Three weeks ago I posted my reasons why I didn’t want an iPad mini, and today I’m sitting here with one in my hands anyways. So, what happened?
My main reason for not wanting an iPad mini is the lack of a way to compensate for the reduced screen real-estate for hand writing use. That specific use for the iPad is something I won’t move away from, so it’s inherently a deal breaker. That is also why I didn’t get an iPad mini to replace my iPad 2, I got one to replace my Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus. Putting a custom Jelly Bean based ROM on my Galaxy Tab was the final attempt to make the thing useful again, and it failed miserably. It’s a great device that I still believe is vastly superior to the Nexus 7, but Android on tablets is simply dead to me. I cannot spend another year waiting for software to come out on a platform that has been promising to catch up to iOS for years. I love my Android phone, I do things on it that makes me love Android, but it’s less than useful for the things I use my iPad: Studying to become a teacher, which includes being both a teacher and a student. The Android third party software market has had years to get a grip on things, and it’s still worthless in certain situations. Good bye, have a nice life. I’ll keep you on my phone where you are of actual use to me.
I got to play with an iPad mini at a store a couple of weeks back, and the weight surprised me. It’s hard to know exactly how much lighter a device feels just from seeing the weight comparison, and weight distribution also plays a major factor. The iPad mini is light enough that you can essentially hold it with your thumb and index finger, or balance it on your pinky while using the rest of the hand to support it. It’s an extremely one handed device, more because it’s light than because you can grip around it with one hand. That makes it the ideal reading device, especially for PDF files. Goodreader is gold on the iPad mini: The perfect PDF reader, fast like you wouldn’t believe, running on a 308 gram device. That combination to me is a bigger selling point than the high resolution screen on the iPad 3 and 4 will ever be.
While the iPad mini is otherwise very similar to my iPad 2 – it uses the same chip and screen resolution – it does come with a few upgrades up its sleeves. One of them is Bluetooth 4, which I don’t have any immediate use for, but might in the future. Another is the camera, which with its fairly capable 5 megapixel sensor and 1080p video recording capabilities is definitely a nice upgrade to the so-so camera on the Galaxy tab 7.0 Plus. I used the latter’s camera quite a lot, especially in situations where my phone needed to be in the picture, so that was actually a valid selling point for me. As for the Lightning connector, it was a major point against buying the iPad mini, since I can’t use my existing adapters with it.
So, to sum up, it essentially comes down to a combination of the apps I use and the size and form factor. My iPad 2 is still better suited for content creation, i.e. not taking or grading papers, but the iPad mini will stay with it as a more portable reading device. I might end up deciding one of them are redundant in the future, but I don’t know which one that will be just yet.
As for first impressions, they’re good. I’m loading up apps as we speak, as my first priority was to set up and sync Goodreader with Dropbox. I like the screen, as the smaller size makes the DPI a lot better than on my iPad 2. I’m not among those who think the iPad mini is a bargain bin parts device, and I definitely don’t wish it had a high resolution display. You cannot put such a display into a device without making compromises. The iPad 3 and 4 are heavier and thicker than the iPad 2, take longer to charge because of the 42.5Wh battery, and still don’t last as long. Why on Earth would I wish that sort of compromise on a device that I bought specifically for the size and weight?
I also like having a ~7 inch device that has a Smart Cover. By God is that Smart Cover overpriced, and I’m not overly happy about the design either, but it’s a Smart Cover. To be frank, I freaking love that invention. It protects the screen without adding much bulk, functions as a stand, and even works as a sort of handle – both on the iPad 2 and iPad mini.
As for what I don’t like, let’s start with iOS 6. Where the heck is YouTube? Since I’m running jailbroken iOS 5.0.1 on my iPad 2, I didn’t even know that there’s no iPad app available for YouTube in that disaster of an OS version. Siri also isn’t exactly impressive compared to my self built Nelly on my phone, but that was no surprise. Other than that, my main gripe with iOS 6 is the lack of a jailbreak. There are so many things I miss, from small things like having a black keyboard, to WiFi unlock, pattern unlock screen, mouse support, more icons on the desktop, and so on. I’m not updating this thing, ever, as I want jailbreak on it as quickly as possible.
I frankly hate giving Apple money, because I think the company is the incarnation of evil, but then again Google isn’t exactly my favorite company either. The reason why I buy devices with either OS is the third party software that’s available, and whatever the reason is for so many apps missing on Android, the conclusion is the same: I need iOS.