Holiday Gift Guide 2013: iPad Mini for Kids Edition

This holiday season, a lot of children will be getting iPads or iPad minis for presents. I suspect iPad minis will be the more popular of the two. For those that do get an iPad mini here are a few accessories you might want to get with the mini.

Black Blue V2 Double Layer Kickstand Hard Hybrid Gel Case Cover for iPad Mini

mini case

Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of cases. I think they bulk up a phone or tablet, so I don’t have one on my iPhone or iPad. However, in the case of a young child, I highly recommend a case. You want one that can handle a good drop or bump.

My recommendation is to purchase a “hybrid” case. It isn’t fancy or expensive, but it has a plastic shell on the inside and a rubber outer case. There is ample space between the screen and case from to protect of from a screen first fall. Plus all of the buttons are protected, but easily accessible.

Screen Protectors

Screen protectors are another protection gift you want on a child’s iPad. There are plenty of them out there. Like the case, this does not need anything fancy. If you want to spend $25 on a screen protector go ahead. However, there are plenty of protects for under ten dollars and you can usually get them in a three pack.

iTunes Gift Card


Every child is going to want to dive right into the App Store. An iTunes gift card would be good for this. You can either apply it to your account or make an account for the child and let him or her know the password. Set the account to a minimum limit using parental controls and only allow the child to make purchases with money in the account. If they burn the card on Smurfberries it is their loss, but no charges are made to your credit card.

IPEVO Pad Pillow Stand for the iPad Mini


Another great accessory is the IPEVO Pad Pillow Stand for the iPad Mini. I recommended the larger model last year and this one is just as good. It is made for the iPad Mini, but it even holds a full iPad. It is basically a pillow that holds your iPad. It works great on a lap or the floor or almost any surface. It has multiple configurations and I love it.

Griffin CinemaSeat headrest mount for the iPad Mini


Finally, and following in the footsteps of my previous suggestion, is the CinemaSeat for the iPad Mini, which is a case that straps to almost any headrest in a car. (Last year, I suggested the full sized version of the CinemaSeat). The child sitting behind that headrest now has a screen in front of them to watch shows on as if it was a built-in DVD player, for a lot less money (not counting the iPad). By using the CinemaSeat they aren’t falling asleep while watching the iPad Mini on a long trip and dropping it to the floor as the do so. This works great and couldn’t be easier to use.

Overall, an iPad mini is a great gift. It can be educational and fun at the same time. These gift can help that fun and help make the fun last a little longer by protecting your investment.

Review: My first week with the iPad Mini

Even though I’m an “IT guy,” I’ve never been a believer in “technology for the sake of technology.” Before I buy a device, I have to understand how it’s going to fit in with my life and be sure I’m going to use it. I’ve seen far too many clients become hooked on buying shiny gadgets that never get properly exploited.

As such, it’s taken a very long time to convince myself that I really need an iPad. There’s been one in the house before, as my wife had one as part of her job, so I’ve hardly been blind to their desirability, but with an iPhone and MacBook Pro already in my possession, I needed some strong justification.

It came in the form of my signing up to do a degree course via distance learning. The course requires me to read a lot of online content, which is ergonomically awkward on a laptop and impractical on a smartphone. So I finally had the excuse I needed, and went out and purchased a 32GB iPad Mini.

The White iPad Mini

First Impressions

Let’s face it, nobody’s ever disappointed when they take home a box containing new Apple hardware, and the iPad Mini is no different. However, I didn’t fawn over the sleek silver back for long, as I placed it straight into a protective rear cover and clipped on Apple’s own magnetic cover and stand combo.

How the device worked was obviously no surprise either; we’re essentially talking about a big iPhone that’s not a phone, but I was pleased that I didn’t feel myself badly missing a retina display. However, I did notice (and continue to notice) that the touch control isn’t quite as precise as that on my iPhone. It’s not bad at all, but I do sometimes find it hard to tap small “x” icons, especially when they’re near the top right corner of the screen.

Daily Use

As I said above, I was far more interested to find how the iPad slotted into my life than in investigating every feature available to me. After all, most of the functionality is already available on my iPhone.

The first point to make is that it’s given me a greater sense of separation between my working day and my evening. As I work from home, it’s easy to find myself still on my MacBook as darkness falls, in a strange kind of half work / half play limbo. Now I have the iPad, I’m more likely to close the laptop when the work is done, and switch to the iPad. This is a good thing, as it’s a far more sociable way to use technology.

As part of this, I took the decision not to sync my email accounts and calendars with the iPad, supporting its role as a leisure and study device and not a business device.

