Category Archives: iPad

MacBook Air vs. MBP13 or wait/hope for MacBook 12?

I want to talk about the MacBook 2016 and MacBook Pro 2016s that I purchased for a minute and then onto what’s next for me. I bought my rose gold MacBook 2016 in the highest configuration, the Macbook Pro with Touch Bar came out and that led to a 2nd purchase. Other than desktop Macs that I replaced last year, these are still my main Macs. I don’t use desktops much.

I’m typing on my Rose Gold MacBook 12 which I prefer over my faster but heavier MBP with Touch Bar. So, after 3 years, I’m kind of in the mood for a new laptop and have that same dilemma except a bit worse right now. I can’t believe there is no MacBook 12 for 2018 or 2019. I have a VERY hard time believing this is a discontinued model. No way!

Rumors have been going around for a long time that the next MacBook 12 will be driven by one of Apple’s A chips, not an intel chip. The industry this year is coming to the conclusion that Apple needs to do this platform switch. Also, we have incursions from iOS 13 with Catalyst coming to help migrate iOS apps to the Mac. If iOS app migration and A chips continue to close in on Macs and MacOS, the MacBook may get a double whammy soon!

Software development is slow compared to hardware except that firmware is essentially software burned into silicon so it’s still trouble. There’s no way Apple can turn its back on Mac miniaturization. I know some may think Macs are yesterday’s news but some of the best things and all the big complex apps have been on PCs and Macs not on smartphones and iPads.

iOS apps are getting better as that is where the volume is. As in 20 smartphones vs 1 Mac and maybe 3 PCs. This is guesswork with these numbers, but in any case we have developers working on stuff that fits on tiny devices that never grows up to run on Mac apps.

The Mac and Windows apps aren’t getting upgraded fully if at all. FileMaker Go is practically a view only device compared to FileMaker Pro Advanced which can build incredibly powerful and complex databases and automate just about anything at scale. Part of the problem is that iOS is a touch or fat finger environment that can’t handle as much detail/complexity as a Mac or say Windows 10.

One more time on Desktop Software. It’s not going away. It is being invested in and can run on things like a sexy little MacBook 12. In MacOS Catalina come Fall, we get to plug an iPad into our Macs and use Apple Pencils on the Mac software that supports it. Macs will get a little more fun in their lives and who knows what happens with Apple’s A processors cranking out augmented reality on these Macs. Interesting that we are actually plugging the iPads in with wires, I guess the wires will allow better performance. Which might be understandable if we throw in a big dose of augmented reality. I hope someone finds an application for AR quickly for something fun like maybe genealogy family trees – kind of like time travel if the software can figure out how to visualize that.

So, temporarily I’m stuck with the NEW COOL MacBook Air 2019. OK, 12 ounces heavier isn’t working for me but I do admire the 13 inches of screen real estate over the 12 — some stuff is designed for a minimum of 13″. Also, I very much appreciate the 2 Thunderbolt ports vs. 1 USB-C on the MB12. I get 4 on a MacBook Pro — 2 on both sides which really helps when you need a plug and power is on your right side.

The new Air 13 seems to get a thumbs down from reviewers based on performance. Just like the MacBook 12’s have done. The 13 has a girly 8th gen Y Intel processor (a lousy 2 cores) vs. the beefy hotter 9th gen 4-core processor in the new MBPs. All I can say to Apple is you could have done a little more for the Air. Like offer an option but I suppose that wedge and that 1/4 lb. lighter Mac couldn’t handle these beefier hotter chips. I think the marketing guys were trying to drive a wedge between the two models. Whatever.

Even though 1/4 lb. is almost nothing, I seem drawn to the Air 13. It is a vote for smaller lighter. I would get the next MB12 if there were any available other than a 2017 (that’s too historic and only 1 year ahead of what I have now!). Also, cost is an issue with the MBP. It’s too easy to end up spending close to $3000 with one of those if you, like me, want to have 16gb RAM and a terabyte SSD for an extra $200. The Air I want probably will cost me closer to $2000, but once you open the floodgates of processor choices on the MBP13, you cross the $2500 line in a heart beat.

