Once more with feeling: Yes I can work with the iPad mini

Once more with feeling: Yes I can work with the iPad mini

Summary: I use a lot of different devices productively, and it's not unusual to hear that a particular gadget I use is not the best for that. Mentioning the iPad mini as a productivity tool sets some folks over the edge.

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TOPICS: Mobility, iPad, Tablets
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ZAGGkeys Cover with iPad mini -- Image credit: James Kendrick/ ZDNet

//Rant mode on

I get it. There are a lot of folks out there who refuse to believe that the iPad, and especially the iPad mini, can be used productively. Every review of a keyboard for the iPad or the iPad mini I write guarantees responses for months that the tablets from Apple can't be used for real work.

I understand that many don't want to use iPads of any kind for production. I'm fine with that. I am used to hearing repeatedly that they are mere toys and thus not capable of being used for work. I know that there is often a knee-jerk reaction to the very thought that iPads can help some of us to get things done.

See related: Two keyboard cases for iPad mini from ZAGG change the game | Logitech Keyboard Folio mini for iPad mini: Small case, big keys (hands on) | Definitive guide to keyboards for iPad and iPad mini (Spring 2013)

What I never get used to is the statement I hear all the time that I cannot use an iPad/iPad mini for my work. Yes, even articles I write explaining how I use them for such work are met by some with exclamations that I cannot actually use them that way.

Using an iPad/iPad mini productively might not work for you, but don't tell me it can't work for me. It makes no sense to deny what I do or how I do it.

I'm not sure why the thought of using iPads for production sets some people off, but it does, every single time. As if reading about it isn't clear enough, a recent incident in a coffee shop blew my mind.

I was sitting at a tiny table using the iPad mini with the ZAGGkeys Cover I recently reviewed. I was writing as I always do, touch typing at a good clip. A guy approached me and watched me using the iPad mini for a bit and then asserted that what I was using just couldn't work.

I sat back considering how to respond to that when he repeated that the iPad mini with such a small keyboard could not be used productively. Without saying a word I resumed writing without missing a beat to show him that I could indeed work productively with the setup in front of me.

He watched me for a couple of minutes and then left, muttering that no matter what I "said," the iPad mini cannot be used for work purposes.

I was blown away. He watched me using the iPad mini productively, yet he still couldn't admit that it could be done. Unlike the comments claiming the same in reaction to my articles detailing how I do this, that same reaction by someone actually watching it in practice was surreal.

Most of the people who refuse to believe I can get work done with an iPad or iPad mini are likely folks who don't like the tablets from Apple. That's OK, they're not for everyone. But that doesn't explain why so many refuse to believe that I can use them for my writing. It's as if they think the earth will shift off its axis if they admit they can be used productively.

I am the first to admit that using a bigger system is better. When I head out for a long work day I usually bring a laptop with me. I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of my new MacBook Air, as a matter of fact. For shorter work days, I may throw the iPad with keyboard in my little gear bag.

I carry the iPad mini in a little keyboard case when I head out and don't plan on working. The tablet is so small it's easy to carry and comes in handy when an unexpected writing opportunity comes along. It's nice to have it if I need it, and that's it. It came in handy for writing this article while this whole thing was fresh in my mind.

To be clear, I am not nor have I ever suggested that others should do what I do with the iPad/iPad mini. I use them occasionally because they work so well for me. They might not work for you, but don't tell me they can't work for me either. It makes no sense to deny what I do or how I do it.

And don't tell me that your HP, Dell, Apple, Surface Pro, or other laptop would be better for this. They might be better for you but they aren't for me, as I have proven time and time again. I have four laptops at home but the best tool for the job is the one I have with me.

//Rant mode off

Topics: Mobility, iPad, Tablets

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106 comments
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  • Won't Fit In Your Pants Pocket, Though

    A 7-incher like the Asus Nexus 7 is more convenient for computing-on-the-go.

    Hmmm ... is that why the Nexus 7 has GPS, while the Apple tablet doesn't?
    ldo17
    • WiFi with no Network?

      Personally, I don't find GPS that useful when on the go without network (on my WiFi only Nexus 7.)

      I am an Android user with both a Nexus 7 and the Hisense Sero 7 Pro that has HDMI and SD. These are features that the Nexus 7 NEEDs for my uses (and why I'm selling mine.)

      The iPad Mini has something that is desperately want in an Android tablet: an 8" form factor in 4:3 aspect ratio. I don't need a media consumption device and 4:3 format is so much more usable than 16:9 in landscape usage to get real work done. You get more lines of landscape text, etc.

      That being said, the work I need to do requires tools that Apple doesn't allow on iOS. Access to WiFi for Access Point searching, various networking tools, etc. For most people doing work means email, documents, etc. Both Android and iPad will work. Saying either won't is 90% being a platform bigot. Which I understand, because iOS still annoys me to use...

