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The skinny on iPad mini for attorneys

Lawyers reviewing the latest gadget released by Apple – the junior-sized iPad mini – are focusing on its size, shape, weight and usability, elements of what tech-geeks call its “form factor.”

The device boasts the same technology and uses as a regular-sized iPad but can fit in one hand, with a display that’s only 7.9 inches.

Neil Squillante, an attorney in New York and publisher of Technolawyer, is dedicating his iPad mini to a single function: note-taking.

Operating a paperless practice otherwise, Squillante kept a 5-by-7-inch pad by his phone to take notes during calls or write down an idea that occurred to him. Paper pads were more flexible than computers for note-taking, he says, and they allowed him to emphasize a certain point by circling it. Now that niche in Squillante’s workflow is filled by an iPad mini, a note-taking app and a stylus.

“Is $350 too much for a notebook? Not by my reckoning,” Squillante wrote on the Technolawyer blog. “You can keep all the notes you ever take. You can annotate and organize them so you can easily find them. You can sync them so that you can access them from other devices. … It’s on all day ready for you to jot down notes, just like a paper notebook.”

Jeff Richardson, an attorney in New Orleans, is also a fan of what the smaller device can do for lawyers, specifically when they need to read lengthy documents.

Writing on his blog iPhone J.D., Richardson said the mini’s thinness and lightness – half the weight of a full-sized iPad – means “you’ll be able to hold the iPad mini in your hand for a considerably longer time when reading before experiencing any discomfort in your hand and arm.”

He says female attorneys will appreciate “that the iPad mini fits in smaller purses that could not hold an iPad, and if you have a large pocket in a jacket, the iPad mini just might fit.”

In TechCrunch, a web publication featuring technology news and analysis, reviewer MC Siegler compared the iPad mini to “just holding a sheet of glass. … By comparison, the regular iPad feels like you’re holding a full flat-panel monitor.”

And several reviewers say that typing is easier than on a standard iPad.

“The tweener size of the mini means you can hold it in portrait mode and thumb-type like on an iPhone or iPod. It works pretty well, for the most part,” wrote a reviewer on CNET, a technology-focused website.

Other reviews of the iPad mini have criticized the fact that Apple chose not to use the high-resolution Retina Display that is standard on the larger iPad and recent iPhone models. Retina Display adds vividness and color to photos and videos and makes reading easier.

Many reviewers found the mini to be too expensive at a price of $329 and up compared with similarly sized devices, such as the Amazon Kindle Fire and the Google Nexus 7, which both sell for about $200, although those two devices are heavier than the iPad mini. And the mini runs on a less powerful processor than the latest iPad models.

The size and weight are decisive factors in the mini’s favor for most users, especially for work tasks. As a computing device, it runs all the same applications available on the iPad and the iPhone. The most expensive model stores 64MB of data, the same as the standard iPad.

“For a device that we’re holding in our hands most of the time, it makes sense that being more comfortable trounces having the better hardware,” wrote Devindra Hardawar, national editor for the Venture Beat, a site focused on technology investments.

John Stodder Jr., is The Dolan Company’s national affairs correspondent and web-editor-at-large.

About John Stodder

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