iPad mini: worth it for translators/interpreters?
August 17, 2014 10:30 AM   Subscribe

I'm a grad student/translator who's debating picking up an iPad mini. Help me decide if it's worth it when I already have a bunch of other tech.

I have a chance to pick up a non-retina 16GB iPad mini for $199. I had some vague ideas about getting a tablet for grad school anyway, but only if it'll be useful to me- I already have an iPhone 5c and a macbook pro.

To the translators/interpreters of MeFi: has having a tablet been useful to you? Any apps you'd recommend?

Other perhaps pertinent details:
- I don't really care about retina/non-retina; it's nice to have but not a deal-breaker for me.
- I read and listen to audiobooks, mostly; occasionally I watch movies or TV shows. I'm a casual gamer but unfortunately Pokemon does not exist on the iPad.
- I don't travel much, but occasionally I will make the kind of trip where having an iPad will be much easier on me than a laptop.

posted by Tamanna to Technology (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm a translator and have a (non iPad) tablet. I have to say I hardly use it for work, though I do love the thing. I do the occasional bit of research (Googling) on it and have used it for displaying documents but that's about it.

There may be ways to use it for translation work that I haven't thought of, though! And I know very little about interpreters' working methods.
posted by altolinguistic at 11:26 AM on August 17, 2014

I do a lot of Japanese-English translating at work, and I can't imagine trying to efficiently translate long technical documents on a tablet computer. Unless it's a quick spot translation, for most projects I usually have three programs running in several separate windows at the same time (2+ word processor windows for the translation, a spreadsheet for keeping an active glossary of terms, and Google Chrome with a few choice collocative dictionaries open in different tabs). As you can imagine, this requires a lot of switching between tabs and windows, something from my experience the iPad and other tablets are not particularly good at.

I occasionally interpret at business meetings, and all I've ever needed is a memo pad and my traditional electronic dictionary. I imagine an iPad would come in handy here if it had a quality bilingual dictionary app, but I haven't found one for Japanese yet that beats my regular electronic dictionary.
posted by Kevtaro at 1:35 PM on August 17, 2014

I am another translator (not interpreter) who imagined the iPad mini would be a useful work tool while travelling and, like Kevtaro, I quickly found out it's a PITA with just one window open at a time. You can switch between windows with the three (or four?) finger swipe, but it's still so clumsy & slow.

Fun toy tho! (Also, trip-wise I use it a lot to check/reply to email and as an eReader. I've seen it used to take notes in meetings so you might find it useful in lectures and the like?)
posted by ClarissaWAM at 2:45 PM on August 17, 2014

I have a Mac, iPad, and iPhone.

First, retina displays really are nice. My phone has one, my iPad doesn't. I really notice the difference.

Second, I like having the iPad for lots of reasons, but none of them have anything to do with translating.

I've used my iPad with an external keyboard to take minutes at meetings (not translation-related, just as a point of information). It's OK for that but a laptop is still better.

Kevtaro—you might be interested in EBPocket Professional, which lets you load up any EDICT or EPWing-formatted or dictionary. Thanks to it, I've got the Green Goddess on my iPhone.
posted by adamrice at 3:30 PM on August 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

The differences between the mini and the retina mini are more than the display. The Retina mini has a more powerful 64-bit processor that will probably make it the cut-off point for a future version of iOS. So, I would recommend that you get the retina mini for that reason.
posted by TimeDoctor at 5:57 PM on August 17, 2014

Are you getting the mini because it's a neat little media tool, or as something to use for work? If you just want something to watch/listen to while you're on the move, yes, the mini is very convenient.

But if you're going to use it for translations (working with text as opposed to audio/spoken material) please think twice about:
- how large or small your hands are, and
- how well (or poorly) you can type on a small keyboard.

The ipad mini will either force you to give up half of your (already small) screen for a keyboard that's still far smaller than your average netbook keyboard. Even if you pick up a bluetooth keyboard-case thing, you're still going to be using chiclet-sized keys for most of your typing. My mitts can barely touch just a single key at a time. But my SO has decently sized hands and can type away for hours like that.

How would you be happy working?
posted by Tara-dactyl at 4:59 AM on August 18, 2014

« Older How to navigate the New York State Health...   |   When I hold up my hand, I give myself the finger Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.