Anyway, if you are a woman like me who is not crazy about even an extra 1/4 lb. or like little devices like I do and really aren’t doing lots of intensive gaming or video processing or something, I say go with the Air 13. OK. One last admission, I have an iMac Pro on my desk should some crazy reason for more power come up at some point. I pretty much hate working at my desk, so most work is done like this on the couch with my MB12.

There is an outside chance a MacBook 12 will show up if Apple doesn’t like its sales of Macs in September but I doubt it. I’m still a little on the fence about buying before I can get a 2019 or 2020 MacBook 12 but as soon as I make a move, you’ll be the first to know!

iPad mini in hand

I’ve had hands on with the white iPad mini for 2 days now. It’s incredibly small and light. What a difference. The lack of retina resolution is the only weakness. Extremely small type is most affected. Retina fanatics should check one out at the Apple store, Best Buy or other store carrying one to see the screen and size for yourself.

Which iPad to use when? I can’t tell yet whether the split in use between big and small iPads will be 50-50 or what.  It will be interesting to see whether the pleasure of using such a small and light iPad will exceed the pleasure of full-on retina and by how much. But the iPad mini insures that I will have an iPad with me more often. It will especially help for apps that are iPad only like Thinkbook and Paper. Or for iBooks Author ebooks.

Screen Size and Smaller targets. You can adjust the size of type in most iPad apps to adjust for the smaller screen. The smaller buttons and icons work perfectly well in most cases. Any iPad apps size down without a hitch. But, some small things like the text in the bookmarks bar in Safari get really small. It doesn’t pay to try to tap them on the mini. I just type my letter abbreviations into the unified location and search field. The screen is huge compared to the iPhone but that doesn’t eliminate all negative consequences of a screen size shrink. Popular apps will get little tweaks to optimize for the mini in the next weeks. Flipboard has already been tweaked.

Web surfing. Compared to web surfing with an iPhone, the iPad mini is a dream. This little guy will travel well and will be there with your iPhone to help you out when you need a bigger screen. It just won’t help quite as thoroughly as its big brother. Keep in mind that mostly the iPad mini just works and replaces iPad 3 without incident, but I am looking for the flaws and differences here and have found a few.

Advantages. The most important advantages of the iPad mini are the $170 less it costs and its wonderful hand-friendly size and weight. I paid $729 for my 32gb iPad 3 with LTE and $329 for the 16gb wifi-only mini. That’s $400 less. When I need internet and I’m away from wi-fi I can create a personal hotspot on my iPhone and connect my mini that way. I’ll manage with 16 gigs and 1 more LTE device is too many even for me.

Retina mini. A year from now, we will likely have one and the perfect iPad may be realized. I didn’t want to wait a year for a retina version of a smaller iPad. If Apple had chosen to charge $399 and offered this year’s version in retina, I would have bought one and been a little happier I think – retina fanatic that I am. I am not so price sensitive that the cost would have deterred me. But the weight and thickness would have been more and will be more even next year.

The iPad mini will sooner or later cross that retina divide. Meanwhile, I have an awesome little iPad that will let me have access to amazing apps that I love and find essential. Retina or otherwise, most of the time I’m not focusing on the retina or not-retina. I’m reading, learning, writing, drawing, researching and being entertained regardless.

Considerations on Whether to Get an iPad mini

Oct 29: I see that all models of the iPad mini are now showing 2 weeks for their delivery time in the US Apple store. Brave souls have taken the plunge sight unseen. It would help to evaluate this new device to hold it in one’s hand and try it out though. I’ll report back to you on Friday when mine arrives.

Like most Apple products, the build of the smaller tablet is excellent, easily surpassing the competition on the market. By comparison, the Nexus 7 and Fire HD feel like toys. Other manufacturers are going to have to up their game with this product in town. It’s just a striking difference in materials and solidness.

