Bringing New Life to an Old iPad

I fell for the iPad as computer replacement because I wanted it to be true. The new iPads are gloriously futuristic devices, and there’s a certain romance to tapping away on a beautiful screen. I feel like I’m in Star Trek.

For light users, this is a fine sole computer. It’s cheaper, lighter and a better experience than a laptop. For a certain power user, this is also true. An $800 iPad can edit video like a $3k MacBook.

I’m right in the middle. I don’t do enough video and photo editing to take advantage of the iPad’s raw power, but I have scripts and odd workflows that are much easier on a laptop.

The ergonomics got me in the end. A full-sized (10.5”) iPad Air is too heavy to hold for long stretches. Want to spend the day lazing around and reading? That’s going to hurt.

Typing thousands of words is also painful. Hunched over shoulders, a crooked neck not great support my wrists.

So I decided to sell my new iPad Air and use my old Mini 4 again.

A tablet that’s just a tablet without the pretension of becoming a laptop is a wonderful thing. The screen size of the mini is perfect for text: books, RSS feeds, you name it. I can happily hold it in one hand for hours.

It’s perfect for light workflows such as making notes while I read, responding to a message or looking something up.

A five-year-old iPad mini is snappy if you use it the right way:

  1. Install Better Blocker. Most websites load lightning fast without all the ad tech and trackers running in the background.
  2. RAM is the biggest limitation. I only keep a few browser tabs open and the apps I’m directly working with.
  3. In most cases mobile sites are faster than apps (e.g. instead the Twitter App).

That’s it. Older devices can happily live on as readers for years beyond their mass market “expiration date”.

For an in-depth look at the issues with using an iPad as your primary computing device, check out Getting the iPad to Pro.