Video: iPad Mini 4 Extreme PDF Test (Plus Tablet Thoughts)

I had to know. I couldn’t ask anyone else to do it. And I needed to see it all for myself.

So I went to an Apple store and commandeered an iPad Mini 4 (which was easy, no one else was even at the table!) to torment it with a variety of PDFs, the titles of some can be seen here as the darkened links:

Those are from the Google Books PDF Test page.

The issue of The American Magazine in the video was grabbed directly from Google Books.

The issue of Processed World I tried to grab directly from The Internet Archive but Safari wasn’t having that:

But Safari did relent when I used a link from an older post.

My methodology was to download each (they display in Safari first), hit “Open in iBooks” in Safari, wait for iBooks to open with it, double-press the Home button to get the overview of open apps, then swipe iBooks away to close it. I didn’t want any possible background page processing going on to interfere with downloads or to skew the live opening of each PDF.

The end result was everything waiting for me in iBooks:

Note that everything to the left and above of the Steve Jobs book (already in iBooks by the Apple store), is my test files.

The end result was a ten-minute YouTube video.

As will be seen, The American Magazine crashed iBooks twice. At the start of the video when I began to stress it. A repeat appearance near the end of the video when it had no damned reason to crash. iBooks also crashed on Fairy Tales from the Far North, which was a surprise to me. As for Processed World, it gave iBooks a fit. I had tried that once before on another iPad (I forget which) and it took a Very Long Time before iBooks finally became responsive and paging through was Very Very Slow. But I expected something like that because the PDF format from The Internet Archive is monstrous (far worse than Google Books). I think I’d have to reformat all of those PDFs in something like Nitro PDF to make them sane and fast.

(By the way, I didn’t care that I basically left iBooks useless on that demo Mini. Each night, the store does a clean reset of all demo models. My test files never survive to the next day, unlike on Android devices at Best Buy.)

Fasten your seatbelts for the next ten minutes:

iPad Mini 4 Extreme PDF Test

What to keep in mind: This is using iBooks. Because that’s all I can use on a demo iPad of any model. I can’t download a PDF-specific app to try like I (mostly, sometimes) can with a demo Android tablet. Using something like Goodreader on the Mini 4 could have a very different result, possibly no crashing at all and faster page rendering even for Surface Japan.

But to find that out would require me to place a frikkin US$399 bet!

That’s a hell of a lot of cat food. And the cats must eat.

Which bring up the question I’ve been mulling since yesterday: What is a tablet worth?

This 128GB iPad Mini 4 used to be priced at $599. Then $499. Now it’s $399 (and sales might bring it lower).

But is it worth that?

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 used to be priced at $399. Now it’s $299.

But is it worth that?

The iFive Mini 4s is about $120.

But is it worth that?

Given my past fondling of the similar Insignia Flex Elite 7.85 at Best Buy, I’d have to say yes, the iFive Mini 4s is worth about $120 — but really $99.

So if I can get no PDF crashes with The American Magazine on a $120 Android tablet, is the iPad Mini 4 worth $399?

Maybe the answer is obvious to everyone else, but not to me.

These are the main points.

iPad Mini 4:
– Apple quality
– App Store
– AnTuTu in the 80,000-range
– not likely to fall apart
– great battery life
– battery unlikely to explode
– could still get an OS upgrade
– no card slot but 128GBs storage

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0:
– Samsung quality
– Play Store
– AnTuTu in the 50,000-range
– not likely to fall apart
– fair battery life
– battery unlikely to explode
– unlikely to ever get an OS upgrade
– card slot

iFive Mini 4s:
– Risky Chinese quality
– Play Store
– AnTuTu in the 50,000-range
– likely to fall apart
– poor battery life
– battery could explode or die fast
– unlikely to ever get an OS upgrade
– card slot

See, when faced with all that, I just want to throw up my hands and Go Cheap. (Note that because the iFive Mini 4s has shitty cameras, I’m not putting the cameras in as a factor. At least not right now!)

After all, I’ve been using a borrowed Asus MeMoPad 7 for weeks now, and it’s not the fastest car on the damned highway. Even the iFive Mini 4s would be a step up.

As if this wasn’t complex enough, there’s the very real possibility that Apple is going to kill the Mini line. This 128GB Mini 4 could be its swan song.

What would replace it, if anything?

Steven Troughton-Smith makes a case that a virtually-bezeless iPad would. And his photo argument is compelling:

A 9.7-inch iPad screen is just a leeeeeetle bigger than an entire iPad Mini!

If Apple could manage the weight, thickness, and balance, it could very well replace the Mini with the added bonus of Bigger Screen.

That would also get them out of the discounting hole they’ve dug for themselves by dropping the 128GB Mini by $200 and making an entry-level iPad $329 (down from iPad 1’s $499 base). Such a beast would command a higher price. (It might also set off a new round of iPad clones from China.)


None yet.

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3 Responses to Video: iPad Mini 4 Extreme PDF Test (Plus Tablet Thoughts)

  1. Robert Jasiek says:

    The value of a tablet (model) differs for everybody. E.g., my simplified considerations before buying the iPad Mini 4 16GB were: basic hardware €340, reduction-of-reflection coating +€200, missing file management -€200 = result €340. That then was exactly the price I paid when it was on offer for a few hours. For a matte display, the result would have been €540, i.e., +€400 for this feature alone. I have seen comments by others amounting to +€30 or even as little as +€0 for reduction-of-reflection coating.

    For you, your calculation seems to be that you multiply by 0 any tablet price larger than $80 if the tablet cannot handle all PDFs smoothly, and for $80 want at least the basic hardware to be reasonable.

    There is not “the” value of a tablet but everybody has to make up his own evaluation.

    A combination of desired features can further increase one’s value of a tablet. E.g., the combination of 4:3, matte, bright, Windows, silent, long battery life, long battery replacement service, good WLAN, reasonable build quality and design, two thunderbird 3 ports, stylus, 10″ or larger, light enough for long handholding, SSD would have a value for me much larger than the added values of the single aspects. It would be my dream tablet.

    Will the iPad Minis be discontinued? I think the only cause for that would be a larger display fitting into roughly the chassis of a Mini. Otherwise, Apple would be stupid to discontinue such a useful product.

    $599, then $499, now $399 for the iPad Mini 4 128GB means that Apple’s margin was astronomic for $599, very good for $499 is still is good for $399 now that hardware components have become cheaper. There is a reason why Apple has €150bn+ cash. Not to mention LTE: a component worth ca. €5 and costing ca. €5 for testing during model design is sold for €160 now. Market economy at its best: demand determines the price.

    • mikecane says:

      You do too much math for me. I’m terrible at math.

      I’m trying to ascertain where the Workflow app Apple just acquired fits into my decision. Have you used it at all?

  2. Robert Jasiek says:

    Work with iOS? The only exception is proofreading PDFs with LiquidText. Any other work is impossible for me under iOS because the million apps have no use whatsoever for my work. Missing file management, missing (serious!) security of iOS and useless local backup attempts complete the failure. If you want real work under iOS, test each app, each function and each workflow for each number of files. If just one necessary function is missing for your workflow, iOS is not for you. This is the simple truth.

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