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Old 11-29-2012, 11:44 AM   #1
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iPad mini Questions

Hi everyone,

I'm considering getting an iPad mini and a large reason would be for it to hopefully become my main e-reader. I've been wanting a small tablet for awhile and have been going back and forth for months between Kindle Fire, Google Nexus and (waiting for then adding into the mix) the iPad mini.

All my computers have always been Mac and I have other Apple products too, so I'm already somewhat of an "Apple person" I suppose. So I knew if a mini came out I'd probably lean towards it over a Fire or Nexus. The price is even higher than I was expecting, but I'm impressed that it's got a bigger screen yet is lighter and basically the same dimensions as the others, and I'm really looking forward to how well and easily it would integrate with my Mac and the Apple software.

I was still taking my time deciding, then a great deal for the Kindle Fire came up on Monday so I bought it. But I can still change my mind and cancel it before it ships or return it, and now that's put me into "decide" mode, heh. And the thought of choosing another and not having the mini is making me want the mini even more!

I have a few questions though:

-I've never used iBooks. How is it? Does it show up in iTunes (is it the "Books" section) or is it a separate application? I'd love for my music, video, and now books to all be in one simple place.

-My books are all epub; some are Barnes & Noble epub, many are Sony epub and the rest are no-DRM epub. Will B&N and Sony epub work on iBooks? I'd rather just use one app for all my books.

-This may sound really basic, but I'm not very techy (hence why I love the simplicity of Apple products) and I'm in the mindset of a dedicated e-ink e-reader: So, I think iBooks is basically the pre-loaded "official" reading app, but then I could also add other reading apps such as a B&N nook one or a Sony Reader one or even a Kindle one, correct? And then if I wanted I could switch back and forth depending on the book and format? I'd still rather just use one main app (iBooks) but I'm trying to learn here and understand my options.

-I've watched some youtubes of iBooks on the iPad mini and they answered many questions but there's one thing they didn't answer: How are the dictionaries? Are they pre-loaded, or does it go to the internet for a dictionary definition? I do really love my current dictionary on the Sony 950, the Oxford Dictionary of English, and I'd really love to continue using it on the tablet I get. Is it already pre-loaded as a dictionary, or if not, is there a way I can download it and iBooks would use it as my dictionary?

-I'm huge on note-taking while reading. It looks very easy from the youtube videos; does anyone here take a lot of notes through iBooks on their iPad or mini? If so, would you say it's good/easy? Do the notes transfer to your computer easily?

-Can I sync the mini with my computer wirelessly? Such as adding new books from one to the other, or transferring notes for safe keeping, etc. Or even syncing music, video, etc.

-Finally, cases. I see in the Apple store there's only one, the Smart Cover, which looks great. Any first hand experience with it here? Then I look on other sites and there's a million case options. Any good ones out there? I'm looking for a very light-weight one so the Smart Cover looks good, and I like how you can fold it to stand the mini upright. However, I would like the back protected from scratches. I've heard you can get a protective film for the back, similar to a screen protector? Do those work well?

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Old 11-29-2012, 12:07 PM   #2
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I don't own an iPad mini so I can't answer your hardware questions, but I can answer some of your software questions.

1. iBooks is not bad, though it's not my reading application of choice. It's distinguished principally by its desire to imitate a real book. Hence, book titles and page numbers are persistently displayed on the screen when you read and page turn animations imitate those of real books. You can also choose to read your books as an endless scroll rather than turning the page. It integrates with iTunes, which has its own book section.

2. iBooks reads epub files. It can read any sideloaded epub file whose DRM has been removed. You can easily accomplish this using Calibre and Apprentice Alf's DRM removal tools on your Sony and B&N purchases. Calibre has a function to automatically sync its library with iTunes, or you can drag and drop selected books from your folders to iTunes.

3. iBooks is not installed by default, but it is free in the app store. There are tons of other reading apps available, including Sony, Kindle, and many that are not affiliated with a store or a company. You cannot start a book in one app and finish it in another, but you can easily sideload your files to your app of preference using iTunes. NOTE: the Kindle app uses .mobi files instead of .epubs, so you will have to convert them using Calibre beforehand.

