I’ve been using an iPad mini with Retina display for almost six months now. The Mini itself is old news, but I wanted to write down some notes from using it.
I upgraded from a first-generation iPad and a third-generation Kindle. Not surprisingly, the Mini blows away the original iPad in every way. I think it’s actually the speed that I notice most. I had never really liked using the iPad because it seemed so inefficient compared with my Mac. In retrospect, I don’t think I appreciated how much this was due to the (lack of) processor speed and RAM, rather than inherent limitations of the touch interface (though those certainly still exist).
For basic reading, the Kindle’s low-resolution E Ink screen is easier on the eyes than the Retina display. But it’s a tradeoff I’m willing to make because the iPad is so much faster and more versatile. Screen aside, the Kindle iOS app is nicer than the Kindle’s own software. I used to read Instapaper on my Kindle, but that feature stopped working for me, and of course the app makes it easier to read articles out of order.
Others have reported problems with the iPad mini’s color gamut. The screen may not be as nice as the iPad Air’s, but the colors look great to me. What I notice more is that when the room is dark, and I’m looking at a dark background, I can see that the backlight is uneven. I see the image retention problem, but it goes away after a few seconds. It’s nowhere near as bad as on the MacBook Pro.
I have a smart cover, but I’m not very happy with it. It’s unstable when folded back and makes the iPad even thicker. But if I remove the cover, there often isn’t a good place to put it. The cover does work OK as a stand, and it’s good for wiping fingerprints off. I like the STM Jacket D7 Padded Case. It’s small enough for protecting the iPad within a larger bag and also works standalone.
It’s easier to type on the iPad mini than on a full-size iPad, but I still dread it. I find myself straining to remember my shortish, random Web passwords to avoid having to type my long master password for 1Password. Touch ID can’t come soon enough.
The worst part of the iPad mini is holding it. It’s decidedly heavier than the first-generation iPad mini, not to mention a Kindle. And it just doesn’t feel as nice in the hand. I still find it unnatural to hold it with my fingers over the edge of the screen, and sometimes this triggers unintentional touches. I’m not convinced that having the full iPad experience is worth this size and weight. I would rather have something in the 6–7″ range that’s optimized for reading. But I suspect that we’ll instead see a 5-5.5″ tweener iPhone.
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