Like any good Apple junky, I’m doing the “to iPad mini or not to iPad mini” song and dance in my head right now. Despite being the owner of two of the three previous iPads (the first and second generation models for those keeping score), I’ve never managed to make the most out of them. I enjoy the iPad for mind mapping in iThoughts HD, OmniFocus reviews and now the new Camera+ integration, but it has always been more of a toy than a tool. However the latest offering is tempting and has the potential to be more than the toy of its larger, oft-neglected counterpart.
Travel and the iPad
When packing my bag for anything longer than an afternoon, there’s always a moments hesitation where I ask myself what I really need to take. I prefer the interoperability of OS X, so given the choice between an iPad and a 13" MacBook Air when on the go, I tend to grab my Mac. The difference in weight when in a bag is always negligible when compared to the bump in productivity. When traveling for extended periods of time (especially those that require flights), I tend to take both, so a lightening the overall load is also tempting.
The Daily Commute
I’m nowhere close to being a minimalist, but if there’s one way that I am, it’s in how I like to walk out the door… with as little as possible. Keys, phone, headphones, wallet and occasionally some walking around money. Any day I have to take a briefcase is rarely one of the better ones. This preference (which I may not have realized until I had the iPad) always kept the iPad sitting at home. That said, I still spend at between 80 minutes and two hours a day commuting on the subway so a slightly larger screen is tempting.
It’s Amazing What You Can Accomplish On An iPhone
For the most part, I’m right there with Brian Lam of Wirecutter:
The perfect iPad for me is the iPhone, aka, the iPad micro. It’s not for everyone, but it’s subsidized in cost and fits in your pocket and hand better than any tablet.
While this year’s iPhone was far from subsidized, my one minimal tendency has led me to use the hell out of it and I never question the purchase. I get tremendous value and enjoyment out of it. I do a surprising amount of my writing and reading on it. To quote my daughter’s favorite book, Eloise, it’s “my mostly companion” and has become a major part of many of my workflows. I’m enjoying the little bit of extra headspace that came along with the iPhone 5 and wonder if I really need another device (or, like most junkies, just want it). I’ve also been enjoying my iPhone 5 without a case (nonetheless a Morphie I’d need to get the kind of battery life I’d like), so lightening my usage with an iPad mini would help keep my iPhone as Jony Ive intended.
Smaller and Lighter Matters
It’s not just that this is a new Apple device that has me considering it (although let’s be honest, that’s a factor). The comparison in size between my current Air and iPad has always tipped me towards my Mac. The difference between the Air and the mini would likely lead me to lean on the iPad a lot more. The smaller form factor would likely fit in a few of my jackets, so that would help me crap rationalize it during the winter months and if I manage to work it more deeply into my workflows, I’m confident I can overcome the desire to travel light. The few times I’ve taken it on the subway, the iPad has always felt a little awkward, especially on the more crowded days, but in the moments when I enjoy using it on the couch, I’ve always wished for a bit more screen real estate on the go.
But So Does The Price
Apple products, at least in my estimation, deserve their premium. And while I had no problem paying an exorbitant amount for an iPhone that I know I’ll use, I’m finding it harder to rationalize the cost of a device I’m not quite certain about. While $329 may not seem like much compared to the cost of an unsubsidized iPhone (especially the 64GB model that I prefer), I’d have to add $130 for the LTE service and probably another $100 to bump up to 32GB hard drive to really get enough value out of the iPad mini to rationalize the cost.
It’s tempting, but for between nearly $500-$600, I’m not sure I want to chance that it will be a tool, especially in light of my past two iPads turning out to be little more than toys.
What about you, fellow junkies? Are you upgrading to something smaller, adding something larger or sticking with what you’ve already got?