Despite the separation, the iPad is such a pleasure to use, it’s kept me up long into the night on a couple of occasions: once simply playing around with apps, including DJ software, games and music tools, and the other reading a recommended text for my university course that I found instantly available to me via iBooks.

I’ve also enjoyed being able to take the Traktor DJ app to a house party, resulting in a usable casual DJ setup, all in a package weighing 308 grams.


I’ll be honest: I really should have splashed out on an iPad sooner. There really is room for another gadget between laptop and smartphone, even if both of the other gadgets can technically fulfill every purpose.

The beauty of the iPad Mini is in its form factor. When we had a full size iPad in the house, I rarely used it for prolonged Web browsing as it simply wasn’t that comfortable. The iPad Mini is perfect in this respect and very pleasing to use, even with just one hand.

If you’re struggling to justify buying an iPad, it’s time to give in. I promise you won’t regret it.

iPad Mini shortages – An “own goal” for Apple?

Liverpool v Fulham - Premier LeagueWhen a new product hits the market, there’s often a shortage. It happened with the Nintendo Wii, the original iPod and with numerous different iPhones.

I’m not here to have a detailed debate as to whether manufacturers should, by now, have brought their supply chains up to speed. I will also limit my speculation as to whether sometimes these shortages are engineered to increase hype and demand.

All I’m going to focus on is that Apple’s Christmas shortage of iPad Minis has had an unexpected effect: I’m no longer sure whether I can be bothered to buy one.

I tried really hard to get an iPad Mini. I had my eye on the “cheap” one, the 16GB WiFi only model – in white if possible, but I would have settled for black. I tried first to find one in the various electronics stores in my home country of Portugal. I didn’t hold out an awful lot of hope of finding one here straight after launch, but I was unconcerned as I was spending time in London before Christmas.

Everywhere I went in Portugal I found iPad Minis. But there was a problem: all I could find was the 64GB WiFi and cellular model. This costs just shy of double the price of the entry-level model (€669).

The iPad Mini
The iPad Mini

On arrival in London, I headed to the flagship Apple store – no iPad Minis. The next day I made a beeline for Harrods, one of London’s high-end department stores, which has an Apple Store concession. They had iPad Minis, but guess which ones? Yes, you got it – 64GB cellular models at double the price I wanted to spend.

I knew from my visit to Harrods that there was little point in going to any of London’s Apple stores that day, as the shop assistant informed me that people had been arriving from them all day, hoping Harrods had some in stock.

Dejected, I tried the next day to “think outside the box” and headed out of London to the Apple store in Kingston-upon-Thames. By now, I was unsurprised to hear that they only had the 64GB cellular models. They told me the only chance of the 16GB WiFi was to arrive first thing in the morning.

Sadly, by this point, I’d already dedicated too long to the task, and had to spend the rest of my time in London at work. Yes, I could have queued early in the morning, or chanced an online order turning up, but by this point, I was rather put off by the whole experience.

I was beginning to wonder just how many people would end up paying twice the price for a 64GB cellular iPad Mini out of desperation.

The thing is, I was beginning to wonder just how many people would end up paying twice the price for a 64GB cellular iPad Mini out of desperation. I couldn’t help but consider whether this situation was in some way deliberate.

The iPad Mini is in direct competition with lower cost devices like Google’s Nexus 7. The entry-level model is, on that basis, the only one that really matters. It’s going to appeal to those people, like me, who are on the fence about the need for an iPad (in addition to an existing iPhone and Mac) and need a little convincing.

All the messing around looking for one didn’t persuade me to buy an expensive version. It instead made me reconsider whether I really needed one at all. Christmas is over, and I’m sure that within a couple of months, we’ll hear about a new iPad Mini with a retina screen and a better spec. Perhaps I’ll buy one of those. I suspect I am one of many people who feel this way.

Supply shortages may come with the territory, but Apple has scored a real “own goal” with this one. With the amount of time between new, updated models becoming shorter all the time, people really need to the ability to buy products while they still want to – otherwise they may not buy them at all.

Image courtesy: ASHISH1897

Buyer’s Guide: iPad mini vs. Leapfrog LeapPad for your preschooler

This holiday season many parents will be purchasing the LeapPad 2 from Leapfrog for their children. For those who don’t know what the LeapPad is, it is Leapfrog’s iPad/tablet device for kids. It costs $100 and the original LeapPad was a top-selling toy last holiday season. In fact, you could not find them in the stores.

You might wonder why I’m comparing a iPad mini and not an iPod Touch or a full iPad. Those are great options too, but for the purpose of this article I am discussing the iPad mini since it is comparable in size to the LeapPad and, in my opinion, a great sized tablet for a preschooler.

