Top positive review
3,150 people found this helpful
Best buy of the year
on 5 April 2013
(Please also see update at foot of this review)
Still undecided about whether to get the iPad Mini? Then maybe this will help, based on my own buying experience. By way of background, back in early 2012 I was looking for something small and portable, mainly to use at home whilst slumped in front of the TV, and for occasional use away from home via wifi hotspots. There was less choice around then so in the end I took the cheapest option and got a 7" Android tablet. However, I was never really happy with it, it seemed quite slow (1.2GHz chip), the capacitive screen was not very responsive, the wifi connection was a bit hit and miss, and I just never felt comfortable with it, so regretfully it spent most of its time in a drawer. In fairness, it was from the budget end of the market, and the instructions that came with it were absolutely useless, so I probably got off to a bad start, but first impressions etc.....
Move on a year and I came across an iPad Mini on display in a shop. (I had never previously owned any Apple products, so I did not start off with any preconceptions.) Anyway, as soon as I got my hands on the demo model I felt completely at home with it - very simple and intuitive to use, very responsive, and very solidly made. So, after a bit more research when I got home, I took the plunge and ordered one on Amazon.
Some tips: if you do buy online, then whilst waiting for delivery, download a copy of the instructions from the Apple website for a little light reading, and also set up an Apple ID as you will almost certainly need one unless you never want to download any Apps - even free ones need an Apple ID. You might also want to set up iCloud on your PC to get the most out of the Ipad and to synchronise with your PC. Go to the Apple website and search on iCloud and you will find the download page. (All of these things can of course be left until your iPad arrives, but why not get everything ready beforehand?)
When it arrived I switched it on straight out of the box - it was showing almost a full charge - and it went automatically to the set up routine - any decisions you make can be overwritten later via "Settings" so don't worry too much about getting it right first time. Some reviewers have commented that the written instructions are inadequate, but having already looked at the downloaded instructions I had no problems. Connecting to my wifi (BT Home Hub 3.0) was pretty much instant, and within 5 minutes I was up and running, initially browsing the web via Safari which I found to be very logical and easy to use (better than Internet Explorer? - make up your own mind). Setting up a few bookmarks (favourites) was straightforward having already read the downloaded instructions, but I then discovered that by opening the iCloud panel on my laptop (running on Windows 7) I could synchronise it with the iPad so that all of my IE favourites were automatically transferred to the iPad as bookmarks, including all of the folders/sub-folders, and in exactly the same order. Plus, any changes made subsequently on either machine automatically update on both - additions, deletions, renaming or re-arranging - which makes life much easier. Setting up eMail was my next task and here I did have some problems with my main email account which is with inbox.com, which I had to configure manually. However, after some trial and error with the server addresses I did manage to get it sorted, but if I had to do it again I would probably still struggle. But don't let this put you off, other email accounts may well be much easier (my BT and Yahoo accounts for instance were a doddle) and it CAN be done! Other stuff was fairly easy, downloading Apps is no problem, the camera is easy to use and pretty good, and whilst I am not into gaming or iTunes, so can't comment on those, I imagine they will be similarly easy to suss out. I have downloaded a few useful Apps, including Kindle, and now as well as downloads from Amazon I can also use the iPad to store and read Kindle books that I got from a bumper bundle DVD bought cheaply on eBay. As to the screen, I have not had any experience of the Retina version of the big iPad, but all I can say is that I do not have any problems with it, for its size it is very clear with no blurring, and the brightness can be set either manually or via the auto function.
So, I have now had my new toy for about 10 days and it is rarely out of my reach. I did find though that it was a bit too thin to hold comfortably for any length of time, and also that the aluminium back was quite cold to the touch, so I invested in a case which has overcome both of those problems and also gives good protection. (If you are after a decent leather style case at a very reasonable price of £1-99 with free delivery, have a look at my other reviews.) Battery life on the iPad is at the moment better than claimed - it is currently showing that I have had 3 hours usage plus 15 hours standby since last recharged and the battery indicator shows that there is still 73% remaining. I have also ordered a copy of "iPad Mini for Dummies" to help me get the maximum benefit from my investment. (See my separate review for this if you are interested).
If you have got this far, I assume you have found my comments useful and hope they will help you come to the right decision - buy one now, and enjoy!
UPDATED 7 May 2013
A month later and I can honestly say that I have absolutely no regrets about buying the "Mini". I now tend to use it for almost all of my browsing and emails, most days the laptop never gets switched on. I am still finding new features (the "Dummies" book has been very useful) so it is very much a voyage of discovery. I have not yet come across any problems, or found anything that I felt could be improved.
In conclusion, whilst the iPad Mini is the first Apple product I have owned, I somehow suspect that it won't be the last!