By Judah Taylor
When the first iPad came out in 2010, it was mocked as a quick cash grab that was nothing more than a giant iPod Touch. Two and a half years and 100 million iPads sold later, Apple’s tablets account for 91 percent of Internet tablet traffic, according to Apple.
Apple’s newest iPad — the iPad mini — is sure to be just as popular. The only thing up for debate is the mini’s usefulness.
A quick look at the guts of the mini show that when Apple Vice President of Marketing Phil Schiller said the mini was a “full iPad experience,” he wasn’t joking. The mini’s stats are equal to or better than the iPad 2 in every way, including price. The mini costs about $70 less than its year old cousin, and is only 1.8” smaller.
One of the mini’s strengths is its portability. You can take it anywhere, for any reason. Once it’s in a purse or coat pocket you’re ready to go.
For students, it’s an even more useful tool.
iPad’s have a legendary battery that can last all day. That’s a huge advantage if you’re a student who spends all day on campus.
Tablets in general are usually free of the cell-phone and laptop “stigmata” that sometimes plagues technology use in classrooms. Some professors have been known to deny students the use of cell phones or laptops for the use of taking notes or making calculations, but usually are easier on tablet usage.
The iPad mini can be used for more than taking notes, though. Students can record audio and video of lectures and browse the web with a large and beautiful laptop-worthy aspect ratio. They can even use it as a calculator and take advantage of thousands of apps geared towards college students and businesses, like Dropbox and Evernote — all things that other tablets wouldn’t do, or won’t do as well.
What really sets the tablet apart for students is its ability to access e-textbooks — which are much cheaper than traditional books — and Blackboard. From anywhere. Students can upload an assignment at anytime and always have a copy of the syllabus or textbook with them.
Replacing tools and books with the iPad mini can take a lot clutter and weight out of a crowded bag or backpack. The mini is “as thick as a pencil, and as light as a pad of paper,” according to Schiller. It weighs only .68 lbs., and can be held for a long time before fatiguing its user.
The only drawbacks to owning the iPad mini are the obvious ones. Typing on it could take some getting used to, and typing a research paper on it may prove tricky. Printing and transferring files off any iPad can be troublesome. There’s cloud storage, email and apps like Dropbox for transferring files but no USB port, and a special printer is needed to print directly from the tablet device.
Those who own a laptop and smartphone may not need the mini, but those who have only one or neither may find it to be a useful companion.
Pre-orders for the iPad mini start Friday Oct. 26. The device goes on sale in stores Nov. 2. Pricing starts at $329 for the 16GB model.
Judah Taylor is a Kernel news writer. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.