Test Run: iPad Mini vs iPad Air

ipad mini vs ipad airThe one technology purchase I regret is my iPad Mini. I wanted something lighter than my aging iPad 2; the iPad Air was not out yet, and I thought the Mini, with its ebook reader-sized screen, was the one for me. Now that the Air is out—roughly the same weight, but with a proper-sized screen—I have pondered selling the lot of it and upgrading to the iPad Air.

But the price! That sucker is expensive! So I figured I would truck along with what I had and delay the decision as long as possible. And that is still my plan. But I got a lesson today in using the iPad Mini as a laptop replacement, and it’s shown me that as an ebook reader, it’s fine. But as a laptop replacement, I don’t like it that much.

What happened was, I had planned to stay home this morning and work off my laptop, so I didn’t fuss about charging my full-size iPad overnight. And then this morning, during March break when people like me would be home, they decided to test our building’s smoke alarms, one apartment at a time. After ten minutes of intermittent alarms jolting me out of my thoughts, I grabbed my Mini—the only charged on-the-go option—and my full-sized Bluetooth keyboard and made for the Starbucks.

I had no problems pairing the Mini with my keyboard and using it successfully with all my usual apps. And, thanks to iCloud and Google Docs, I had everything just where I wanted it and could pick up on several projects with nary a pause.

But, to my disappointment, I found that the iPad Mini really does have a horrifically small screen for doing actual work. I am typing on it now, and squinting after every line. It’s just not big enough.

My verdict? If I didn’t use my iPad for actual work—if all I wanted was to read and play games, or even to run my music files for my classes—the Mini would be great. It’s way cheaper, tiny and cute and portable. I can hold it in my hands without getting the wrist issues I had with my iPad 2. But if you want to do serious work on it, such as long-form writing, the bigger screen of a full-sized device is the better choice. And, since the Air is so light, I should be able to hold it like the Mini without the wrist issues of the iPad 2. I guess I’ll be saving up for it!

4 Comments on Test Run: iPad Mini vs iPad Air

  1. Take your gadgets to futureshop and get credit for them reducing the overall cost of the iPad Air. You won’t regret it. Cheers.

  2. I’m glad you did this, Joanna. I’ve been tempted by the Mini’s size, but I’d been worried that the screen would be too small for work. I rely on my iPad when I’m on the go, and I think you just saved me a bundle.

  3. Roland Dobbins // March 14, 2014 at 12:52 am //

    Speak for yourself. I use the iPad Mini with the Zagg keyboard cover as a laptop replacement when I travel, and it works *extremely* well for me.

    If you’re squinting at the screen, the problem is with your eyes, not with the iPad Mini.

    I’ve been on the road with the iPad Mini/Zagg combo for as much as two weeks at a time, doing ‘serious work’ on it, and it works brilliantly for me.

    @Juli Monroe – these kinds of things are subjective. You should try a Mini – especially the new one with the Retina display – in an Apple store in order to determine if it will work for you. I’m still on the non-Retina Mini as I’m waiting for the Zagg keyboard cover to be updated for the additional thickness of the newer model, and it works great for me as laptop replacement.

  4. @Roland, my eyes are old enough now that I’m pretty sure I’ll have the same experience. Every time I go into an Apple store or Best Buy, I try out the Mini, and, while it’s close, I’ve been pretty sure it wasn’t quite big enough for me. I’m hardly at the decision point yet, though. My iPad 4 is going strong and should continue to do so for some time still.

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