All iPads Is the iPad mini right for me?

Discussion in 'iPad' started by Essenar, Jan 3, 2013.

  1. Essenar macrumors 6502a

    Oct 24, 2008
    Who I am:
    Fifth year engineering student studying mechanical engineering.
    Also a bit of a tech guy, I love playing games, love watching movies and videos and I'm constantly on the go.
    My textbooks weigh about 450 pounds each and I'm sick of it. Any book not available in Ebook format, I would promptly scan and make it so.
    I don't have fairly large hands but i can single hand the iPad Mini easily.
    I'm fairly Google oriented. I use Gmail for everything and Google Voice for texting/VOIP calls (I managed to get a Sipgate account/phone number before they ran out).

    What I would use it for:
    Reading ebooks/PDF's
    Watching videos on Youtube and possibly HBO2Go, downloaded movies and lecture videos or podcasts
    Playing the occasional casual game like Angry Birds, Draw Something and maybe an occasional FPS game like ShadowGun or NOVA2. I've never beaten any of those games on Android tablets so it wouldn't bother me much if the newer releases don't play on the iPad Mini with great graphics.
    I would write the occasional document. Nothing fancy but maybe taking notes in class, possibly hand written equations with a stylus because of the physics equations and such.
    I would definitely start reading comic books and novels on it.
    I would also want to track my budget/finances with it, have it linked to my bank account to show me my spending.
    I want to have information on it like my class schedule, class due dates so it pops up reminders here and there.
    I also wanna use it to play music when I'm at the gym running on the treadmill or hooked up to my car's auxiliary port.
    I have a 50GB Dropbox account and the majority of the time, I'll be on WiFi. So I also want to play music and download movies from my Dropbox, delete them after watching, etc.

    Now here's the caveats/concerns:
    WiFi or LTE? I have a T-Mobile SIM with 5GB of 4G data a month and I live in an area where T-Mobile already refarmed for AT&T's HSPA network so I would get the 'up to 20 down' speeds easily with an AT&T iPad Mini, but it's $130 more and puts it almost at iPad 4 range. However, it will come with built in GPS, I can straight substitute it for a phone and I'll have it with me 90% of the time I'm awake. (Having sex and taking showers is an exception, unless I'm needing the camera or music for some reason >.>) I also have Google Voice and a Sipgate phone number so using the right tools, I can use it for phone calls with my bluetooth headset.

    Also: I already own a 13.3" MacBook Pro Classic with 8GB of ram and an SSD on the way. The iPad isn't a 'poor man's MacBook' for me, but rather a complimentary device because reading books on my MacBook SUCKS and it's not that portable.

    But is this a tablet worth almost $460? I noticed the screen real estate is massive compared to the Nexus 7. Sure the Nexus 7 has a slightly higher resolution, but when you're reading books? Looking at web pages? Slight pixelation isn't going to change the fact that you have so much more screen size. It almost looks like a regular iPad, whereas the Nexus 7 looks like a big Android phone.

    I don't want to spend $600 on an iPad. I mean I could, but that means less partying, less nice clothes, less dates. I don't want to pinch my pennies that much. So the decision is more or less:
    iPad Mini WiFi 16GB + save the $130
    iPad Mini LTE AT&T 16GB + save the $40
    iPad 4 WiFi 16GB
  2. bobbysmith macrumors regular

    Nov 4, 2012
    Just be aware that the iPad mini is small and has a low screen resolution. The typical textbook is not readable in portrait mode without a lot of zooming and scrolling around (the low resolution makes small text is harder to read). It's better in landscape, but even then it's more scrolling than really comfortable. It's great for books you use as a reference and want to look something up in, but it can be straining to do any actual reading on it. I would seriously suggest an iPad 4 instead if possible, but then you have to deal with the higher price and increased weight.

    As for scanning textbooks, I don't know if you've actually tried doing that. Trying to read text that is actually a scanned image is not very pleasant, and using OCR to turn it into actual rendered text (like you find in an actual ebook) rarely produces great results.

    In essence the mini is a great companion to the textbook. Use the book when you're studying, and bring the iPad with you on the go to review things or to look up things during lectures.
  3. Jman13 macrumors 68000

    Aug 7, 2011
    Columbus, OH
    For textbooks, I'd want the iPad 4...for all other reading, the mini is simply more convenient due to the size. For instance, reading on the Kindle app is brilliant, and while some magazines require me to scroll around in Zinio, it too is overall fine, though if I were using it as a textbook replacement I wouldn't want to scroll to read my pages, so I'd rather have the full size iPad.

