I haven’t owned any of the previous iPads. I’ve owned an iPhone ever since the first one came out. I’ve had a Macbook for years before that. There just didn’t seem to be a need, I figured if I already owned both separate Apple devices, to use an iPad. I couldn’t imagine how I would actually want to use it. Then, this past Christmas, my mother offered to buy me an iPad mini and I did not protest.
Before I share some of the ways that I’ve been using it, I’d like to quickly address three issues that you might have questions about.
Size: Before I purchased the Mini, I wanted to make sure that it would be the right size. I read reviews, went to the Apple store multiple times and handled the full-size iPad and the Mini. I tried to imagine myself doing certain tasks with the full-size iPad, but when I compared it to the Mini, it was just about over. It’s so light compared to the full-size iPad. It feels really good in the hand. You can hold it in one hand, in fact, which can’t really be said for a regular iPad for any extended period of time.
Speed: I haven’t noticed any speed issues at all. I never owned the previous iPad, so this one seems very zippy and fast.
Screen: This is the only feature that I wish was upgraded. I’m sure there will be a Retina screen in the next version, but the screen that it currently has is not bad at all. It’s quite sharp and crisp. When I pick it up to use it, I actually never think about the screen. It’s not a distraction either way. So would it be nice to have a Retina screen on there? Of course. Is it really an issue, though? Not at all.
I’ve had three months to use the Mini, so I feel that I’m in a pretty good place to give a review. Here, then, are the ways that I’ve been using the Mini:
1. For public speaking. I’m not going to say that I’m fully transitioned into this, but I’ve tried it a few times. Here’s what I do. I’ll write my sermon or devotional talk that I’m going to give. Once I’m finished I’ll open up another document, copy the contents into that document, and increase the font size to 16. I’ll then email myself a PDF of that document. When I check the email on my iPad, I click and hold my finger on the document, and select “Open in iBooks.”
Because the document is in size 16 font, I can easily read it on my iPad screen without any issues. Because it’s a PDF in iBooks, I can flick to turn the page instead of having to scroll down to find where I am. Does it matter how a page is advanced? I believe there is a distinct advantage in turning a page versus scrolling down a page. You see, most people have a strong visual memory–that is, they’re able to remember the location of objects on a page as a mental image. Having a page to turn helps to ground that memory so that you can remember where something is on that page.
I’ll often highlight or bold certain things that I want to stand out before I send it to myself as a PDF. The only disadvantage of using it for public speaking is that you cannot easily edit something right before or after you’ve spoken. For example, I spoke at both services at Pioneer Memorial Church this past weekend and I didn’t use the iPad. Between both services I always debrief with someone to see how I can make the second round clearer and more effective. Sure enough, I ended up crossing out a few sentences and adding in one or two, and highlighting other things that I wanted to emphasize. At the moment, I suppose I’m just not sure how to do that on the iPad.
By the way, if someone has the iPad on a stand of some sort, then I suppose that the size doesn’t really matter. But if someone is holding it in their hands, the size will make a big difference.
2. To take notes in meetings. I’m a notes guy. I’ve used a Moleskine notebook for the last few years and I love it. There are many benefits to taking notes, some of which I outline here, but taking notes on a laptop in a meeting is just plain rude, in my humble opinion. That’s why I’ve always relied on a notebook instead. I’m happy to announce that since getting the Mini, I’ve retired my Moleskine notebook.
How do I take notes on the iPad? The first thing that’s necessary to take notes is a good notes app. I’ve experimented with five different apps: Bamboo Paper, Moleskine, Noteshelf, Penultimate, & Paper. Which one wins? Penultimate. I really like that, at a glance, you can see all the pages of notes that you’ve taken. By the way, Evernote recently bought out this app, so this goes a long way to showing which one they think is most promising. Since Evernote bought it out, they’ve also added an auto sync to Evernote, which is very nice.
One feature that I really wish Penultimate had, though, is better wrist guard protection so that your hand doesn’t unintentionally make scribbles on the page as you’re writing. The Moleskine app offers a perfect solution to this: there’s a little translucent screen that you can pull up from the bottom that acts as a wrist guard. Penultimate, if you’re listening, please add this feature.
To take notes on an iPad you also need a good stylus. Sorry, Apple, your finger just won’t do the trick for that.
After reading reviews for a good stylus, I ended up going with the Wacom Bamboo Stylus. It feels good and solid in the hand, but I’m not happy with the nib of the pen. It’s squishy and not that accurate. I’d prefer something with a finer nib to take more accurate notes.
3. Reading. In this post, I detailed why I prefer reading books on a Kindle device. The only problem I had with the Kindle, was that you had to be in really good light to be able to read well. Reading on a backlight screen like the iPad is not ideal, but I’ve found that it’s not really a big issue, either.
4. FaceTime video chats. The Mini has an HD camera on the front, so FaceTime chats look really crisp and beautiful. Because of the size, I can also hold the iPad with one hand if I want to pan the camera.
5. As a portable stereo. I’ll often listen to NPR News in the morning while I’m getting dressed, and I’m able to grab the iPad and take it with me to a different room if I have to. The speakers could be a tad louder, but they’re loud enough.
6. To set appointments. If I’m in a meeting with someone, and I’m away from my desk, it’s much easier to see my schedule on my iPad than my iPhone. And I don’t really want to pull my laptop out to set an appointment. It’s quick and easy with the iPad.
7. Email/Facebook/ Twitter. I find that when I come home at the end of the day, I don’t really want to look at a computer screen anymore. This is where the iPad is really nice. I can sit on the couch and check any emails. I can scan Facebook or Twitter or anything else on the web. It’s the perfect device for web surfing on a couch.
How I’m Not Using It:
1. For extended work. If I need to get serious work done, I’ll obviously jump on my Macbook Pro.
2. To listen to my music. My music is on my iPhone and I haven’t felt a need to transfer any to the iPad.
3. To take pictures. Have you ever been to a concert or a museum and you see people holding their iPads in the air to take a picture? That will never be me. It covers people’s view and I find it annoying. I’ll use my iPhone if I need to take a quick picture.
Overall, I’m extremely happy with the iPad Mini. When the Retina iPad comes out I may upgrade, but I don’t see any reason to ever use a full-size iPad.
So what about you? Do you have an iPad or an iPad Mini? How are you using it? (To leave a comment click here)