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iPad Mini: My Initial Thoughts

If you look at the image below, originally featured on Amazon’s home page, you would think someone would have to be crazy to purchase an iPad mini. However, after the highly-enjoyable experience I’ve had with my full-size iPad, I was excited to give the latest offering from Apple a try.


Image Credit: C|NET

Maybe it’s a case of idolatry or maybe it’s yet another slick marketing plan by Apple, but I ran to my local retail store to purchase the Mini as soon as it was released. Below are my initial thoughts, beginning with the positive, then looking at the negatives. Finally, I’ll give some thoughts about some practical uses of the iPad Mini in the church.

Positives

It Looks Amazing

Is anyone really surprised that Apple has managed to create another aesthetically beautiful device? This one does not disappoint in the “looks” department.

Handy Size

This was the biggest selling point for me. I wanted a device that was similar in size to a Moleskine notebook that I could easily carry with me to meetings and such and not feel like I was carrying around a small computer. It certainly has exceeded expectations on this front.

Super Lightweight

Continuing on the previous thought, the mini is surprisingly light-weight. I picked it up and held it next to an old 7 inch Samsung Galaxy Tablet and it seems as light as a feather. This is great for me when I carry it in my bag with my laptop and all my other gear. The less strain on my back the better!

Lightning Connector

Apple’s decision to change the form factor of its charging cable has come with some controversy, but I love everything about the lightning connector. It’s all of the Apple goodness in a size that resembles a mini-USB charger.

Negatives

Size

I know what you’re thinking: “Hey, didn’t you say the size is a positive?” Yes, I did. But the small size also has some down sides. Less screen real estate for one. When watching TV via my SlingBox on the Mini, the experience is somewhat less enjoyable. Having said that, I’ve watch many a TV show on my iPhone so the iPad Mini will be an upgrade to that viewing experience.

Hard to Type On

For people with smaller hands, the smaller keyboard is great for typing. Yet, with my large hands, typing on the full size iPad isn’t that natural. It took me a while to get used to typing on the iPad mini and until that transition happened typing was quite awkward. It certainly wasn’t the right-out-of-the-box-awesomeness that you usually get with Apple. After using the Mini for almost a week I can say that my typing experience is back to positive.

Resolution

When I heard that the display was not a retina I was pretty bummed. And, if you look closely – particularly with apps that are graphics intensive – you can notice the lesser quality than on the new iPads and iPhones. However, for me this is not a big deal because it has all the pixels of iPad 2 scrunched down into the 7” size so it still looks pretty amazing. On top of that, none of the app makers had to adjust their apps for a new resolution so that is a pretty sweet benefit.

Smudges on the back

Probably the biggest unexpected negative for me is how the black aluminium back smudges. I typically have pretty dry (not oily) hands and I don’t use much in the way of lotions so I was pretty surprised how smudgy the back of the Mini gets. It certainly doesn’t help the beautiful design aesthetic. Can I get over this one? Yes. Is it a negative? Yes.

Covers

I purchased my iPad mini at Best Buy just so I could get one as quickly as possible on release day Friday. Best Buy had plenty of inventory when I arrived (at the opening  of business hours) yet they didn’t have a smart cover. This isn’t a negative of the device itself, but still a negative in my overall experience. I’m baffled why Apple would release a device but not supply its distributors the most demanded accessory. I had to wait about 5 days for Apple to send my smart cover in the mail. During that time I was freaking out that my screen would get scratched or broken.

Price

Apple is essentially asking us to pay full price for 2-generation-old technology. As demonstrated in the graphic above, there are certainly less expensive devices with much more to offer technically. However, the ability to stay within one operating system environment and port all of my apps over to this device is worth a lot of money to me (and I suspect to a lot of other Apple users as well).

Potential uses for churches:

  1. Signup kiosks
  2. Kids Check-in kiosks
  3. Digital Music Stands (I wonder how Planning Center’s app looks on the Mini)
  4. Pastor Teaching Notes
  5. FOH Audio Uses
  6. Usher/Greeter Info Systems (maps, access info on church’s site, etc).

Despite all of the negatives, I’ve already enjoyed the iPad Mini so much that I feel the price is worth it. What about you? What are your thoughts on the latest offerings from Apple?

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