      No one can honestly say that there is a keyboard and tablet combo in the 7-8" size that is as nice as the iPad Mini offering.
      sacherjj
      • Re: Access to WiFi for Access Point searching

        By the way, as my work sometimes requires similar tools... there is such software for iOS, which includes not only the iPad, but the much more compact iPhone and iPod Touch.

        In reality, iOS is not as restricted as some try to portray it. It is just more... strict.
        danbi
        • Half-a-job-danbi (again)

          Help the fella out - name and shame these fantastic apps for IOS.

          It won't help me but I'm sure it will many others. C+ for effort danbi.
          Little Old Man
          • unlike many of you

            I don't claim my choice of tools is the best ever. The iOS App Store has search function. One can use it. Heck, one can even do a Google search on "iOS wifi tools" and find plenty (Google even provides ratings). Whatever the guy needs is what they will use. They might even discover that their favorite Android tool is available on iOS too.

            I am also not as arrogant to teach people like you, an old man anything. I have respect for elders. It is their choice to be ignorant. ;)
            danbi
    • Really?

      iPad Mini w/4G has GPS. I've had both an iPad Mini and Nexus 7, and guess what... a WiFi only Nexus 7 with GPS doesn't do a whole lot of good unless you take the time to make sure you have all of the maps pre loaded.
      manringj
      • unless

        You have a nexus phone and you turn on tethering...
        jivester
        • Of course you can

          If I had my Nexus 4 with me and had to use maps with GPS, I'd probably just use it rather than turning on tethering and then using essentially the same device with a little bit bigger screen to do the same thing.
          manringj
        • Of course, you can turn tethering on with an iPhone too

          No difference.
          Vulpinemac
      • Re: iPad Mini w/4G has GPS

        That takes the price from 50% greater than the Nexus 7 to ... not even in the same league as the Nexus 7.
        ldo17
        • Same league

          You're right. The Nexus 7 isn't in the same league.
          manringj
      • offline GPS apps

        You could just use offline GPS apps.
        You don't have that option with any ipad wifi version.
        warboat
      • Zero Effort

        "a WiFi only Nexus 7 with GPS doesn't do a whole lot of good unless you take the time to make sure you have all of the maps pre loaded." while not taking zero effort, it didn't take much more for me to download the maps for regions I visit most often. If I go somewhere I haven't been, it's pretty simple to plan in advance and download the maps.
        DJL64
    • Don't know about yours

      But my two iPads do have GPS. And cellular as well. Works *everywhere*.
      danbi
      • Re: But my two iPads do have GPS

        So, instead of buying the one that's 50% more expensive than the Nexus 7, you bought the one that is ... not in the same league as the Nexus 7.
        ldo17
    • Which pants pocket? I wouldn't put any device in my back pocket...

      you wouldn't believe how many Nintendo Game Boys I repaired due to broken screens for exactly that reason.
      I also wouldn't put it in my front pocket for much the same reason; I wouldn't be sitting on it, but that pocket gets bent when you sit down and will certainly bend anything else in that pocket unless it's very, very hard.
      On the other hand, the thigh pocket of cargo pants are a great size for any 7" tablet and usually won't stress the case unless you happen to have huge thighs (Musclebuilder, etc.).

      And who says the Apple tablet doesn't have GPS? So far I haven't had any difficulties navigating using mine as a GPS.
      Vulpinemac
      • Re: I also wouldn't put it in my front pocket

        Front pocket is fine. I've carried around my Nexus 7 that way several times, walking, standing and sitting, perfectly comfortably.
        ldo17
        • +2 front pockets

          I often put my Nexus 7 and my Galaxy Note in the same front pocket of my not-cargo pants.
          it's getting tight but comfortable to sit and walk with it in my pocket.
          I tried to fit a Note 8 in there by itself and it JUST fits but looks like I'm putting a bit of force on the screen when walking.
          warboat
  • There are none so blind as those who will not see.

    The "REAL work" myth will live forever, James. Illegitimi non carborundum. :)
    Userama
  • Typical.....

    If it's an AAPL, people will dump on it. Plain & simple. I have one of the original 64MB iPads w/3G which I used for business for a few years prior to retirement. I stopped taking my company issued laptop with me and did all of my work on it. Loved it. Being in sales, my work on it consisted of email, reading & editing word docs, modifying and issuing quotations to customers on spreadsheets, & performing on site customer presentations. The ONLY thing I could not do with it was to submit my expense voucher because it was a proprietor application that ran on my work laptop.

    Anybody who insists that productive work cannot be accomplished on an iPad is not only misinformed but is simply showing their bias. They "think" that productive work cannot be done on it, nothing more. To them, even seeing it with their own eyes won't convince them because it simply offends their sensibilities that there are quicker & easier ways to work than to have to drag your laptop around with you all of the time.
    techno_bob