Shifting Up

It's the long public holiday weekend here in the UK, which both puts a few things on hold and clears some space to get a few things done. One of the things I finally managed to do was to acknowledge that the iPad mini has become my primary computer and to upgrade from the WiFi-only model I bought on release day to a WiFi-plus-cellular model.

All of my previous (full size) iPads have had cellular data, despite friends telling me to either tether them to my phone, or to pick up something like a Mi-Fi, so it was a bit of an experiment to see if I could manage with the WiFi entry model. Even buying a mini in the first place was an experiment, and I had no idea that it would quickly become my device of choice.

So, I've been tethering the mini to my iPhone pretty much every day when office wifi dies on me, or when a cafe doesn't have a decent network. While tethering works well It also shortens the phone battery life and eats up data on my phone plan (precisely the reasons I didn't consider doing this in the first place). A pretty good offer from EE—the combined Orange/T-Mobile carrier that recently became the UK's first provider of 4G/LTE—convinced me to trade up to a 32GB cellular model (having always had 32GB models in the past meant that 16GB was a tight squeeze for me).

The verdict? LTE is a joy. I'm turning off wifi in cafes this weekend because its slower than the cellular connection. While it's not available everywhere yet, I can see it rapidly becoming one of those things that you just can't imagine life without (a bit like 3G has been for the last few years). Trust me, when this is available everywhere (and when competition pushes prices down and speeds even higher) you'll start to hear of people who don't even have wired home broadband anymore. First it'll be students living in rented student accommodation and the like, but then they'll move into apartments and won't bother with cable and satellite, or with computers that don't have LTE built-in. Then, the rest of us will start to come around, just like we did with mobile phones instead of landlines. Slowly, everything changes.