    Overall, I much prefer the mini form factor, and just love my mini, but it might be worth it to you if you really plan on using it for textbooks to look at the 4.
  4. WilliamLondon macrumors 68000


    Dec 8, 2006
    I'll chime in here as I'm someone that bought a mini to complement my studies. The programme I'm on currently is all about PDFs, journal articles, book chapters, and scans of books (some of which can be quite old). I read these PDFs on my mini all the time, and I don't have to scroll or zoom at all. GoodReader is a great app, and no matter whether you have the largest screen or the smallest, it allows you to crop out the white space automatically on every page, which maximises the viewing of text and that's what I use more often than any other feature. The screen really impressed me - at first I thought I'd have to go with one of the Android varieties, but when I held the mini and saw the display I was convinced this was more than adequate, it's great.

    Yes, the resolution is less than a retina, but it's the same as one of Apple's other current products, the iPad 2, which is still in production and for sale, and given the smaller screen dimensions, the pixel density is actually greater. Don't get me wrong, I'll happily upgrade to a retina if/when they produce one, but this product is not anything but a great device.

    The best thing about the mini is the form factor, I love it. I used to own a gen 1 iPad and although I loved that too, I always felt smaller would suit me better, and it does. I also have a Kindle (which I'll never give up - I love my Kindle) and that's what I normally read eBooks on (though sometimes I read eBooks on my mini either in the Kindle app or the iBooks app - just depends).

    As for taking notes on it, I bought a stylus (the Applydea) but it doesn't suit me well, I prefer taking hand written notes and transcribing them into Evernote (one of my favourite applications). I have a Dropbox account, and I also have a SugarSync account (though I don't really use SS since Dropbox isn't near the limit of space used). As I said GoodReader for PDF viewing (plus it's great - it allows you to connect directly to your Dropbox or SugarSync accounts, plus other server locations). I've not tried iAnnotate or PDF Expert both of which I've heard good things about. I did buy PDFpen and coupled that with PDFpen Pro on my Mac, but I hated both the iOS and OS X versions, so I use Skim on my Mac.

    I'm a game lover, my poor PS3 just sits there gathering dust now (though I'm itching to get a few of the new Ratchet & Clank games that have been released recently and that'll get me playing again I assume). I play games on my mini every day, it's the most perfect size to play games I think, maybe even better than my old PSP.

    I don't know what else to tell you, other than I'm thrilled with mine, it's one of the best devices I've ever had, I use it daily, it integrated very well with my studies and is a joy to use and own. Any questions ask, happy to answer.

    One more thing you may want to consider - a MiFi device. It's normally cheaper than the cellular option in the iPad, plus it acts as a hotspot for up to 5 devices, which can be handy if you've got a laptop or other WiFi devices you connect to the internet. I've gone that route in the past and been quite pleased with it.
  5. bobbysmith macrumors regular

    Nov 4, 2012
    I just don't see how that is possible.

    On my mini the text in the box at the top is <1 mm tall, the text at the bottom just over 1 mm. That is half the height of the text in the actual book and simply too small for the mini's low resolution screen. It looks horrible and is very straining to read. It would be small even with a retina screen, but at least then the text would be clear.

    Uh, so? How is that relevant at all?
  6. batting1000 macrumors 604

    Sep 4, 2011
    Maybe for you. I can read the text in that image just fine. I Guess it just depends on your vision. I suggest the OP goes to a store to try out both the 4th-gen and mini and look at various text sizes and see which one he likes best overall. I do, however, highly recommend GoodReader for iPad (and iPhone) as WilliamLondon mentioned.
  7. iPagan macrumors regular

    May 31, 2010
    PDF Expert=Best PDF App

    I used to read PDF books on my iPad 1, not any more. Too small. Now I read on my 2010 13" MBP. Will upgrade to Retina, when it becomes affordable.

    A better PDF app than Goodreader: PDF Expert.