4. Notes are easy to take in iBooks. However, they do NOT synchronize with your computer. They stay in the book and can only be synchronized with other Apple phones or tablets using the same Apple ID. As far as I know, it is impossible to extract your iBooks notes as a text file, or to even view them on a mac or PC. It is possible that third-party ebook readers allow you to do this, but I'm afraid I don't know of any.

5. Yes, all iPads can be wirelessly synchronized with iTunes.

Last edited by holymadness; 11-29-2012 at 12:15 PM.
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Old 11-29-2012, 02:08 PM   #3
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Notes on 1. The page numbers and headers can easily be removed with a tap to the center of the screen.

Notes on 2. The note is true but there are available apps from the other readers including the Sony and Barnes and Noble. You will need the Barnes and Noble app to browse books in their store.

I use the smart cover on my iPad 2 and like it very much. There are some third part covers out or coming out for the mini. I also use a carrying case with handles when I am carrying the unit around for full protection.
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Old 11-29-2012, 02:33 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by DaleDe View Post
Notes on 1. The page numbers and headers can easily be removed with a tap to the center of the screen.
Oh? I just tried this on my iPhone, it only brings up the settings buttons.
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Old 11-29-2012, 02:58 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by holymadness View Post
Oh? I just tried this on my iPhone, it only brings up the settings buttons.
You are right. It takes away all the extraneous stuff like the progress bar and number of pages left in the chapter but it does leave the book title and the top and the page numbers at the bottom. My memory faded I guess. I am using too many different reading apps.

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Old 11-29-2012, 03:41 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by sun surfer View Post
-I've never used iBooks. How is it? Does it show up in iTunes (is it the "Books" section) or is it a separate application? I'd love for my music, video, and now books to all be in one simple place.
Yes, books you add to iTunes show up under the Books section. I don't use iBooks particularly, but it's easy to transfer your books via iTunes into iBooks. I've mostly done this with a few PDFs, they load into iBooks as well as epubs.

Quote:
-My books are all epub; some are Barnes & Noble epub, many are Sony epub and the rest are no-DRM epub. Will B&N and Sony epub work on iBooks? I'd rather just use one app for all my books.
DRM-free epubs load into iBooks directly via iTunes. Those with DRM will have to be loaded into an app that handles the specific DRM. I use the Kindle app since I'd rather email my ebooks wirelessly to my iPad mini from calibre, skipping iTunes. calibre automatically converts any epubs to mobi when it sends.

Quote:
-This may sound really basic, but I'm not very techy (hence why I love the simplicity of Apple products) and I'm in the mindset of a dedicated e-ink e-reader: So, I think iBooks is basically the pre-loaded "official" reading app, but then I could also add other reading apps such as a B&N nook one or a Sony Reader one or even a Kindle one, correct? And then if I wanted I could switch back and forth depending on the book and format? I'd still rather just use one main app (iBooks) but I'm trying to learn here and understand my options.
Sure, you can load all the other ebook reader apps on your iPad mini. There are even a few non-store based ones. For organizational purposes you might like to use different apps.

Quote:
-I've watched some youtubes of iBooks on the iPad mini and they answered many questions but there's one thing they didn't answer: How are the dictionaries? Are they pre-loaded, or does it go to the internet for a dictionary definition? I do really love my current dictionary on the Sony 950, the Oxford Dictionary of English, and I'd really love to continue using it on the tablet I get. Is it already pre-loaded as a dictionary, or if not, is there a way I can download it and iBooks would use it as my dictionary?
The apps all have a built-in dictionary, but I don't know specifically which dictionaries they use. I don't think you can add your own dictionary.

Quote:
-I'm huge on note-taking while reading. It looks very easy from the youtube videos; does anyone here take a lot of notes through iBooks on their iPad or mini? If so, would you say it's good/easy? Do the notes transfer to your computer easily?
I don't do notes, but only the Kindle app syncs notes as far as I know.

Quote:
-Can I sync the mini with my computer wirelessly? Such as adding new books from one to the other, or transferring notes for safe keeping, etc. Or even syncing music, video, etc.
Yes. I prefer to do this manually though, with a drag and drop when connected to iTunes.

