A Look at the iPad Mini

Are you excited about the iPad mini? You definitely should be! There’s a lot to love about this little tablet, but there’s also a few things that could have been better. Some tech fans, even long time Apple fans even, have commented that the iPad mini could have really hit it out of the park. Instead, it felt like Apple traded on their brand… and the rabid fanworship they’ve gotten when it comes to all of their previous products.

Still, we wanted to cover the iPad Mini while it’s still hot, so on with the review. You be the judge!

The first thing that you have to realize is that the iPad Mini is 7.9 inches, and fits nicely in the hand. This is a smaller iPad, but it has its own merits. It’s not just going to be the 10 incher scrunched down. You actually get a nice viewing experience.

Right from the start, the iPad mini looks good. Early adopters noted that it feels more like the iPod touch than a scaled down iPad, which can be a good thing when you think about it.

The decrease in weight definitely matters. The Wi-Fi only iPad mini is 308 grams — literally 0.68 pounds. That’s roughly half the weight of the newest iPad. It’s also very thin, at about 7.2mm and measuring 200 x 135mm. You’re getting a 1024×768 resolution, which means that everything is easy to read.

The layout of the navigation is solid. You have the volume and orientation lock switches on the upper part of the right side. There’s also up and down buttons, which is different than the controls on the iPad.


If you’re worried about sound after seeing those two rows of holes to let the device’s sound out, don’t worry — you have plenty of good sound here. It’s not like you’re going to be able to replicate your local home theater system, but there’s nothing wrong with getting something that you can really use on the go. That’s the entire point of the iPad mini, isn’t it?

Keep in mind that when it comes to the display on the Mini, you’re not getting Apple’s signature retina display. There is a nice pixel density here of 163ppi, but it might not be enough to satisfy you if you were hoping for super eye-catching color. Text isn’t as sharp either, but it’s not like everything is going to be a complete blur.

Let’s move on to performance and a little bit about that all important statistic, battery life. Under the hood, you’re getting a dual-core 1Ghz CPU with 512MB of RAM, which is what you got in the iPad 2 as well.

Battery life can be a toss-up — generally around 12-13 hours under normal operating conditions. Obviously, this would mean that you’re turning on Wi-Fi while using the device. If you can live without battery draining Wi-Fi, then you’re going to have a longer standby than you would normally have. We like to quote real world battery life figures from actual use, which usually means Wi-Fi and camera usage.

Speaking of camera usage, the iPad mini has a modest set of cameras. You’re going to get a 5 megapixel camera in the back with a nice f/2.4 lens. There’s a 1.2MP FaceTime HD camera on the front, which lends itself well to video conferencing needs. Skype and FaceTime, anyone?

You’re not getting an 8MP camera like with the iPhone 5, but this shouldn’t really take you by surprise by now. This isn’t the iPhone. It’s not the big iPad. It’s something that was designed for the form factor to wow you. There might be some let downs here, but that’s just part of the process, really. No device is going to be everything to everyone.

There have been some obvious comparisons made between the mini and the Nexus 7, but the two devices aren’t in the same league. The Nexus was designed to be a budget device. As you might have guessed, Apple really doesn’t do budget. They handle other things, like giving you some high quality features to drool over. Even though you didn’t get a Retina display, there are little details that definitely show that Apple is thinking about people’s needs in a much more expansive way.

Unfortunately, the greater tech population at large has Apple on a pedestal, which means that any launch is going to leave more than a few people disappointed. That’s the name of the game. If you can handle a smaller form factor along with a little less display, you’re going to have a winning device.

Still, if you need more screen real estate, then the new iPad will probably be more or less your speed. We hope this review helps — enjoy!

5 useful productivity and task management apps for the iPad and iPhone

The iPad and iPhone 4 are the most popular mobile devices on the market – there’s no doubt about it, and it’s actually impressive how they still hold their own against the hordes of new Android devices that outdo them in the specs department.

But the secret is simple, really: iOS 4, the operating system powering them, is very effective at using resources, and not only is it very flexible and functional, but also extremely easy to use – if you’ve tried to use an iPhone 4 and an Android or even Windows Phone 7 smartphone the first time, you’ll know what I’m talking about – iOS is so intuitive that you can start working the exact moment you get it in your hands.

While at first, the first iPhone and iPad was meant more for the consumer market, the apps revolution has made it possible to use it for business tasks as well, without any issues or problems. Business users, professionals and productive individuals alike can easily use it to manage their work, time and life, replacing the usual bunch of notebooks and computer software meant for the purpose.

So, here are just a few of the best productivity and task management apps for the iPhone and iPad devices:

Documents to Go:

If you need to view and/or edit documents on the go, you should know that it’s very easy to do it on the iPad or iPhone – all you need is the right app! Documents to Go is one of the best office apps for iOS, and you can use it to view PDF, DOC, XLS, TXT, PPT and many other file formats that are usually used everywhere. You can even open unrecognized files, if they contain text or images!

