In a time when every news site and blogger wants to be first out the door with news, having the right equipment is more important than ever.
As a mobile blogger myself and someone who likes to share news, I normally take a mobile phone for tethering use and a Apple MacBook Air.
That was until a month ago anyway.
With the new MacBook catching my eye I decided to sell on my Air and purchase one of the new faster, slimmer, lighter laptops for my computing needs. Then I hit a snag – the 4-6 week waiting time for the new MacBook to even ship out to me, thus leaving me computerless and frustrated.
Thankfully Vodafone stepped in and offered me one of the new iPad Mini 3 tablets they have on sale, complete with data enabled SIM card.
I was finally operational again and able to share content on the go.
This was an interesting test as, whilst the iPad is a great tablet for mobile entertainment, could the iOS replace my needs of a normal computer?
I have tried Chromebooks before and been underwhelmed by the slow processing power, lack of apps such as Skype as well as no video editing possible.
I already had a Bluetooth keyboard case from Zagg which I used on an older model. The newer iPad Mini 3 fitted perfectly, giving me access to faster typing as well as protecting the screen.
Everyone uses their computer differently so this will not be the same results for everyone, but it was an interesting test to see how well mobile tech has moved on recently.
There were some key areas I wanted to test out to see how well the iPad did, these were as follows.
Each area has been broken down below and finally a conclusion how I found the overall experience..
Email was great on the iPad. Using the built-in application all I had to do was enter my email address and password for both my accounts and I was away.
As soon as emails came in they were pushed to the iPad and I was able to deal with attachments as well as text emails.
Quick access to email was vital for what I needed the iPad to do, and it held up well.
Comparing iPad to a computer, I found the iPad faster for loading the basic things but the computer better for attachments due to file management limitations.
Web browsing on the iPad was a great experience thanks to a great web browser in Safari and silky smooth zooming in and out of pages with a pinch move.
The iPad also loaded full sites and not the smaller mobile versions so you get all the web you need.
Flash was a well known feature missing years ago, however the Internet has moved on since then with new formats and these are fine.
Being a tiny tablet does have it’s advantages in this area, the 8.9 inch display is smaller than even the small notebooks that have 11 inch screens.
Having the keyboard case was a real life saver though when it came to using like a laptop, but did not add much size or weight as it was part of the case.
The iPad was definitely more portable than a laptop would be. and lighter too. It was much easier to fit in a backpack and take with you, even when paired with the keyboard case.
This is one area the iPad excelled in, mainly due to the SIM card slot giving me 3G or 4G data on the move. It also had WiFi for home use.
Laptops normally have WiFi but then, for connectivity away from the hotspots, you either need to tether your phone and drain battery or use WiFi or a USB dongle.
Having the SIM in at all times allowed me to be online all the time whatever the situation.
Thanks to a whole range of apps being available on our using services like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, this was really easy.
There are loads of free apps you can use and some that cost but don’t give you anything more.
All apps were designed for landscape mode as well as portrait. This meant when used with the keyboard, it was perfect for keeping updated on the go.
This was something I thought was going to be tricky, and in some ways I was right even though the iMovie application is the best mobile editor there is. The software itself is great, allowing many effects to be used including a voiceover. Very handy in mobile videos.
It also has visual effects and the option to cut out bits not needed and export the results to share. The problem came when needing to get the video files onto the iPad to be edited. Recording from the iPad is fine but quality takes a hit and is awkward to hold.
I recorded videos on my Android phone and had to upload to Google Drive to then open the app on iPad and download the video before editing. With a computer it would be a simple USB cable and iTunes to import, which is much easier.
Blogging on the move can be a tough hobby, especially if you do not have a computer so rely on that smaller screen phone.
I found two different ways of working here, first was the WordPress app available free in the App Store, this let me quickly log in to the site and prepare some posts, however the interface was rather limited and not ideal for formatting images into posts.
Then I tried the normal built in browser to access the posting part of the site.
This worked great and gave me a much more detailed look at my posts and even including images was easy.
I soon found this was my preferred way to post news and did not notice a difference over computer at all
Entertainment is what the iPad was designed for originally. The screen is fantastic, even though this was the smaller model. The Air will be even better but I like smaller devices anyway.
I had access to the iTunes store which has not only applications but a huge offering of movies and music tracks. Whilst I use spotify for my music needs, it was handy having the movie selection.
What I didn’t do was prepare for my latest London trip and iTunes only allows movie downloads over WifFi due to file size. Netflix came to my rescue and allowed me to sit in the hotel room with a drink and stream some video over a mobile connection.
Something I did not use on the iPad, but would be another great form of entertainment, was downloading some games. The App Store has a huge range of games on offer, from sports to action plus puzzle and management titles. Entertainment is something the iPad really handles well and was a joy to use.
During my time with the iPad I found there wasn’t much I couldn’t do that I could on my laptop. This was quite a surprise.
The main area the iOS falls down is the strict Apple file management and not allowing the user access to a system like you have on a computer. This made a few things tricky for day to day tasks that I would normally use a laptop for.
Everything else was more than acceptable once you adjust to using a mobile operating system instead of a full on computer-built one. Social media use and emails were just as good, if not easier on the iPad.
Entertainment was also great here. The well-sized screen with high resolution played YouTube videos as well as iTunes purchased movies with no issues at all.
Video editing was a little tricky on a smaller screen with no mouse to navigate, but the iPad has a great version of iMovie made for it which does a fantastic job.
My video editing skills? For a quick edit of two videos into one – fine. Just don’t expect to use the iPad for more professional content. Overall I was impressed with what the iPad offered me.
I went three weeks using it instead of a computer. At times I almost forgot this was a tablet and not a full personal computer.
Whilst I have decided that the iPad will not cover all my needs, for many people reading this who want a portable machine for multimedia use as well as tasks like email and word processing, the iPad is very capable.
A big thank you to Vodafone for the loan of the iPad so I could get online for a while and see how good it really was.
The iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 are both available on Vodafone contracts right now, for more information and pricing click here.