Friday, 22 November 2013

Was it worth waiting for?


Finally, after many months of waiting, I put my hands on the iPad Mini I was waiting for such a long time. Waiting, because I considered a Retina display mandatory (and I do apologise for adopting Apple’s marketing language). So, given all the buildup, what do I make of this new toy?

Since I am who I am, I will start with the negative. And the negatives started with the acquisition of said iPad, which at first I tried to order online through Apple. That turned out to be quite horrific: I tried to order the iPad and have it delivered to an Apple shop, as I read I could do, but was unable to find the option. Then I called Apple to complain, informing them my problem is with their courier services and my inability to dedicate a working day to the pleasures of said courier. So, what did Apple do? They compensated me with a free cover. Only that this cover, too, was to be delivered via courier and require my mandatory presence.
So I cancelled my order and called an Apple shop to ask how I can get an iPad delivered there. After several calls (!) I found this link that worked some times and didn’t some other times. But eventually I got it to work and I got my iPad. I even got that compensation cover, which – despite all the notes about mandatory presence and the need to sign things – was just left at work’s reception. Bad form, Apple.
Having the iPad in my hands made what is by far its worst aspect clearer: the price. This new iPad Mini is exuberantly expensive [yet this idiot went ahead and bought one].
The next thing I can tell you about this new iPad model is to do with its screen. Sure, it’s sharp and all, but being a heavy iPad [3] user already it was also obvious the Mini's picture is not on par with that of its bigger brothers and sisters. In other words, things look dull. I’m rather surprised it took the likes of Ars Technica almost a week to report on this deficiency, given its glaring presence.
Last in this list of negatives, but not least, I would like to condemn Amaysim. This otherwise brilliant mobile provider will not allow iPad users to use its 3G connection (Amaysim does not have 4G) for tethering purposes. I’m quite disappointed there, as I had plans on using my new iPad as a wifi hotspot: while nowadays any smartphone will act as a wifi hotspot, tethering butchers their batteries faster than one can tweet “Jack Robinson” over their wifi. An iPad, on the other hand, sports a much more substantial battery. Bad form, Amaysim.


OK, so now for the positives.
And the positives are simple: this iPad Mini is exactly what I have been looking for!
It is a brilliant tool for work, no doubt about it. Coupled with a good Bluetooth keyboard and some fine software (I will warmly recommend NoteSuite), it does everything I need and does it extremely well. Note taking is a pleasure: not only can I type stuff in, I can also add sketches, photos, audio and video. And it’s all maintained for me in one place, backed up, sorted, searchable and easily retrievable. Add to that the iPad Mini’s ultra portability, and you’d be right to question the need for a work desktop/laptop.
I will expand a bit on the matter of the keyboard. My keyboard of choice is the Zagg Mini 9, which is supposed to act as a case as well as a keyboard. The keyboard part of it is more than fine, it is excellent, allowing for quick and easy typing as well as providing special keys that make playing with certain iPad features a pleasure. I’m talking keys for the home button, cutting and pasting, volume and playback control.
The Zagg's case side of things isn’t that great, though. In fact I find it abysmal. The iPad just won’t fit! I can push it in using more force than I would like to, but even that will only keep the iPad there until the next time I flap the case shut. Then, when it’s closed, it is not 100% closed; and it wasn’t long before I noticed how the slightly opening and closing lead has the iPad turning on and off at an alarming rate. A rate that, surely, does not do my iPad much good.
I looked around for other keyboards but was unable to find one that does better keyboarding without taking me further towards bankruptcy than Apple already did. So I implemented some high tech and used an elastic band to keep the case shut while moving about. Then, however, I received the Apple compensation case, which turned out to be quite good; so now I just carry the Zagg separately and balance the Apple covered iPad on it for typing. Sounds awkward but it works well enough, as the photo shows.

So there you have it. The new iPad Mini has its issues, but it is also a complete game changer for work. As much as it already was a game changer for media consumption.
If you ask me, the real question to ask is whether to get the Mini or go for the larger but now of similar form iPad Air. The latter is something special, as special as the Mini should have been in the first place; I suspect it would be a better choice for most people.

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