iPadMini4-rfb-2012ipadmini-4G-white_AV2Last year I switched from an iPad 4 to an iPad mini 4 and wrote about my new tablet as a great writing device. I still feel that way. What I hadn’t anticipated is that it would become the perfect e-reader as well.

I’ve used many readers, starting with a Handspring Visor (anyone remember those?) back in the 90s. I’ve read on my phone, on various tablets and on E Ink readers like my current Kindle Paperwhite. Something has always been missing. Phones aren’t quite big enough, especially as my eyes age. My previous iPads were just a bit too big to curl up with on the couch. Nooks and my Kindle Fire had issues. E Ink devices can’t display comics well, and they don’t support Scribd, still my favorite e-book subscription service.

Then along came the Mini, which does everything.

marvin-on-iPadIt’s the perfect size for me. I can curl up and hold it comfortably everywhere: bed, couch, chair, dining room table or car. It’s small enough to fit in a shoulder bag and light enough that it doesn’t weigh me down. The screen is amazing, subtly better than my old iPad. It’s even readable in direct sunlight, which was a huge surprise. I bought an indulgent leather case from Sena, which makes it a joy to hold.

I do most of my reading in the Marvin app (screen shot), about which I wrote extensively as editor of TeleRead. It has enough options to satisfy almost any e-book reader:

  • Extensive formatting controls
  • The ability to show/hide reading progress
  • A timer to remind you to go to bed–I use this one all the time
  • 1 tap switch between color themes–I alternate between sepia, light gray and cream on dark gray
  • Lots of library management options

And that’s just the beginning. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend giving it a look. Unfortunately, it’s iOS only. Also, it only works with DRM-free books.

Looks like Steve Rogers should have bought an iPad.

Now that I have upgraded to an iPhone 6S+, the Marvin sync feature comes in handy. While I don’t like reading on even a large-screen smartphone for long periods, the 6S+ is the ideal on-the-go e-reader. Marvin’s sync feature works flawlessly, allowing me to pick up and leave off, just as if I were using the Kindle app.

However, as I indicated earlier, I also read in Scribd and purchase the occasional comic to read in Comixology. Because of the guided panel view in Comixology, the smaller screen size of the Mini isn’t an issue. Scribd, of course, works well on the iPad, so, for the first time, I can do all my reading on one device. I realize some people don’t mind switching devices, but except for the brief phone sessions, I prefer to have one go-to device.

I haven’t abandoned my Paperwhite. It’s still going to be the camping reader. Some of the places we camp don’t have power, and a Kindle is easier to keep charged under those conditions. Other than camping, though, my other devices are feeling kind of abandoned right now.

“What about cost?” you ask. Yes, Apple devices are expensive. For me, what I realized after I purchased the Mini is that I had been spending a decent amount of money on other devices trying to find the one that worked for me. If I had just bought the original Mini, I would have saved a lot of money. On the other hand, experimentation showed me exactly what I wanted from my tablet, so I can’t say the money was wasted. My experience with Apple products is that they are worth the price, but my priorities might be different from yours. If you are leaning in that direction and need the push, go for it. If you’re a happy Fire or Android user, stick with what works for you.

Who knows? A few months from now I might find the next perfect device, but right now, my Mini is the one.

(The above first appeared in Warlock Writer and is reproduced with permission.)


  1. I feel that way about my Nexus 7 16GB tablet, $160.00, 323 ppi pixel density screen. Versus IPad Mini 16GB tablet, $359.00, 324 ppi pixel density screen. Unlike the IPad Mini, on my Nexus 7, I am able to purchase e-book straight from my Kindle, Kobo or Nook apps. Nexus 7 is more flexible and plays nicer with others compared to the IPad Mini.

  2. Hence why I said, “If you’re a happy Fire or Android user, stick with what works for you.” The Nexus 7 is an excellent device. Being able to buy from the various apps isn’t an important feature for me because I just import everything into Marvin. If that’s a killer feature for you, or someone else, then Android is the better platform.

  3. What a joy to visit Teleread and see your name once again on a article, Juli.

    I remember reading your first post at warlockwriter.com on using the iPad mini 4 as a writing device, and you told me about the AmazonBasics Keyboard. I’m really encouraged to see that you give the iPad mini 4 such high marks for reading as well; especially being able to use it in direct sunlight—I can take it with me when I drive down to the port and sit and watch the birds and eat my lunch and now read. I’ve been debating about buying one, but now I’m going to indulge and buy myself a present. Thanks for the follow-up report.

  4. @MrsMac. Thank you! Definitely indulge yourself. You will love the Mini. I recommend splurging for upgraded memory. I got 64GB, and it’s nice to not worry about space. My husband went for 128 on his Air 2, which I thought was a bit excessive, but he’s happy with it.

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