Updated Oct 26: I  preordered a white, wifi-only 16gb iPad mini at midnight Thursday. Please note, I would get an LTE 32gb iPad mini if it was my only iPad but I’m keeping my iPad 3 LTE. I can create a personal wi-fi hotspot with my iPhone 5 for my mini if needed.

At $329, the iPad mini is a more costly than we expected. I had it pegged at $249 and some thought Apple might get crazy and hit $199. I already have the iPad 3 which is now old news with the new iPad 4 announced yesterday.

I thought I would pounce on the mini when I imagined it to be a cheap smaller iPad even if it wasn’t retina because I wanted a Nexus 7-sized tablet that could be a cross between a color kindle and an iPad. I could forget about Kindle and be iPad all the time using my iPad 3 at home mostly when a bigger screen seemed better and using the mini around town when I was travelling light.

Spoiled by the size and lightness of the Kindle 2, I’ve wanted a smaller, lighter iPad all along. I bought a Kindle Fire last December. Even though it is a bit of brick, I liked the size especially for reading. I bought a Nexus 7 in July and love its size, shape and weight. Both of these are gathering dust because I can’t get the apps I want on these devices. I’m not married to google, so that ecosystem doesn’t hold me. I strongly prefer iBooks as an ereader to the Kindle app and don’t appreciate the dumbed down interface on the Fire.

There is inherent loss in just reducing a product in size. We took the time to go back to the beginning and design a product that was a concentration of, not a reduction of, the original. – Jony Ive

These are my big considerations on whether to get this little iPad mini:

  1. The size, thinness and lightness. Everything I liked about the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 will be even better on the mini. It will be easier to hold while I’m using it. It won’t have to be propped up and accommodated to get into a comfortable position. It will be cute and lovable. It will be fun.
  2. It doesn’t have a retina display. I love my iPhone 5, iPad 3 and MacBook Pro retina displays. Firsthand observers who played with the iPad mini yesterday say it is noticeably not a retina display. The word disappointed was mentioned even though further comments emphasized that the screen is very good and better than the iPad 2 screen which is good. I hope the greatly reduced size and weight is more than a fair trade for losing retina. Even for someone spoiled by other retina devices. Retina is high priced in terms of size and weight (you need more batteries).
  3. It’s expensive especially when compared to the Kindle HD 7 and Nexus 7. The comparable Nexus 7 is $249. You have to pay an extra $79 to get the better hardware (but not better screen) and app ecosystem. That hurts. On the other hand, you know very well that $79 doesn’t go far and your time has value. If this tool works for you, do you want the best in class tool or one of the cheaper, economy tools?
  4. It’s a cheap iPad. I paid $359 for my Kindle 2, so this is an amazing bargain in a lot of ways. This is going to be great if you don’t have an iPad yet. It’s $170 cheaper than the iPad 4 retina.
  5. Should you have both a mini and a regular, though? That’s my question. How many devices can you use? This may just be a the right tool for the job situation. I know that my iPad 3 is great when I’m sitting up in bed with my knees up. It’s great on a table with my Logitech keyboard cover when typing. When I need room for whatever reason, that bigger canvas will still be preferable. But when those situations aren’t there and I want easy and light, like for reading which is my highest percentage use, the truly pad-sized, iPad mini will be great! The iPad mini will be a lighter adjunct to my laptop when I need to bring it along with me.

One thing I consider when indulging in more than one iPad or other tablet device like the Kindle or Nexus 7 is that we are moving away from paper. As we do so, we will need digital paper devices of different sizes just as paper pads and notebooks come in a variety of sizes. We don’t limit ourselves to one size of paper pad but use many sizes. The full-sized iPad may be your perfect size, especially if you are a fairly large-sized human. Women, normal to small-sized men and children will really love the iPad mini’s smaller, lighter, more portable form factor.

