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!

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"I’m a journalist, a teacher and an e-book fiend. I work as a French teacher at a K-3 private school. I use drama, music, puppets, props and all manner of tech in my job, and I love it. I enjoy moving between all the classes and having a relationship with each child in the school. Kids are hilarious, and I enjoy watching them grow and learn. My current device of choice for reading is my Amazon Kindle Touch, but I have owned or used devices by Sony, Kobo, Aluratek and others. I also read on my tablet devices using the Kindle app, and I enjoy synching between them, so that I’m always up to date no matter where I am or what I have with me."


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

    • @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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