Customer Review

139 of 146 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly light, fast and beautifully designed. Best tablet available., 30 Dec 2013
This review is from: Apple iPad mini with Retina display Wi-Fi - Tablet - 16 GB - 7.9" IPS ( 2048 x 1536 ) - rear camera + front camera - Wi-Fi, Bluetooth - silver(ME279B/A) (Personal Computers)
This iPad Mini is the most recent model, and it's an incredibly beautiful device. The iPad comes in several sizes (and prices) now:-

1. iPad Mini (with standard display)
2. iPad Mini with Retina Display - This one. The latest fastest Mini size iPad with an HD display.
3. iPad 2, 3 or 4th Generation - Full size iPads
4. iPad Air - The latest fastest full size iPad.

Oddly enough, it's so beautifully easy to use (my one year old daughter loves playing with it), it's almost doesn't feel like a computer at all. I bought one for my 10 year old daughter and she absolutely loves it. We sold the previous Android tablet as it just sat in a drawer not being used.

A word of warning - this review is written for people who've never owned an iPad before - and are wondering what all the fuss is about. Don't read this if you already own an iPad or Mini and are thinking about an upgrade - I'd recommend you simply buy a mini with Retina or an iPad Air.

Just what's all the fuss about?

I used to own a laptop for work, and (very occasionally), it'd sit on my lap on the sofa, and I'd use it for pleasure (eMail, watching films or playing the odd game). Then I bought my first iPad, and the laptop became redundant, a boring "work device". Hard to explain, but the fact the iPad is so small and light, and you navigate around with your finger by pointing and gently swiping the screen makes the whole experience a lot easier - a lot more fun.

Even my most "luddite" of friends have been won over.

It's incredibly simple and easy to use (it only has one main button), and everyone from my one year old daughter to my 85 year old dad have taken to without problems. It's size and shape also support using it like a book (literally to read a book or web page), but you can also watch TV and films.

Personally I'm also paranoid about my password getting "hacked", and someone running up a huge Amazon bill or buying stuff with my credit card on eBay. Well one of the benefits of the iPad (and iPhone) is it's "almost impossible" to get a virus - one of the most common ways to get hacked. This doesn't mean you shouldn't use strong passwords, (both Sony and Adobe got hacked), but it's reassuring to leave the Windows world behind.

Finally, I love the way these devices (iPad, iPhone, Apple TV, Apple Mac), increasingly work together. The fact you can start a Pages document on your Mac and edit it on your iPad, or take photos on the iPhone, and in seconds see them on the iPad or Mac and display them on the Apple TV.

The thing is, "it just works".

What would you use if for?

* Shopping online. Obviously - you could be reading a review on Amazon about the iPad Air!
* Video Calling. With either "FaceTime" (to another Apple device) or Skype - you can make video calls to other people
* Reading web pages. As you can hold it like a book it's great to read the news online (my wife loves the Daily Mail Online).
* Reading Books. It's great for reading books from Amazon Kindle or Apple Books with the benefit of 1,000s of online book reviews
* Navigating web pages. Instead of clicking with a mouse, you gently swipe your fingers on screen to scroll around
* Watching Films. I use it to watch Netflix online videos (with an Apple TV you can send stuff to the telly)
* Watching TV. With the free BBC iPlayer app you can catch up or download BBC programs
* Reading and replying to mail. I use "mailbox" a great free app to read and reply to mails, but there's a free one included
* Showing and organising photos. Any photos on an iPhone are automatically available within minutes in "the cloud"
* Playing games. From fun puzzle games like "Cut the Rope" to fully fledged first person shooters.
* Listening to the Radio. With "Tune in Radio" you can listen to thousands of radio stations world-wide.
* Listening to music. I stream mine to an Apple TV, but you can also buy portable speakers or just plug into the AUX socket
* The list goes on and on.

Which model should I buy?