Quote:
-Finally, cases. I see in the Apple store there's only one, the Smart Cover, which looks great. Any first hand experience with it here? Then I look on other sites and there's a million case options. Any good ones out there? I'm looking for a very light-weight one so the Smart Cover looks good, and I like how you can fold it to stand the mini upright. However, I would like the back protected from scratches. I've heard you can get a protective film for the back, similar to a screen protector? Do those work well?
The Smart Cover is very light, but I found that I mostly use the mini by holding onto it rather than propping it up so I didn't really want the cover. Instead I ordered a silicon skin for the back of the mini to give me some grip, but maintain the sleek and lightweight form factor.
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Old 11-30-2012, 12:01 PM   #7
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The Kindle Fire order has been cancelled. Poor thing never really had a chance. But like I said in the other thread, I couldn't wait any longer and now have an iPad mini waiting for me to be picked up at the Apple store!

All your answers have been very informative so far. Whatever I don't know yet I'll learn with trial and error on the mini, though I have a slow learning curve with tech stuff.

Quote:
Originally Posted by holymadness
4. Notes are easy to take in iBooks. However, they do NOT synchronize with your computer. They stay in the book and can only be synchronized with other Apple phones or tablets using the same Apple ID. As far as I know, it is impossible to extract your iBooks notes as a text file, or to even view them on a mac or PC. It is possible that third-party ebook readers allow you to do this, but I'm afraid I don't know of any.
No way to sync notes to my Mac? I guess it's not as huge of a deal since the mini is more of a small computer rather than a dedicated reader like my Sony 950, but still that sounds so strange! So I can't download iBooks onto my computer and then have it sync notes to the computer iBooks app? That's what happens with the Sony Reader app; I can use the Sony app on my computer to look at notes taken on the 950.

And if I really can't transfer those notes anywhere else for safe-keeping (in case the mini is destroyed or lost), what about the iCloud? I haven't used it yet but I may start for this. Would the notes be saved in the cloud?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Synamon
Yes, books you add to iTunes show up under the Books section. I don't use iBooks particularly, but it's easy to transfer your books via iTunes into iBooks. I've mostly done this with a few PDFs, they load into iBooks as well as epubs.
I'll be finding out soon, but I'm still not understanding - is iBooks a separate app from iTunes or is it part of iTunes? If it's not part of iTunes then what is the "Books" section of iTunes?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Synamon
DRM-free epubs load into iBooks directly via iTunes. Those with DRM will have to be loaded into an app that handles the specific DRM. I use the Kindle app since I'd rather email my ebooks wirelessly to my iPad mini from calibre, skipping iTunes. calibre automatically converts any epubs to mobi when it sends.
I've used calibre a few times but am leery of using it regularly. Does it convert the files perfectly? I always feel like if I convert it then tiny formatting things are probably messed up and the books aren't as nice as in their original format, but it's hard to tell really.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Synamon
The apps all have a built-in dictionary, but I don't know specifically which dictionaries they use. I don't think you can add your own dictionary.
Almost everything else I'll get used to, but I will sorely miss the Oxford dictionary I'm using on the 950. When I get the mini I'm going to try to figure out if there's any way I can use it easily.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Synamon
The Smart Cover is very light, but I found that I mostly use the mini by holding onto it rather than propping it up so I didn't really want the cover. Instead I ordered a silicon skin for the back of the mini to give me some grip, but maintain the sleek and lightweight form factor.
Yes I don't think I'd use the cover so much for standing up, but to have a ready-made thing to prop the mini up with if I need it would be great.

But where did you get this "silicon skin" from? That sounds exactly like what I was thinking about for the back to protect it from scratches without adding weight or clunkiness, and if it makes the grip better then all the better.

Also, would you guys say the anti-glare protective film for the screen is worth it? I'm careful with my tech stuff and don't think I'd scratch the screen (the back's another matter since it's more easily scratchable and exposed), especially if I have the Smart Cover to cover the front when not in use. But I'm wondering if the anti-glare properties would be worth it.
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Old 11-30-2012, 01:02 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by sun surfer View Post
No way to sync notes to my Mac? I guess it's not as huge of a deal since the mini is more of a small computer rather than a dedicated reader like my Sony 950, but still that sounds so strange! So I can't download iBooks onto my computer and then have it sync notes to the computer iBooks app? That's what happens with the Sony Reader app; I can use the Sony app on my computer to look at notes taken on the 950.