    $10. Not cheap. But way better!
  8. darngooddesign, Jan 3, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2013

    darngooddesign macrumors G3

    Jul 4, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    If you use VOIP then the LTE version is a must, unless you can wait until you are around Wifi for calls. Now while the LTE Mini may be close to iPad 4 territory, it is not close to LTE iPad 4 territory.
  9. bobbysmith macrumors regular

    Nov 4, 2012
    The image is to show how the mini renders the text. On the iPad it is less than 1 mm tall. It does not look good, and while pretty much any human with normal vision could read it if they had to, that's not a very good measure of how suited the device is. Do you own a mini and use it for this? I do, every day. It's not good at it.
  10. batting1000 macrumors 604

    Sep 4, 2011
    I do own a mini and while I don't use it for textbooks and PDFs all day, the websites I go to on it have small text.
  11. WilliamLondon macrumors 68000


    Dec 8, 2006
    Well, I'm not sure how to help - I could actually read the text on that. It may not be the crispest of all possible screens and displays, but it's not unreadable. Also, apps like GoodReader allow you to crop all pages you're reading so the text area you want to read is maximised, that helps - there's nothing I hate worse than having a bunch of (or even a little) white space looking like a useless border when I'm reading.

    To contradict all the naysayers who will flock here and share "stories" about how the horrid resolution of the mini burned their retinas and caused them headaches and kicked all the neighbourhood puppies, and how there isn't a device on the market with worse resolution. It's good to remind people that the iPad 2 is still a product Apple sells, and the screen resolution is the same as that product when people come on here touting Apple is 100% retina and all other devices and displays are inferior.

    I wish iOS had demo or trial versions of products - I'd really like to try this product, and iAnnotate. I was burned with PDFpen (£10.49!!) and I'm loathe to spend again and not find it worthy or a lot better than Good Reader. I've got nothing against GR, just want to make sure I'm using the best app out there! Appreciate the recommendation.
  12. ritmomundo macrumors 68000


    Jan 12, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    I have a mini, and my recommendation based on your uses is to get the 4th gen iPad.
  13. Defender2010 macrumors 68030


    Jun 6, 2010
    Why don't you just purchase one, use it for a while and see if it suits you? If not, return it! I find these these threads post said it is impossible to read in portrait mode, this depends on ones sight. What you are asking is completely subjective.
  14. bova80 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 8, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    the only way to know is to go and try them out and see which you like better.

    it all comes down to if you like it or not, not how others feel about it.
  15. luqtotheman macrumors regular

    Jun 14, 2012
    Get an ipad 4 retina.

    In my PERSONAL OPINION, the iPad mini wouldn't suit you as well.
  16. rowspaxe macrumors 68000


    Jan 29, 2010
    So, this is my gripe with mini bashers--reading in portrait on a retina mini is going to cause strain as the type is too small--at any dpi. Even on the ipad, the type is only some fracrtion of true size--as the ipad smaller than an A4 page.

    I find reading pdfs on the mini in landscape a very acceptable compromise. I am also in agreement--however--with the poster who reads a lot of technical pdfs on his macbook. If your at a desk, it makes sense because you get to read 1:1 scale. However, for working away from the desk, either ipad is workable.

    The pdf annotation example provided here doesn't convince me--the script size is huge relative to the pdf. Capacitative technology for writing is too crude. IMO--the software implementations to get around this fact are too limiting.

    The real solution is to digitially read and write on an a light A4 size page device. But this may not ever be available, certainly not in the next 5 years
  17. bobbysmith macrumors regular

    Nov 4, 2012
    How am I "bashing" the mini? Is it your child or something? All the posts defending it and implying that retina would make no difference are absolute nonsense. It would improve the experience a lot, even though, like it says in the very post you quoted, the text would still be small.
  18. Internaut macrumors 6502a

    Text books: 4th gen iPad would be better but the Mini isn't unusable in this respect.

    LTE vs WiFi only: To save money, use your phone as a personal hotspot (if possible with your phone)?
  19. darngooddesign macrumors G3

    Jul 4, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    It's not Mini bashing to say that smaller, less clear type will cause more eyestrain than larger, clearer type.
  20. Essenar thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 24, 2008
    I'm trying to minimize the amount of devices I carry around. I suppose I could grab a cheap AT&T Android phone (No such thing as a cheap AT&T iPhone), root it, install WiFi tether and go that route, but it means fumbling around with devices.

    The appeal of the Mini LTE is that it's small enough to fit in my jacket pocket and with a bluetooth, can replace a phone using VOIP/Google Voice. If I move to a 10", what I gain in size/resolution, I lose in convenience and size.

    I feel like I'm leaning more toward an iPad 4 with a cheap phone because my primary use with this will be reviewing textbooks and it sounds like it's more of an 'aid' to a textbook, which means I'd end up carrying my book anyway.