Skype:

Skype has had their application approved on the iTunes market after a pretty long waiting period, during which Apple declined it for various reasons, that’s why iPhone and iPad users started to enjoy it only recently. Of course, you must be familiar with it – it’s the best app for VoIP calls and messages – all securely encrypted and cheaper than any other landline or cellphone company offer around. I hope that Microsoft acquiring Skype will not stop them from updating and improving the iOS (and Android) versions and Apple will not remove it from the market.

Evernote:

Taking notes is one of the best ways to save ideas and thoughts when you have them for later review. Evernote is the best app for this purpose: it allows you to save text, images, photos, site bookmarks, video and audio recordings as notes and view or edit them later (with reminders and all). The best thing about it is that you get an online account that stores a copy of everything, so you never lose your information even if you lose your phone, and can easily access it from your Mac, PC or Android phone.

ReQall

ReQall is a great To Do list and task manager, which allows you to manage your daily/weekly/monthly schedule with ease and never lose a meeting or important task, thanks to the extensive reminders system. Just enter the task and description, attach any important files or bookmarks, and let ReQall take care of reminding you when things need to get done.

The iWork Suite

Although it’s only for the iPad, the iWork suite from Apple is totally worth the asking price. It is Apple’s own collection of apps for document editing, and contains Pages, Numbers and Keynote, all of which are simply amazing – you can see from the start that these apps were made by professionals. You can create documents, spreadsheets and presentations quickly and easily with these apps, and then output them to a printer, projector or simply save them wherever you want. The suite is a must have if you can afford it!

Sure enough, the iTunes market has a lot of other great apps, but if you’re new to Apple products, I recommend starting with the above apps, and then browsing the market for others if they don’t fit your needs.

5 beautiful 3D games for the iPad 2

The iPad 2 is finally out and it’s selling even better than its predecessor – in its debut weekend, over 1 million units were sold, with a pretty amazing total of 2.5 million units in March – if that’s not impressive, I don’t know what is.

But the owners of the new iPad quickly realized that despite it looking great with the slim design and having a ton of processing power, there wasn’t much they could do to actually use its full potential. Thankfully, most developers reacted quickly and have already updated their apps to take advantage of the new hardware. And what better way to test a computer (be it a laptop or tablet) than a few 3D games that will fully load the processor and graphics adapter?

With that in mind, here are some of the best 3D games for the iPad 2 with beautiful graphics that rival those of dedicated console games:

Prince of Persia:

Warrior Within HD. The Prince of Persia series is one of the most popular for gaming consoles and PCs, and now you can also have the full experience on the move, right on your iPad, as well! The game is great – gameplay, story, in-game physics, sound and video quality are all excellent, and you can play the 12 chapters for hours at end – it just immerses you into the ancient world of Persia, its warriors and environments.

Need for Speed Shift:

Need for Speed Shift is one of the best looking games for the iPad. It also has pretty good in-game physics for a race simulator, and the number of cars and tracks makes it very enjoyable to play. If you’re a racing games fan or have been playing the Need for Speed series for PC and consoles, this is simply a must have both on your iPad 2 and iPhone 4!

Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance (NOVA):

NOVA is an amazing game, especially when you take into consideration that First Person Shooters were not available at all on touch screen devices just a year ago. The graphics quality, story, gameplay and sound are all at a very high level – this game can easily be used as a model for any other FPS that come out, it’s just that good!

Tom Clancy’s HAWX:

If you like planes more than cars and always wanted to have a decent flight simulator on your iPad, this is the game for you! HAWX is excellent in every important area: it has great graphics, excellent simulation physics, superb controls using the accelerometer and on screen buttons to control the plane and most importantly, it features realistic 3D models of the most popular planes and gives you a wide number of missions to accomplish.

FIFA 11:

Just like Madden NFL is the best game out there for American football fans, so is FIFA (made by the same company, EA) the best soccer game for PCs, dedicated consoles and of course, the iPhone and iPad devices. The latest version has been optimized to take full advantage of the dual core power in the iPad 2, so now you have better graphics, sound and physics than before. Run simulations and see how soccer matches could’ve gone differently if players made different decisions – anywhere, anytime on your iPad 2. Obviously, all these capabilities come at a cost: FIFA 11 uses a whopping 1.24 GB on your iPad, but you should still be able to install it without problems even on the cheapest version.

There are a lot of other great games for the new iPad 2 on the marketplace, and if you’re the lucky owner of one of these devices, you should definitely head over to the iTunes store and take a look at the offers – of course, you should try the above games, as well!