And if I really can't transfer those notes anywhere else for safe-keeping (in case the mini is destroyed or lost), what about the iCloud? I haven't used it yet but I may start for this. Would the notes be saved in the cloud?
iCloud syncs your notes across all your iOS devices, but since you don't seem to have any others, this is probably not very useful to you. It also only works with books purchased from the Apple iBooks bookstore, IIRC.

However, I just found a way to do this! You CAN export your notes from iBooks to email. How to:

  1. Tap the table of contents button (looks like 3 horizontal lines)
  2. Tap 'Notes'
  3. Tap the 'Export' button (shaped like an arrow)
  4. Select 'Edit Notes'
  5. Tap 'Select All' at the bottom of the screen, or only select certain notes
  6. Tap 'Share' at the bottom of the screen
  7. Tap 'Mail'
  8. Email your notes to yourself or anyone else as plain text



Learn something new every day.
Quote:
I'll be finding out soon, but I'm still not understanding - is iBooks a separate app from iTunes or is it part of iTunes? If it's not part of iTunes then what is the "Books" section of iTunes?
iBooks is a separate app that exists only on iPhone, iPod, and iPad. iTunes is used to synchronize between your computer and iBooks. That is all handled through the 'books' section of iTunes.

Quote:
I've used calibre a few times but am leery of using it regularly. Does it convert the files perfectly? I always feel like if I convert it then tiny formatting things are probably messed up and the books aren't as nice as in their original format, but it's hard to tell really.
I use it religiously. Conversion quality, at least for epub/mobi, is top-notch.

Quote:
Almost everything else I'll get used to, but I will sorely miss the Oxford dictionary I'm using on the 950. When I get the mini I'm going to try to figure out if there's any way I can use it easily.
It's not the OED, but the built-in dictionary is very good. It's the same as the dictionary app on OS X.

Last edited by holymadness; 11-30-2012 at 02:33 PM.
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Old 11-30-2012, 03:58 PM   #9
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What holymadness said. I'll add that I've not had any trouble converting from epub to mobi with calibre. Even if you decide to stick with epub, using calibre to organize your ebooks is still a great idea since none of the apps are great at organization. calibre is especially useful if you'll be buying the ebooks from a few different places.

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Originally Posted by sun surfer View Post
But where did you get this "silicon skin" from? That sounds exactly like what I was thinking about for the back to protect it from scratches without adding weight or clunkiness, and if it makes the grip better then all the better.
I ordered it online via Amazon. Do a search and you'll find some, quite cheap too, I think I paid $5.

Quote:
Also, would you guys say the anti-glare protective film for the screen is worth it? I'm careful with my tech stuff and don't think I'd scratch the screen (the back's another matter since it's more easily scratchable and exposed), especially if I have the Smart Cover to cover the front when not in use. But I'm wondering if the anti-glare properties would be worth it.
I'm anti-film. The screens on the iThings are beautiful and very hard. Even my husband the who is tough on electronics hasn't managed a scratch on his 2 year old iPhone.

Don't forget to get yourself a microfiber cloth to remove fingerprints.
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Old 11-30-2012, 09:38 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by sun surfer View Post
...But where did you get this "silicon skin" from? That sounds exactly like what I was thinking about for the back to protect it from scratches without adding weight or clunkiness, and if it makes the grip better then all the better.
Have a look at Gelaskins, huge range of artwork, and they will even use your own photo to create a customised skin for you at no extra cost. I have one on each of three iPhones, and have just ordered another four, three for Kindles, and one for my new iPad Mini.
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Old 12-01-2012, 05:32 PM   #11
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For reading ePub on an iPad, the best app is Bluefire Reader. iBooks is odd at times and things that should work don't. Also, iBooks uses a rather large margin that you cannot actually get rid of. Bluefire just is better. Plus, Bluefire uses ADE so it is compatible where iBooks may or may not be compatible.
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Old 12-02-2012, 04:14 PM   #12
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I'm loving the mini! I'm still finishing up the last book on my 950 and I wanted to finish it there to keep all its notes in the same place, but after that I'm switching my reading over to the mini. I've tried out reading some already on the mini though and I think it's great.