    I'm gonna 'test drive' the iPad Mini LTE and see whether or not the screen size is sufficient for me. I have very good vision but it's corrected. Let me explain: my pupils dilate quite easily and I can see very well at night, when I have contacts on I can read signs and small text very far away. However, I don't want to have to squint. I want the reading to be easy on my eyes.

    So the question is:
    Can the iPad 4 replace my science based textbooks? Or will I end up using textbooks physically + the iPad either way? Because if I'm gonna end up using the textbooks either way, the iPad Mini LTE will serve my purpose far better due to the smaller form factor, LTE capabilities under $500.
  21. darngooddesign macrumors G3

    Jul 4, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    You're going to have to try each to see which fits your workflow better.

    Something else to bear in mind is that if you are handwriting notes in class, you will fit less information on each screen of the mini because while the mini is smaller, your handwriting isn't.
  22. rowspaxe macrumors 68000


    Jan 29, 2010
    You seem to be in agreement that reading pdfs in portrait on the mini would not be generally workable--regardless of resolution--as the type would be too small. So then the question is--how critical is retina if you are reading in landscape? And I would argue while it might be desirable, it is not critcal. This in the context of numerous posts asserting the mini is unusable because it does not allow reading pdfs and webpages in portrait mode, i.e., like the image posted in this thread
  23. teknikal90 macrumors 68030


    Jan 28, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    you can get all of your textbooks in PDF format?
    I use my ipad 4 to study. I don't see how you can use a mini to read a decent load of PDFs... I used my family's iPad 2 once when my retina iPad was being shipped and it wasn't pleasant to use for reading. 'Normal' sized fonts look fine (i.e. 12pts) but smaller fonts get distorted and on really small types you often have to 'guess' some letters, there aren't enough pixels to render them correctly. And this is on an iPad 2. I wouldn't imagine a screen shrinkage on the mini would do it any good.

    In saying all that however, the iPad (mini or 4) cannot replace my textbook just yet.It's a supplement to display my PDFs alongside my textbook. Being able to flick back between pages really quickly, sometimes view two pages at once on a real textbook are invaluable to me. the iPad is counter-productive in that way.

    The only benefit is portability.

    For now, I still think paper beats paperless systems.
  24. Essenar thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 24, 2008
    So I picked up an iPad 4. My justification:
    I had a textbook with me and I put the iPad Mini over the pages. Even with the white space cut out, the screen was smaller than the text alone of the book.

    I also figured that while the iPad Mini is powerful enough to deliver the full iPad experience, I will come across fewer limitations in the future in terms of future proofing.

    I do love the portability of the mini but man, the iPad 4 screen is gorgeous. The Retina MacBook Pro 13 didn't look that much better than the regular MBP and it definitely didn't have more power so I went with a cMBP but with the iPad, it's not just screen real estate, it's a better GPU, better processor, more ram and larger screen. For a measly $170 more plus tax. I figured later down the line if they refresh the iPad Mini, I can sell my iPad 4 and just buy it. If it's necessary.

    I appreciate the advice and I want to say, finally:
    I do not think the iPad Mini is a piece of garbage. I also think that, had I completely and irrevocably given up the desire to use textbooks on an iPad, the Mini would've won in every possible category for me due to the convenience of its size. It's only 1.8" smaller but much MUCH more portable. I fell in love with it, but I just loved the iPad 4 a lot more. The iPad Mini more or less told me, "Look at me, feel how light I am and I do everything that big guy behind me can do, and my screen isn't that much smaller." The iPad 4 just so happened to say, "I might be big, but I make up for it, trust me."
  25. iPagan macrumors regular

    May 31, 2010
    You are wrong there. If you had loaded a PDF doc onto a USB thumb drive and compared the rendition on a regular MBP and a retina MBP, you would have noticed the NIGHT AND DAY difference!!!!

    That was actually what I did in an Apple store here in SoCal last night.

    But the rMBP at this point is too expensive--to me at least. Plus, it's Version 1.0. I'll wait till the price drops to the sane level, and the hardware has matured a bit to jump on the bandwagon.

    I read a lot of PDF books, too. Some DJVU books as well. On my 2010 13" MBP now. Used to be on my Gen 1 iPad.

    From my experience, the combo of a regular size iPad and an MBP is a good one. If one fails you, you can always lean to the other one. It can't be beat!

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