Sam Holstein

The iPad Mini Is the Best Thing I’ve Bought All Year

The iPad Mini Is the Best Thing I’ve Bought All Year

Product reviews of new products can feel boring — especially if they’re an Apple product. It’s gotten to the point where I see new Apple product announcements, and I think nothing because I don’t care. But Apple announced the new iPad mini, and a quiet voice in my head said, Give this one a shot.

I did. I’m thrilled I did because this thing is absolutely awesome.

At first glance, it seems like just another tablet. I didn’t feel excited about buying or unboxing it. Wow, another gadget. Little did I know it would immediately fall into place in my life like it should have been there all along.

Reading More and Better

My kindle oasis is my favorite reading gadget. But it can only display ebooks in particular formats. They need to be downloaded directly from the Amazon store or manually imported via email importing or, god forbid, connecting it to my computer using a cable. Reading a PDF or anything from the internet is out of the question.

This is a shame because there’s a lot of great stuff on the internet to read. My phone is tiny, so my only option when I want to read has been to read on my laptop, which I’ve done, but not very much. It’s far from comfortable.

The iPad mini solves this problem. Now that I have a reader-sized tablet, I’m finding I’m reading these things much more. I’m reading articles every day, and I may even start following the news regularly, as long as I’m careful to stick with well-researched, balanced treatments of subject matter.

New Creative Inspiration

When I bought the iPad, I wasn’t expecting to use it for writing. My system of speed-typing articles was working well for me. But the iPad mini changed the way I write stories a bit.

For a few weeks now, I’ve been experimenting with Apple’s voice dictation keyboard key on my M1 MacBook (which I love, by the way) to write. I’ve been lying in bed and dictating articles. It’s been surprisingly fun. When I got the iPad mini, dictating articles lying in bed became that much easier.

Even better, apple’s handwriting recognition makes it possible to use an Apple Pencil to write directly on the screen in the Medium app. Typically I type articles, not write them by hand, but writing this article by hand is turning surprisingly soothing.

Another thing I’ve noticed is it’s great for my creativity. For weeks now, I’ve felt uninspired. Every time I sat down to write, there was nothing l wanted to write about. It wasn’t writer’s block. I had plenty of ideas. It was just that none of the ideas l had felt worth writing about. Even worse, these days, I’m increasingly feeling embarrassed and unqualified… I’m a deeply flawed human. Who am l to teach people about better ways to live?

Of all things, the iPad mini is helping me with this. Sitting down and playing around on it allows me to explore ideas in a more fun and freehand way, resulting in me writing more.

Relaxing and Having Fun

One thing I’ve found myself doing a lot of since getting the iPad mini is playing chess. For months now, I’ve wanted to take playing chess more seriously, but for some reason, it hasn’t stuck. Now that l have the mini, I’m playing lots of chess. I’m still not any good, but at least I’m having a good time.

The iPad mini has also gotten me back into painting. Painting with the iPad mini is so easy — pick up Apple Pencil, open ProCreate, go. Now I paint to pass the time in long zoom calls (yes, I’m a doodler).

There’s more the iPad mini can do that I don’t make use of. There are many video games available for the iPad, including triple-A titles like Civilization VI and Call of Duty. I’m interested in the wealth of calming and relaxing iPad games that exist.

Accessories & Peripherals

The iPad mini is pretty cool on its own. But my experience with the iPad mini is assisted by a few indispensable accessories.

Note: This section contains affiliate links. But I didn’t write it just because I wanted to add affiliate links. I’m recommending these products because they truly are indispensable (at least, in my opinion).

Apple Pencil, 2nd Generation ($129): Handwriting articles and doodling during long zoom calls wouldn’t be possible without the Apple Pencil. There are other styluses available for the iPad, I’m sure, but I assume they don’t have the compatibility and pressure sensitivity of the Apple Pencil. I’m willing to pay a premium for that.

Matte Screen Protector ($13): One of my first purchases for my iPad mini is a matte, anti-glare textured screen protector. It protects my screen from damage, of course, which is cool. But it also cuts glare from sunlight, meaning I can read on my iPad in the backyard, outside at a coffee shop, or a local park. In addition, the textured aspect gives my screen the texture of paper. The iPad mini screen is slick and glassy, and the Apple Pencil doesn’t always get traction. The textured screen protector gives the screen the texture of paper, making it easier and more enjoyable to use for handwriting and painting.

Case with Folding Cover ($13): I’m rough on my possessions. I try not to be, but I am. For me to own a nice piece of technology without a tough case on it would be insanity. I invested in an iPad mini case that covers the entire front, back, sides, and corners of the device.

I’m considering buying a gamepad to play video games on my iPad, but that purchase will come later (if it ever does).

In Conclusion

Going into Best Buy to buy this iPad mini, I was feeling unsure. It’s just another Apple product. It’s just a tablet. Would I use it that much? Will it make a difference in my life that justifies the price tag?

After a mere week of using it, I can confidently answer yes. I’ve used it for hours every day. It’s gotten me away from my desk and my laptop and reading new things. It’s given me a way to take notes and distract myself during work meetings. It’s enabled me to pursue hobbies I’ve neglected.