Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

Which iPad?

30 October 2013

Been meaning to write this for a while…. Dan Frommer talks about his changing use of an iPad after acquiring an iPad Mini.
John Gruber says in his iPad Air review:

There are so many millions of iPad users that no simple explanation can cover all use cases. But my take, since last year, has been that the full-size iPad is best seen as an alternative to a laptop, and the iPad Mini as a supplement to a laptop.

I thought I’d talk about my own evolution over the years, and talk about them in a larger context, going back to when I got my first iPad in 2010.
I’ve had an original iPad (wifi), an original iPad (3G) with an engraved autograph by Steve Jobs, and replaced it last year with a The New iPad, aka iPad 3, retina screen, 32 gigs, LTE. Over the years, I’ve had an original iPhone, an iPhone 3GS, a 4, 4S, and just acquired a 5 after my 4S was stolen.
I was given an iPad Mini last Christmas. Thank you Mr. Federighi.
Just like when I got my first iPad, I wasn’t sure how the new member of the family would fit in. Most of my coworkers used only one iPad. When I brought both iPads to meetings, they sometimes teased me about it.
I loved, loved, loved retina on my iPad. When I first got a retina device, I said, “Wow, it’s like getting a new pair of glasses.” And it is.
Despite the lack of a retina screen, I prefer using my iPad Mini for book reading — and I’m an avid book reader. Having an iPad Mini quintupled the rate at which I read books, which surprised me. Having an iPad at all tripled the rate at which I read books. Partly that’s just due to tired eyes: I prefer to read at night before I go to sleep, and I prefer to read with my glasses off. Over time, that meant I found larger text easier. Since print books hadn’t changed, that meant I was reading fewer and fewer. Not a good place for someone who writes.
Speaking of writing, I prefer to write on the full-sized iPad. I love the retina screen. I love my external Logitech keyboard for it. I like the form factor. It feels writing-sized. It reminds me of a cool little battery-operated typewriter I used to have that had a thermal print head and would store about a dozen sheets of paper in its lid.
Catch is, once I started using the iPad Mini a lot, my usage of the full-sized iPad dropped like a rock. I’d either reach for my laptop (which hardly went anywhere any more) or the iPad Mini. Honestly, I haven’t opened my iPad in days, and that’s typical for me now.
I prefer to watch videos on the iPad, especially with the retina screen. Catch is, I’m not doing that as much as I was before I got the iPad Mini.
Additionally, my iPad has LTE, but my iPad Mini is wifi only. For that reason alone, I haven’t been willing to give up my iPad — it’s my backup cellular device when I’m traveling, which was critical when my iPhone was stolen in July.
So consider the changes that the iPad Air and the iPad Mini Retina offer: I can get the same retina niceness, the same screen resolution — in a form factor I find more convenient.
Now consider that I switched from a 15″ MacBook Pro (weighing 5.6 pounds) to a 13″ MacBook Air last month (weighing 2.5 pounds). That weight and size difference? It’s huge. So you might think I’d want to keep the larger iPad form factor.
I really had to think about it, though.
As Gruber points out in his review, the iPad Air is the better device for those whose primary mobile device is an iPad rather than a laptop. I use a laptop as my only computer.
What matters most to me is: which device do I actually reach for? I keep both of them nearby when I sleep, but it’s almost always the Mini I reach for in the morning to check my email and Twitter. Unless I’m using a book as a reference while programming, I’ll use the Mini for reading. Otherwise, the size of the full-size iPad is helpful.
As soon as the new iPad Mini comes out, I’m selling both of my current iPads and getting a new iPad Mini.
I was so sure Gruber was wrong when he said, “Both the 11-inch Air and full-size iPad 3/4 make more sense to me as devices for people who only want to carry one portable computer. But if I’m going to carry both, I think it makes more sense to get a bigger MacBook and the smaller iPad Mini.”
However, my own usage patterns have shown one thing: that’s exactly what happened.

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