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(Archived) iPad Air vs iPad Mini vs iPad Mini w/ Retina

Dan Tappin

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I am new to Evernote and Penultimate.  I have a first gen iPad and plan to upgrade.  I plan to use my new iPad to take meeting notes etc. and possibly some sketches.  I am impressed with Penultimate already just using it on my current iPad and only my finger to test it out.


Can anyone comment or voice an opinion on using a Mini for taking notes?  I love the idea of the size of the mini but worried that it's too small to be practical.  I have also seen a comment that it's actually better for notes because it's so small.


I know there will be no right answer here just opinions :^)


Also does the Retina display gain you anything with Penultimate?


Considering the Jot Script but may hold off until the bugs are worked out.  Any recommendations for an economical starter stylus?




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My opinion would be that the iPad Air is better for taking notes, the Mini as an ebook reader. I like a bit more space when taking notes. Personally, I own the iPad Air. It didn't even cross my mind to wait for the new Mini. I'm not sure that the retina display would make that much difference for note taking but I don't think I'd buy an iPad without out it at this point. If you haven't already, I'd suggest you go to your local Apple Store and play with both. 


The stylus I've been using for quite some time is the Adonit Jot Pro. I think it's $30 on Amazon. 


Best of luck. 

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I owned an iPad mini and loved it for over a year. I did find myself enlarging the screen or double tapping to read news blogs etc. It was light and convenient. I then bought an iPad Air and on balance prefer the Air as a work tool and general portable computer replacement. The larger screen is a definite plus and while only a few inches bigger than the Mini it is so much easier to work from and read. I have started using Penultimate since buying the iPad Air and find it an excellent companion to Evernote. I have been a Livescribe user for a several years too but I like the instantaneous syncing between my iPad, my iPhone and my MacBook using Evernote/Penultimate. I found little app called Memo that lets me write on the iPhone and export to Evernote since Penultimate doesn't work on the iPhone - though notes written in it can be viewed on the iPhone through Evernote which is fine. Penultimate and scribbling on the iPad cannot replace a heavy note taking session (I'm a barrister/lawyer by trade) but the ease of having the iPad when I don't need to record meetings makes it my tool of choice. For trials (with no recordings allowed) and conferences (recordings with permission) Livescribe is better.

I have compared the iPad Air to the new Mini with retina display. The iPad Air is better. The colours are richer and the screen brighter. This is noticeable notwithstanding the hype that they are the same and indeed, not that I understand the technology completely, the increase in pixels on the Mini over the Air does not make it any better. Also the speaker on the Air is much better than the Mini. The latter sounds slightly tinny and like any small speaker unit such as the iPhone. The Air while no Bose system sounds richer. If I was going to watch film and television the iPad Air is much better, aside from having the bigger screen.

Obviously for writing notes on, the Air is much easier since is small notepad size (say A5) whereas the Mini is more pocketbook (more for jotting short notes than writing at length).

I bought the all in one cover that Apple sell for the Air (and Min). I find it better than previous ones as the top cover doesn't fall off as it is attached to the base cover and not attached to the iPad by magnets (albeit stronger than most after market covers I've tried). While the Air is clearly not as small as the Mini, in practice it is quite luggable in one hand. I find the larger built in keyboard easier to use for any length of typing (assuming you don't use a bluetooth keyboard) and I can still thumb and finger type when holding the left and right edges. The cover folds underneath to create a small triangle that lifts the back up (landscape mode) and typing on my lap or desk is easy. For note taking in Penultimate I can work landscape too. Or turn it round to portrait like a regular notebook.

So compared to my Mini and the new Mini Retina, the new iPad Air has better functionality and I don't mind the trade off for the relatively slight increase in size and weight. And if you factor in picture and sound quality the Air is noticeably better.

Hope this helps! Enjoy whichever you buy.

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