As a father whose child has the original LeapPad I would argue that the iPad mini is a better option. Yes, it is a lot morning money (starting at $329), but my opinion is it comes with much more value. In this article, I’ll tell you why.

Price comparison (including content and games)

Game cartridges for the LeapPad are about $24.99 (unless you find a deal). If you buy nine cartridges, the price difference would come close to price of the iPad mini, but most games for the iPad mini are free or 99 cents. Some games can be more expensive, but the most I’ve seen a kids app cost is $6.99 for a Disney interactive book. Therefore, once you reach that $329 price for the games and LeapPad the game pricing becomes a better deal on the iPad mini.

You can also download apps for the LeapPad, but it is more difficult and the apps are much more expensive (usually $4.99 or more – and the good games are even higher). Personally, I’d prefer to take my chances on a 99 cent app that might not get much playtime instead of $24.99.

LeapPad 2 (image from

More games are available on the iOS platform

The amount of great games on the iPad mini far exceeds the games for the LeapPad. Yes, there is a lot of junk for the iPad, but there are a lot of gems too. There are far more apps based on characters your child might know like Disney characters, PBS kids characters, and Nick Jr. characters. Plus, there are tons of great apps without these characters like those by Shoe the Goose or Duck Duck Moose. You could buy most, if not all of the apps by these two companies for the price of a single LeapPad app.

iOS offers more non-game content as well

Overall, the iPad mini just has more content available for it besides the games. You can load it with video and music from your iTunes library. You can also fill it with children’s books from the iBookstore. You can stream content to it from apps like Disney Junior or PBS Kids or Netflix (if you have a membership). Video content is available for the LeapPad and interactive books, but they generally cost more money and there are not as many available as there are for the iPad.

Future-proofing your purchase

The iPad mini will grow with your child. As your child gets older the iPad mini has a range of apps that are for the older child. The iPad can also double as a computer for word processing and other tasks if you hold onto it long enough. The iPad also has a great camera if your child is into photography. The LeapPad has a camera too, but it does not compete with the one on the iPad mini.

By the way, did I mention you will get more use out of the iPad mini than a LeapPad 2? Why not claim the iPad when your child isn’t using it? Surf the internet, read books, play game, etc. in your spare time; take advantage of having the iPad mini in the house.


Now, this may seem like LeapPad bashing, but it is not meant to be. Leapfrog is a great company and they make great educational products. My son loves his TAG reader and the LeapPad is a great product for the right family. I personally think it sparked the trend of making kid-specific Android tablets that are popping up all over the place.

However, when it comes to the LeapPad or the iPad Mini, I think the mini gives you much more for your money and will provide more fun and productivity than the LeapPad.

The iPad mini to battle it out with full tablets like iPad 2 and the Android-powered Nexus 7

Finally, the iPad mini is here. As its name suggests, it is slightly smaller than the regular iPad though its 7.9 inches still compares favorably with something like the Nexus 7. Its ultra slim design easily makes up for the big surface area that gives it a lean profile, and a surprisingly hefty feel on the hands which puts it at a better place against its rivals.

Apple did a fine job with the iPad mini as was the case with the iPhone 5, further widening the gap between Apple and its competitors. The $329 gadget boasts of a sharp display which is OK compared to its predecessor and successors, the 3rd and 4th generation full size iPads.

The device is powered by an A5 CPU, which raises concern since the chip is actually two generations old. However, there should be no worries at all since current iPad software, iOS 6, runs smoothly on the device. This might be because the device has a fewer number of pixels to manipulate on its 1024 by 768, 7.9-inch display.

Comparing the iPad mini to the full-sized iPad 2 shows no real big difference in performance. Applications run just as snappily as they do on the full-sized counterpart. It’s screen resolution is the same as that of the flagship iPad 2 and sports a resolution standing at a quarter that of the iPad 2.

When compared to other Android tablets, specifically the Nexus 7 which carries the future of the Android tablets, the first aspect to pinpoint is the fact that the Nexus is an economical tablet making it cheaper than the iPad mini. In reality though, the iPad mini has more screen space real estate than the Nexus which is also able to deliver more crisp images, thanks to its 216ppi screen in comparison to the mini’s 162ppi. Apple has also maintained the 10-hour battery life on the new mini.

Though the detailed specification list of the iPad mini is not yet out, we would be right to conclude that the gadget derives its strength from the way it pairs up its hardware and undoubtedly matches the power of the second-generation iPad. When compared to the Android flagship tablet, the iPad mini does not fair badly and may be a real competitor to the Nexus 7.