I can't comment about Android tablets (apart from the Google Nexus 7 which is well regarded), but in terms of the Apple tablet line-up:-

iPad mini Size:-

* iPad mini is a lovely tablet. A 7.9 inch screen and astonishingly light and remarkably thin - it feels like a light-weight book.
* iPad mini with retina screen. Again 7.9 inch screen, but with the blazingly fast A7 chip and a "retina" (high definition) screen. Worth the upgrade if you can afford it. The HD screen is amazing, and faster chip means it will be a bit more "future proof".

Full Size iPad options. (much larger screen - makes a huge difference):-

* 1st Generation iPad. Seldom available new - best avoided - there's better options available
* 2nd Generation. Avoid the Apple iPad 2, it's a relatively old model, under-powered and with a lower resolution screen. If you really want an Apple but don't want to spend the cash, buy a 16g WIFI 3rd or 4th generation iPad from Amazon or eBay. Avoid this one.
* iPad 3rd Generation. First iPad with the "Retina" (high definition) screen. A5X chip. Excellent iPad - highly recommended
* iPad 4th Generation. With A6X chip. In short, not quite as fast as the latest chip but pretty zippy. Biggest difference is the smaller power socket and slightly faster processor.
* iPad Air. Same fast (A7) chip as the Mini with Retina - the latest and fastest iPad available. This has been re-designed to be even smaller than the iPad 2/3/4 and with the new chip making it even faster.

In terms of which to buy - if you want something REALLY small and light to read on the train, the iPad Mini or the latest version with the Retina screen is your best bet. Otherwise, the 3rd, 4th generation or iPad Air is your best option - depending upon your budget.

Me I've owned a 1st and 3rd generation full size iPad and most recently an Air. My daughter owns an iPad mini, and we've loved them all.

What are the Optional add-ons?

Well, assuming you've dropped by the Apple Store or John Lewis (which I would highly recommend), and handled the iPad Mini (with/without retina screen), and iPad 2 and Air then your options are around memory size and cellular option.

Memory: Once bought, you can't add memory (space for apps, films, books etc). However, the basic price goes up a huge amount (+£80 for the 16g to 32g iPad Air). But, having owned a 16g and then a 32g iPad - I can safely recommend the 16g unless you really want to store a huge amount of videos and downloads. Only you can decide, and if you're lucky enough that money is no object then splash out. Otherwise, 16g should be fine for most people.

Celular: Allows you to connect to the internet while you're out and about. This will add an additional +£100 to the price and means you can slip in a mobile phone SIM card. This means (for an additional £7-15 a month extra), you can access the internet on the move. Alternatively, you can opt for the WIFI option, and use it at home or at at "hot spot" (eg. Starbucks, most rail stations and hotels etc).

Personally I'd buy (and indeed did), the 16Gb iPad Air WIFI. But again, it depends upon your budget.

Do I need anything else?

Most people (me included) buy a cover. Apple (and now several copy-cats) make a "smart-cover" which automatically shuts down the iPad when you close it, and switches it on when you open it. There's versions which cover the back, or just the screen. Apple charge from £35 to £65 for their (admittedly) high quality fabric or leather covers, but there's many available from £10. Be aware, you do get what you pay for.

Personally,I think it's a pity to cover the beautiful aluminium industrial design of the iPad with a cover - but if you've spent hundreds of pounds you'll want to protect it from scrapes and bangs.

I also invested in a keyboard (£25-80), as I tend to write a lot of mails and documents (remember it comes with a word processor). I'd recommend (for the iPad Air) the Logitech Ultra Thin iPad Air Case with Keyboard - Space Greyand the ZAGG Keys iPad Air Case Folio with Backlit Keyboard - Black although these are strictly optional unless you want to use your iPad as a proper laptop.

Word of warning: If you're looking for a case or keyboard be sure to buy the correct size (they're all different):-

1. iPad mini size
2. iPad 2, 3 or 4th generation (full size iPad)
3. iPad Air size (full size but designed to be smaller)

Finally, if you have another Apple device (eg. an iPhone, Apple TV or Mac) you'll find these work together beautifully. For example, you can create a reminder on your iPad and it appears on your iPhone. Equally, photos taken on your iPhone appear on your iPad, and you can stream music or videos from iPad, iPhone or Mac to an Apple TV.

