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iPad Air diary, day 0: The surprised iPad mini user

Jason Snell | Nov. 4, 2013
Jason Snell prepares for the arrival of the iPad Air with a description of how he left the full-sized iPad fold for the tiny clutches for the iPad mini.

Ever since Apple's mid-October announcement, there have been two hot topics of discussion among those who watch Apple carefully: First, can the iPad replace your laptop? And second, can the iPad Air replace the iPad mini, or vice versa?

That first question is something we've been grappling with--particularly with regard to getting real work done—ever since the very first iPad arrived on the scene. Since day one, the iPad has been a fine Mac-replacement for many people; with every improvement to iPad hardware and software, more join that list. But the iPad still can't do everything a laptop can. For example, I still can't use the tablet to record and edit the multi-track podcast I produce every week--but I'm sure the day will come when I can. That debate will continue for some time, I'm sure.

The second topic, though, is of more immediate interest. On November 1, the iPad Air arrives; "later in November" the Retina version of the iPad mini will follow. The full-size iPad's main advantages over the iPad mini have been its Retina display and faster processor; the iPad mini's advantages were its small size and light weight. Now the iPad Air is substantially smaller and lighter, and the iPad mini is fast and has a Retina display. Stalemate!

Those are some of the issues I'll be thinking about when I pick up my iPad Air the day it's released and begin working on my Macworld review. I'm hoping to also file a few shorter dispatches as I use it, answering any questions readers have here in this article's comment thread or out on Twitter). But before I set out on that journey, I want to give a little background about how I've been using the iPad, before the advent of the Air and Retina mini.

iPad mini surprise
When the iPad mini came out last fall, I fully expected to try one for a few days and then pass it on to my colleagues, and return to my full-sized Retina iPad. But, much to my surprise, that hand-off never happened. The mini's light weight and small size won me over.

But switching to the iPad mini did change the way I used the tablet in general. Specifically, I don't write on my iPad mini the way I did on my full-sized iPad. The main reason: It's harder for me to type on the smaller on-screen keyboard. I still read email and websites and read and post to Twitter. (I actually enjoy reading on the smaller iPad more because it's smaller, with one exception: comics, for which I still prefer the full-size iPad screen.) But I'm much more reluctant to type on the mini.


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