The iPad Mini: Two Weeks of (First World) Suffering with an Adult Toy

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I had to get an iPad for a startup I’m working with.  Despite my tireless dedication to their cause, I also tried to squeeze some pleasure from this adult toy. Like finding a Porsche on Gilligan’s Island, this sexy slab of tech taunted me – daring me to figure out why I needed it.  I learned that I didn’t, but got a firsthand glimpse into first world suffering. A condition no amount of inspirational Facebook posts can cure.  So here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly of it all:

The Good

  1. I love the podcasting app. It’s smart, intuitive and syncs your subscriptions with iTunes.
  2. The camera, despite no flash, is decent. But you will look like a tool whipping out this monster to take a photo, unless you’re at the 2013 Oversized Camera Convention in Vegas. Stick to your phone or camera, unless you don’t mind sleeping alone.
  3. Skype works great, so does Talkatone voice calling.
  4. It’s decent for reading news on Feedly and Flipboard.
  5. The couple of games I tried, worked well, but on-screen controls are limiting. Also, be prepared to pay. Most of the free games are “fronts” (like a mob-owned laundromat) for impoverishing your family with small purchases of fake coins for fake military equipment that might someday cost you your real job.
  6. Battery life is excellent.

The Bad

  1. Any kind of typing or content creation is clunky and inconvenient. It would be easier to ink your next blog post on looseleaf paper and mail it to India for transcription. The screen is too small to keep this thing on your lap and read the tiny text. Holding it in the air feels unnatural and exhausting in the way ditch-digging looks exhausting on Dirty Jobs.
  2. The iPad is too big to be a “personal device”, but Apple’s software treats it that way. You log into all your sites, download all your personal details…then someone wants to borrow it, smudges and all. What do you do? There is no easy way to allow guest users. (I tried every hack, they’re all terrible.)  Bottom line is Apple wants you to buy a separate iPad for every person in your home, including the cat. Great for Apple; crazy stupid for the rest of us. [youtuber youtube=’’]
  3. As a consumption device, the screen is terrible. It’s very low resolution and pixelated like a Palm Pilot from 2005. The Touch screen is not very responsive. Placing the cursor or activating some of the tiny buttons .
  4. There is absolutely no good way to position it to watch movies or Skype on the couch, at a table, or in bed, without buying a separate accessory for each viewing angle.  It would be easier to suspend yourself from the ceiling in a way that’s most convenient for the iPad Mini.
  5. The outer shell is outrageously slippery. Apple badly wants you to drop it so you can buy a new one.  I suggest they stop beating around the bush and cover the iPad Mini 2 with Vaseline, right out of the box.
  6. The Mini is clunky to carry without a bag. Only Shaq has pockets this big. And if I have to carry a bag, I’m bringing a light laptop.
  7. The price of the memory increments is nothing short of insulting. An extra $100 for 16G more RAM??!? That’s like charging $2000 to install a stereo into an $8000 car. It’s a price that screams, “BECAUSE WE CAN!!!” Of course, there’s no memory expansion slot.  The box should snicker when you open it. 
  8. After using an Android phone, I found the selection of utilities on iOS sad and limited. You’re likelier to marry George Clooney than find good file syncing, document editing, or keyboard alternatives.
  9. Social sharing is completely inconsistent. On Android, you can share from any app to any app. Don’t try that in this locked-down, luxury prison colony. Some apps share, some don’t. Others only open in Safari, not Chrome. A mess.
  10. The interface is dated. Returning to a home screen to launch apps reminded me of the Palm Pilot. Four finger gestures are as awkward as they sound.  Often, there was only one finger I felt like using. And, there are no widgets.
  11. Some things, like proper contacts sync, still rely on the slow, bloated iTunes application on your computer. By the way, iTunes has gotten LESS intuitive since I last used it. All the menus are buried in strange places and nothing leads you to where you expect. It’s like reading a Harry Potter book damaged in a library fire.

The Ugly

I see absolutely no reason to have this device. There’s no situation where I could use an iPad instead of a phone or computer and accomplish more. You don’t need a tablet, particularly this one – unless you’re a checkout clerk at the Apple store.

The worst part about the iPad is the fact that it looks so beautiful. Like a Black Widow, it makes you want it – but ultimately bites your head off.  The iPad is more of a digital lobotomy  It lures you into a data binge, much like a Biggest Loser contestant might experience at the Chinese buffet. The iPad Mini’s strength is that it makes you weak.  At the end of all those lost hours ingesting games, articles, and feeding the iTunes slot machine, you’ll only find more hunger.

My advice is: Simplify. Give yourself some space between devices, between virtual meals. First ask,  “What do I want to accomplish today?” Then, “What tools will I need to do it?” The answer will rarely be an iPad.  Regardless, never start with the tool, unless your job demands it!

Better yet, go out and build something. You will be happier.


Yes, some of this was for comedic effect. I know there are specific use cases for iPads. They’re great devices and well built, but they are not needs. They are pure luxury items with addictive properties.  Treat them like alcohol.

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