Will I regret getting the new iPad mini?
January 24, 2014 7:40 PM   Subscribe

My laptop died, and I think I want to get an iPad to replace it for casual stuff. Can you help me make a decision between the iPad Air and the Retina mini? Enumeration of what I want from it are inside.

Since my laptop died, I've been using a combination of my Android phone (Samsung Galaxy S4) and occasionally borrowing my partner's aging laptop. I'm thinking that my computer needs would be best served by a desktop for heavy-duty gaming/graphics editing/tinkering with coding and a tablet for casual fun and relaxing.

What I want from a tablet: I like playing pretty and engaging casualish games like Kingdom Rush and am annoyed at how often apps aren't ported to Android for many months after the iOS release (hence my desire to go with an iPad and not an Android tablet). I'm excited to play card games like Ascension and Hearthstone, and other big, pretty games my phone can't handle. I don't watch a lot of movies or TV. I do a lot of reading and some commenting online, and I'd like the option to touch-type with a keyboard accessory so I could do morning pages while curled up in bed. Oh, and I really like reading webcomics. I want this for hanging out on the couch or maybe watching yoga videos, not for entertaining myself while commuting--I doubt I'll take it out of the house much aside from the couple of times a year when I travel.

I'm leaning towards getting a Retina mini, because it's cheaper (so I could get the model with 64GB for my budget vs the 32GB model of the iPad air). I'm guessing that I won't find the screen to small for web browsing, coming from my phone, but I've read that the mini's color profile is slightly worse, and I don't think I care about toss-it-in-the-purse portability. Will I regret the smaller screen size? Is the mini too small for card/board games? Will I be sad about the colors not being optimal when I'm playing games and reading comics? Are the keyboard add-ons as comfortable to type on? Does a mini feel like a scaled-down substitute, or the real thing?

I'm hoping someone out there has similar tablet needs to mine and can comment on how their current-gen iPad is working out for them. (I know iPad questions have come up here before, but they mostly seemed to be pre-Retina-mini.) Thanks, hivemind!
posted by rivenwanderer to Shopping (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I have both an iPad air and an original iPad mini (non-retina) and while the air has a nicer screen, as you'd expect, otherwise I don't often notice to much of a difference between them. X-com runs better on the air, with its faster processor, but the retina mini has the faster processor as well. I also prefer the air for e-books, but only because of the high-res screen. For many every day tasks I will just use whichever one is closer at the moment.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:13 PM on January 24


I have an iPad 2 that I used every day for everything -- reading books, comic books, watching video, browsing, some gaming. Then I got a retina Mini for Christmas and I've barely picked up my 2 since; I rarely notice that the screen is smaller except when I'm noticing how much more convenient it is. I actually like it more for games because the screen size is ample and the device is easier to handle.
posted by chudmonkey at 8:33 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


I love the size of the mini. I find it to be much easier to use because it's so light while still being easy to read/watch. I use it 95% of the time for fun stuff.
posted by quince at 9:01 PM on January 24


I have a retina iPad mini that I mostly use for web browsing and games while at home. I think the size and the display are great.

I have other devices with bigger color gamut, including the latest N7. I can tell the difference in a side by side comparison, but it's not such a large difference that I ever think "let me grab the N7 to look at this picture".

I don't do any typing on my iPad, so no idea what that would be like.
posted by Courage is going from failure to failure at 9:23 PM on January 24


I have a Retina mini. For me it is the Goldilocks of mobile devices, but i have small hands, and the bag-tossability is a big factor. But, it is pretty much perfect for web browsing, movies, games etc.

For you,though, I might lean towards the full size. Typing with an external keyboard means the screen would be further away, and it would doubtless be better for multiplayer board games. Maybe get one from best buy and try both for a couple of weeks each using the return policy?
posted by Jon Mitchell at 11:00 PM on January 24


I bought a Google Nexus 7 and an iPad mini and used them both for a while. I returned the iPad after about a week of testing. It was WAY more expensive and I couldn't hold it in my hand like a book for reading at night, and the iPad felt like it could break, the Nexus was so sturdy I felt like I could throw it in my pocket and take it anywhere. My partner reads all his comics on his Nexus 7. The great thing about the Nexus is you can literally just plug it into your computer, any computer, and drop files onto it. I actually keep all of my books in Calibre and transfer new ones to my Nexus wirelessly. I'm a devoted Apple computer user (since 1994), but I think the Nexus is a better device for what I use it for, reading, web browsing, social media, email and whatnot when lounging or in bed. The ability to hold the nexus in one hand while reading is so important to me. As for why not a Kindle, I also bought one of those to test along with the tablets, but the abject failure with PDFs means it's a no-go for me.
posted by jardinier at 12:24 AM on January 25


I have an ipad2 and a iPad mini. Since I got the mini at Christmas, I use it much more for web browsing, reading email, etc. than the bigger iPad. I mostly leave the ipad2 at work for presentations and stuff now.
posted by tamitang at 5:09 AM on January 25


I have a Retina Mini. I debated gettingthhe bigger size and am glad I didn't--this one is much more usable, I find, for basic tasks like browsing and especially reading longer articles and so on.
posted by synecdoche at 5:49 AM on January 25


The retina mini and ipad air are basically the same machine, except for size.

both have a7/m7 micro and motion processor, similar battery life.

i have an air. i read books on mine and appreciate the extra real estate on the display.

get applecare plus. 50 bux to replace it if you drop it. i think it's worth it.
posted by FauxScot at 12:57 PM on January 25


I had the original iPad and was kind of looking to upgrade when my laptop (MacBook) died. I decided, rather than getting a new laptop, to get a new iMac and a Retina mini, and the combo was cheaper than the laptop I would have got.

The vast majority of my computer use is like yours. Internet on the couch, reading ebooks, the occasional movie in bed or on the plane. I really felt like I needed a dedicated desktop machine so I could continue to manage music, photos, video projects etc. and for typing long articles and working from home.

That having been said, I spend >95% of my computer time on the iPad mini. The size is perfect, I feel like I am giving up nothing in image and functionally I am able to type on the screen keyboard just as well as my old first gen iPad. The portability and comfort carrying/holding the mini is a million times better that the old iPad or my wife's full size iPad 2.

I do suspect that I could be just as happy with a Nexus or some other tablet that costs less, but we are an Apple family and I was willing to pay the premium for keeping an os that we're familiar with.

But to get to your question, the mini really is the correct size for a tablet, you won't be sorry.
posted by Random Person at 3:46 PM on January 25


Oh, also, I take the mini to work conferences, and am able to annotate power point slides, take notes, etc with zero problems.

Also, also, I have big clumsy hands.
posted by Random Person at 3:48 PM on January 25


I got the retina mini and love it so far. It feels huge to me! I don't know that I'd want anything bigger. Thanks, everyone :)
posted by rivenwanderer at 3:53 PM on February 4


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