<img src="/contentimages/articles/starbucksdollarcup.jpg" alt="$1 Cup width="500" border="0" class="newsgraphiclarge" /> For those of you that haven't read up on the new reusable cup, it's a 16 ounce plastic tumbler, designed to mimic the standard Starbucks paper cup, complete with matching lid and similar dimensions (how's that for skeumorphism?). It has a notch along the inside to denote 12 ounces of liquid, allowing it to be refilled to one of two common sizes. It's somewhat thin and lightweight, so it won't provide the best insulation, and actually needs a paper or reusable sleeve if your beverage is on the hotter side. In almost every way, this cup is the opposite of my big, somewhat pricey, ...">

Article: How a Cup Made Me Appreciate the iPad mini

by on January 13, 2013

About a week and a half ago, Starbucks began selling plastic reusable coffee cups for $1. While the company sold a number of other reusable mugs and tumblers in the past, the fact that these are inexpensive and designed to further the push for sustainability made them grab headlines. After ending up with one, it has quickly become my favorite non-mug coffee cup, although seems built around a series of compromises.

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<img src=”/contentimages/articles/starbucksdollarcup.jpg” alt=”$1 Cup width=”500″ border=”0″ class=”newsgraphiclarge” />

For those of you that haven’t read up on the new reusable cup, it’s a 16 ounce plastic tumbler, designed to mimic the standard Starbucks paper cup, complete with matching lid and similar dimensions (how’s that for skeumorphism?). It has a notch along the inside to denote 12 ounces of liquid, allowing it to be refilled to one of two common sizes. It’s somewhat thin and lightweight, so it won’t provide the best insulation, and actually needs a paper or reusable sleeve if your beverage is on the hotter side. In almost every way, this cup is the opposite of my big, somewhat pricey, double-walled stainless steel tumbler that can keep coffee hot for the better part of the day.

They’ve apparently been selling well, and people seem to like them. At a fraction of the cost of even the most economical tumblers, you can afford to have a couple of extra and not feel bad if you lose or break one. I’ve found that I can overlook the compromises, and even find the added benefit of it being microwaveable (stainless steel tumblers don’t do so great in the microwave).

When the iPad mini was released, I was quick to pan the idea for my use—it’s not something I’d buy, especially since it was slower, less-capable, and arguably less functional than a full-sized iPad. I wasn’t the only one, but it seems as more people use it, the more they seem to like its convenience and simplicity over its much more powerful sibling. I’ll admit, and I feel completely lazy for this, that sometimes I’ll grab my iPhone off the table to look something up quickly, even though it’s right next to the iPad. There are other times that I wish I had my iPad, but found it to be something that I still consciously have to take with me, while the iPhone is always with me. Finally, there is the issue of two devices and keeping certain things synchronized. iCloud and Dropbox are helpful, but don’t do everything.

One could argue that a device like the Samsung Galaxy Note is where Apple needs to be—the phone/tablet hybrid. I’m not so sure, as I am a fan of the iPhone’s form factor, and want to have the two functions—phone and productivity device somewhat separate.

Still, I think the iPad mini excels at a lot of things, despite being a bit more difficult to type on, having a lower quality display, and slightly older technology under-the-hood. Much like the $1 cup, the iPad mini offers a simpler “good-enough” option of a popular product that should appeal to many who would’ve never considered it. For others who may own an iPad, but still find themselves using their Mac or iPhone more, the iPad mini may make a very suitable “next” iPad—powerful and handy enough to augment the combination, but maybe a step down in the performance department.

The iPad mini’s display is also criticized a lot more than it should be. For the past two weeks, I’ve been working with a fleet of iPad 2s, and still find the displays to be quite nice once you get adjusted to them (if you recall, I went from an original iPad to a third-generation iPad early last year). In fact, looking back at a 2011 post from Dr. Raymond M. Soneira at DisplayMate, Apple’s iPad 2 display held up quite well against the iPhone 4:

“What has amazed and impressed me about the iPad 2 is that Apple has included a first rate (screen) at a very aggressive price point and not used a cheaper second or third tier LCD, which is what most manufacturers do under these circumstances.”

I think Apple has spoiled us with Retina Displays on so many devices that we immediate assume that anything otherwise is junk. Still, it’s a smaller pixel size and my eyesight is pretty good, so I think I’d be able to adjust quite well. In a time when we expect television to be crisp, clear, high definition content, many forget the excellent (although lower resolution) picture from some of the older CRTs of the past.

Still, the moral of this brief story is that I’ve been doing a lot of thinking along the lines of Patrick Rhone’s MinimalMac and Enough, and I’m not exactly going to get rid of every app or get rid of every perceived inferior product. However, I might explore that interesting area of useful, but less-capable products that serve a purpose well, as long as you are aware of their limitations. Who would’ve thought that a simple plastic cup, arguably an inferior product on paper has become my favorite way to drink coffee?

This post has been filed in Articles and Primarily iPad