One last thought. The iPad mini will certainly get a retina display in a future update. Just as the Macbook Airs will get retina. But, the extra size, weight and processing requirements of the retina display are tradeoffs that these diminutive devices cannot yet abide.

Related post: Nexus 7 vs. Kindle Fire 2 vs. iPad mini updated Oct 23 2012.

Other good posts on iPad mini:
eReader Joy: New: iPad Mini.
Josh Topolsky, the Verge: Apple iPad mini Hands On
iPhone J.D.: Why Lawyers will love the 4th gen iPad and iPad mini
James Kendrick: iPad mini: Why I’m buying one as soon as possible

The iPad mini is going to be so cool

iMore’s iPad mini concept by John Anastasiadis from last week, says it well.

I bought a Nexus 7 a couple months ago and it has just whetted my appetite for the real thing — an iPad mini. Even though the Nexus 7 is the best tablet for Android, it doesn’t quite cut it for someone who uses a Mac and has or has had an iPhone or iPad. If I were a big Gmail fan and strongly preferred Chrome over Safari and a few other things like that, I might be happy on an Android device, but I’m not.

The apps are better on iOS. No argument there. App quality on a glass slab is a big deal. If you only use the most basic apps plus games, it doesn’t matter as much. But, I’m an independent knowledge professional living by my wits and I need the best apps available full stop.

With that disclaimer, let’s get down to why I’m so excited about an iPad mini which I fully expect to be available sometime in October (or possibly even September).

Size matters. This time in a reverse direction. This argument also applies to the iPhone relative to the big iPad. If you can get the job done on a less expensive, smaller, lighter, more portable device, do it. With the addition of the iPad mini, we will have three sizes to choose from. That might seem like a lot but look at notebooks in the paper world. There are tiny notebooks the size of an iPhone, lots of them the size of an iPad mini and other larger ones including many that are 8-1/2 x 11 — letter-sized. People have been carrying these around for centuries. As paper really does fade back into a special-circumstance material, we need devices of different sizes that come with unlimited pages.

Size matters for Creativity. Now here’s the reverse of this notion. A bigger work area helps you when you are trying to wrestle a creative challenge to the ground. It would actually help to be surrounded with 4 walls of screen even to get the full immersion that is like a murder room for a murder investigation. Same creative challenges. So, the iPad mini will be smaller than the iPad we’ve come to know. That will be a limitation for some things. Keep in mind, though, that we already have AirPlay to throw your iPad screen up on a TV screen. There will be more and more that kind of thing going on. Screens keep getting bigger and cheaper.

But it’s the notebook (Device) you have with you that matters. Just like the camera you have with you. A lot of people, even me sometimes, don’t carry their iPads everywhere they go. They keep them at home – which is a great place for the iPad but it is a shame that they are often left there to sit.

The iPad mini is going to be easier to hold one-handed for all kinds of reading which we know is job 1 for most iPads. How many times do you use your iPhone to read even when an iPad is available? I use my iPhone a lot for reading while standing around, when it is handiest and in bed. I’m betting I will choose the iPad mini a lot more often than my big iPad when it comes to both creation and consumption just due to its nice size and weight. The big iPad will be like Steve Jobs’ truck to a car analogy when compared to the iPad mini.

The iPad mini will be easier to take with you:

  • It will fit in pockets — not all pockets but percentage-wise, way more pockets than the 10″ iPad can fit in. Cargo pants might work well with the mini.
  • It will fit in purses. Yes, big purses are popular but there are many women (and men) who carry something smaller — too small for the 10″ iPad to fit comfortably.

It’s Cheaper. Vast quantities of rumors are out there right now and the consensus is that the base model iPad mini will cost somewhere between $199 and $299. That’s a country mile from $499 and means that many more people will be able to buy these iPads – all those students and underpaid knowledge professionals doing good work that doesn’t happen to pay well. All those younger family members who might also be smaller and more mini-sized anyway. All those kids and adults in developing countries where incomes are lower than in the US.