One word of advice - make sure the entire family use the same "Apple iTunes Account" - but you all have a separate "iCloud Account". This means, when you buy an App, Music or Film on one iDevice its available to everyone, but you each have separate "Cloud Storage" to backup your iPad or store documents independent of each other. Incidentally, creating an iCloud account means your iPad is automatically backed up (no wires, no fuss) every time you charge it up. A wonderful feature - one of many.

Overall Opinion

It's hard to believe the iPad version 1 was released just four years ago, and there's a huge raft of "me too" tablet computers to choose from, but the Apple iPad is still the one to beat. As "Which?" magazine put it about the iPad Air - "...the best tablet we've ever tested. Apple packs a beautiful screen and lightning fast processor into a slimmer-than-ever shell, and battery life is very impressive".

Yes, there are cheaper Android based alternatives, but the quality, design and beauty of this tablet just sets it apart. If it were a car it'd be a top of the range Mercedes or a BMW. Looking at the iPad 3rd or 4th generation, you've not quite got the "latest version" - but it's still a top end tablet computer.

Obviously, depending upon your budget, buy the latest iPad (full size or mini) available - but whichever one you buy you're sure to be delighted.

Highly Recommended.

PS. [...]. Feel free to comment or ask a question.
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 17 Jan 2014 20:45:04 GMT
"QuickBrew" says:
Hi John Ryan (London, UK),
It is so nice to see someone go to the trouble of writing such a useful and thoughtful account of their purchase, (even though you are so obviously enchanted with apple products. lol)

Your review is so good that even though I am am android devotee I just had to let you know how impressed I am that you have gone to the trouble to actually help people from your own personal experience.

I have gone through ½ a dozen android tablets and my wife now asks me why I didn't save some money and just buy an iPad (variant) in the first place, and to a degree she does have a valid point.

However, as I have never parted with more that £129.00 (my most expensive purchase in 2010) I have learned so much about android devices and the constantly changing/growing android operating system which is an experience I could never have had with an iPad - arguably many would not want to anyway.

My wife bought me a bargain buy for Christmas of a 1.5 Ghz Quad-core 7" tablet from Aldi (their Medion outlet) which for £79.00 packed quite a punch but was let down by the screen resolution but otherwise allowed me the usual large choice of goodies. Unfortunately she managed to accidentally crack the digitizer/screen for me on boxing day and repairs were not an option due to cost so I very soon began to look around and I found this. which I got for the promotional price of £89.99 available on Amazon here: for £94.99.

Far from the new iPad mini I know but with the same A7 quad-core processor and screen resolution as the iPad mini first addition I am well pleased for the money. Obviously the hardware lacks in other areas such as only 8Gig memory but is expandable with mini Sd card to +32Gb.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Jan 2014 10:27:58 GMT
John Ryan says:
Hi Quickbrew, thanks for the comment. Yes, I guess I am a self confessed Apple devotee. I do agree with Which magazine though, who said, their products are "eye-wateringly expensive", and I really do hope the Android devices give Apple a run for their money. I keep hoping they'll reduce their prices, but they're clearly aiming for the "BMW" end of the technology market.

Me, I've now decided I no longer buy technology, I rent it. Buy an upgrade every couple of years, and then sell it on eBay, and use the cash to fund the upgrade. Lets hope I can continue to afford to do so.

Ouch! Real pity to lose your "Christmas Cracker" so soon. That would really upset me.

One final thanks for the comment on the review - praise indeed.