I did have one snafu though. I thought I could connect Bluetooth between the mini and Mac and well, I couldn't. It took a call to support and a surprised rep getting the answer from his supervisor that this type of Bluetooth functionality is not included on the mini, heh. I didn't mind though - I was trying to set it up to transfer files but I found I can do this wirelessly through iTunes sync instead I think - and I was just very relieved that my mini was OK.

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Originally Posted by holymadness View Post
iCloud syncs your notes across all your iOS devices, but since you don't seem to have any others, this is probably not very useful to you. It also only works with books purchased from the Apple iBooks bookstore, IIRC.

However, I just found a way to do this! You CAN export your notes from iBooks to email. How to

...

Learn something new every day.
Yes, this is my first iOS device. I have most everything Apple now except my smartphone, and that will change when I next change out my mobile. When it first came out I didn't like how big the iPhone was. I often have my mobile in my pocket and I've went with the smallest smartphone I could find over the last few years, but I think I'm close to preferring having the iPhone instead.

Thanks for the tip on exporting notes! I think that's definitely going to come in handy for me.

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Originally Posted by Synamon View Post
What holymadness said. I'll add that I've not had any trouble converting from epub to mobi with calibre. Even if you decide to stick with epub, using calibre to organize your ebooks is still a great idea since none of the apps are great at organization. calibre is especially useful if you'll be buying the ebooks from a few different places.
I'm going to try to take your advice. I'm a bit slow at it all, but I think it'll be worth it. Switching devices now, what I think I've decided I want to do is to remove all the DRM from my books if I can and make it where I have an non-DRM epub copy and mobi copy (in case I ever get a Kindle or Fire, as I almost did, or want to use the Kindle app). Then I'll have a library that won't be a pain no matter which reading app or even device I might use.

Once I have my library fixed up, then I'll only have to worry about fixing new books incoming. I think it'll be more organised this way and less hassle. The only thing is my notes - they'll be locked to whatever I'm using to take them I think.

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Originally Posted by Synamon
I'm anti-film. The screens on the iThings are beautiful and very hard. Even my husband the who is tough on electronics hasn't managed a scratch on his 2 year old iPhone.

Don't forget to get yourself a microfiber cloth to remove fingerprints.
You've convinced me; no screen protector. But looking over my mini, which right now is desnudo, I know I've got to get something for the back - I'm looking into what you and BeeTee-Ess recommended. I'm being very careful right now but it'd probably scratch the first time I accidentally touched my fingernail to it so I want to get it covered asap.

What I'm thinking is, a skin for the back, the Smart Cover for the front/standing it up (and it seems easy to take off if I want the mini lighter while I'm using it), and a nice little pouch case type thing to tuck it in when I'm not using it or when carrying it somewhere.

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Originally Posted by JSWolf View Post
For reading ePub on an iPad, the best app is Bluefire Reader. iBooks is odd at times and things that should work don't. Also, iBooks uses a rather large margin that you cannot actually get rid of. Bluefire just is better. Plus, Bluefire uses ADE so it is compatible where iBooks may or may not be compatible.
I'll try it out! I've never heard of it before but I'm planning on trying out a few different ones. I really like the design of iBooks and it has all the features I need (well, except syncing notes to my Mac) so I'm hoping maybe it'll be my de facto reader app but I want to compare a few.
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Old 12-03-2012, 01:08 AM   #13
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May I add a couple questions? I think these weren't asked yet:

1- Do the narrow borders cause you to accidentally turn the page with your thumb just from holding it?

2- How easy is it to get a refund if it functions fine but you just don't like it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BeeTee-Ess View Post
Have a look at Gelaskins, huge range of artwork, and they will even use your own photo to create a customised skin for you at no extra cost. I have one on each of three iPhones, and have just ordered another four, three for Kindles, and one for my new iPad Mini.
I'm looking for one with a "sticky" grip, and from the description on the Gelaskins site, they seem to be vinyl. Is there something I'm missing?

Last edited by Michele; 12-03-2012 at 01:14 AM.
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Old 12-03-2012, 10:38 AM   #14
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2. All Apple products can be returned for a full refund within two weeks of the date of purchase. Just bring it back to the Apple store with your receipt. No hassles.
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Old 12-03-2012, 10:51 AM   #15
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I have never accidentally turned a page. The mini can distinguish between holding and tapping/swiping. You need a definite tap to register actions near the edges/corners of the tablet.
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