Wednesday, June 26, 2013

iPad mini: First Impressions

I was lucky enough to have a fair amount of budget left at the end of this school year, so after much thought I ordered two iPad minis! My collection of music program iPads started with two original iPads, donated by my husband and myself when we upgraded to iPad 2's. Since then, I've acquired four iPad 2's and two iPods. Eight iDevices gives me enough for my lower school students to work in pairs (or individually if I split the class in half), and even better ratios for my small middle school classes. However, I've found that the iPods work best for video and audio recording and some virtual instruments, but are frustratingly small for many uses and don't work well with pairs of kids.
So, I thought the iPad minis could be a great addition to my collection, with most of the advantages of the full-sized iPad, but less awkward for video. Not to mention less expensive, so I could afford two! I picked them up on Monday, and so far I'm delighted. Here is one of the minis next to my personal iPad:
The mini fits the same amount of graphics on its screen as the full-sized iPad 2. As a result, everything is a little smaller, but extremely sharp. It's not a great photo, but you can see GarageBand running on the 3 and the mini above. I composed a quick song in GarageBand on the mini, and found it just as comfortable as the full-sized iPad. I'm not a big fan of using GarageBand on the iPod/iPhone, but the mini is big enough that everything felt great. The speaker seemed quieter than my iPad, but I'm not sure as I didn't do a side-by-side comparison. I'm curious to see this Fall if certain things are actually easier on the mini for the little fingers of my lower school students.
Developers don't have to do anything special for their iPad app to run on the mini, so I put all my music apps and a few other educational apps on the minis. I love that I can now go straight into the App Store app, log in, and download my purchased items without having to plug the new device into my Mac. It is frustrating that there is still not a good way to keep devices' apps and home screen organization in sync. It takes a good deal of setup time initially, and a fair amount of upkeep, to keep them all consistent.
Most of my time with the minis so far has just been setting them up and trying GarageBand, since that's one of the apps I use the most with my students. Some of my other favorites--SoundSlate, iSequence, and ThumbJam--also looked and worked great. I was worried that it would be harder to type on the mini, but found that it's small enough for me to two-thumb type like on my iPhone, and large enough to type like an iPad when that's more convenient.
Though the iPad mini features the upgraded camera of the iPad 3 (and it looks great!), it has the processor of the iPad 2. I haven't done enough intense audio work to see if I miss the extra speed I have in my personal iPad 3, but since my other school iPads are 1's and 2's, it certainly shouldn't be a problem for my students.
I can't wait to try these out in the classroom! In the meantime, I'm sure I'll have lots of fun trying them out on my own this summer. :)

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