still faster on an actual keyboard but I can bang out an email, tweet or text messages more easily on the iPad Mini than on my phone.
So, my advice is, if you can afford the iPad Mini and have been waffling about the smaller tablets, just buy it. Buy once, cry once. If you can wait the alleged six month to a year for an iPad Mini HD (which everyone assumes will be coming), then do that as the screen is the only thing that holds the iPad Mini back from being utterly perfect.