All the very best, John R

Posted on 20 Mar 2014 20:13:00 GMT
thinking of buying ipad ,found write up very helpful, thanks

In reply to an earlier post on 15 May 2014 23:50:45 BDT
linuxman says:
Thanks for your review. Over the years, i have become increasingly agitated by my net-books, laptops and PC's running windows due to stalling, long delays waiting for pages to load in spite of regular cache and junk file clearance plus my wife complaining followed by giving up. But I always found Linux OS to be speedy, no delays indicating its a windows problem. Now Android\linux convert as from 2 years ago. But, suddenly my Nephew produced an Ipad he had acquired. Well how do I start, always avoided apple products due to price as android does the same. Within a few minutes I realized why apple tablets are popular. Although its OS is based on Unix like Linux, its far more fluid to use, its so smooth, it glides, its wonderful. Just has that extra edge or polish over android. I am converted. Now trying to convince who must be obeyed and that it will be a Bonus \time saver for Her. Thanks from Ken

In reply to an earlier post on 16 May 2014 16:15:33 BDT
John Ryan says:
Dear Ken, thanks for the comment. Pleased to see an objective view. I'd use an ICL 3090 if it did the job - and 30 years ago it did. Totally agnostic, but sold on Apple. Completely agree about the Windows pain, and share your reservations about the Apple prices. Sad to say though you do get what you pay for, and having used an Android phone for the past 2 months, I'm even more eager to get back to an iPhone.

I recommended an iPad for a "Luddite" friend of mine. He's a "down-to-earth" Yorkshireman to his bones, and still has a Nokia 8210 phone. "If it aint broke, don't fix it". He finally bought an iPad and has to fight his wife for it.

If/when you make the leap (keeping in mind an upgrade due around September/October) I'm sure you won't want to go back.

All the best,
John R

Posted on 10 Jun 2014 12:58:34 BDT
What an incredibly well considered and useful review - thank you!

Just one question - it costs quite a bit more to get the retina display model - what's the benefit and is it worth the extra? Oops, sorry John - two questions!

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jun 2014 14:26:32 BDT
John Ryan says:
Hi there Sue,

Many Thanks for the comment. Praise indeed. Really pleased it was useful.

Like you, I too was skeptical of the benefit of the "retina" iPad mini. Remember, the "mini" is as thin (about 5mm or so) as the iPad Air, but whereas the Air is about the size of an A4 pad of paper, the "mini" is about the size of a paperback book.
Great to use holding with one hand on the train.

As for which to buy, while cost is a question, I'd definately buy the "retina" model. In addition to the screen quality (which is quite remarkable), the HUGE difference is speed.

The 1st Generation mini (non-retina) is now two years old, and a A5 chip, whereas the "retina" is less than 12 months old, has a MUCH faster processor and double the memory.

Even that wouldn't really sell it to me (why do I need a faster machine), it's not buying you speed, it's buying you product life-time. You'll find after about 4 years, your mini gradually becomes slower (true of almost any hardware) as the software becomes increasingly feature rich.
In short, the retina mini will last you a lot longer - and give you more pleasure because it will still be quick to use.

In fact the only difference between the "iPad mini retina" and the "iPad Air" is physical screen size. Under the hood, they are the same super-fast and thin computer.

My little girl has used a mini (non-retina) for the past two years and loves it. She uses it absolutely ever day waithout fail. However, even I can see it will eventually slow down to the point it will need to go to eBay and be replaced.

To get the most out of an iPad, I'd always buy the newest (but not always the biggest) I could afford, and the retina is worth the money.

Hope this helped.

All the best,

John R

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jun 2014 16:51:06 BDT
Last edited by the author on 10 Jun 2014 16:52:25 BDT
What a brilliantly helpful reply - thank you John!

My situation is this: I have a first-generation iPad (which I was lucky enough to win when they first came out!). I also have a Sony e-Reader which is a lovely bit of kit but absolutely useless as the books for it ¡V even if you can find them ¡V are prohibitively expensive. And I have just recently had to update my Sony laptop. As I'm about to go on hols, I want to be able to upload some books and it might be a sensible idea to upgrade to this mini iPad and, in theory, kill two birds with one stone. From what you say here, retina display is clearly the one to go for. Now I must just decide if I want to shell out the money!

Thank you so much again for taking the time to provide such helpful information :)

Best wishes

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