On Tuesday Apple announced the arrival of the iPad 4 and the iPad mini.  If you are an apple enthusiast like me, you started drooling over the latest and greatest from Apple.  In my case, once the drool subsided, I must have sat in front of my computer for an hour reading reviews, pros, cons, comparisons and tweets like this one:

After reading the reviews and researching these new iPads I began to ask myself a few questions…

  • What DOES the iPad 4 and the iPad mini offer that the iPad 2 (my iPad of choice) or 3 doesn’t?
  • Are these new iPads SO awesome that they warrant trading in my iPad and upgrading to the latest and greatest?
  • And, most important, are these new iPads the BEST choice for use in my music therapy practice?  I don’t know about you, but that is why I purchased my iPad in the first place.

With that said, I want to share a point by point comparison of the iPad 2, 3, 4 and mini “MUSIC THERAPY STYLE” in hopes that it will help YOU in deciding which iPad is best for your music therapy practice.  DISCLAIMER: I am in no way an Apple expert.  Just an iPad enthusiast who wants to share my opinion on navigating the iPad options.  I claim ZERO responsibility for your decision making process. =) Okay, let’s start with a visual.


Let’s start with the iPad 4.  The tweet I referenced above is poking fun at folks that just purchased the iPad 3 because it has only been on the market for 6 months!  So what’s the difference between the 3 and the 4? In my opinion, not much. The iPad 4 offers a faster processor (a dual core A6, which is twice as fast as the iPad 3’s processor, which is MORE than capable to run every app available in the app store) and an upgraded front camera offering 720p HD vid and 1.2mp stills in comparison to the iPad 3’s front camera which only takes VGA vid and stills (which translates to 640×480 resolution).  The iPad 4 also offers intelligent assistance a la Siri if voice command options are important to you.  The kicker? Apple removed the iPad 3 as an offering from it’s own website which now only lists the iPad 2, iPad 4 and iPad mini for comparison.  Now you might be saying, “Okay Bonnie, that’s fine and dandy, but what does that all mean to me?”  It means that if you plan to use the iPad primarily in your music therapy practice for sessions and business productivity the iPad 3 is the better choice over the iPad 4.  Currently, the iPad 3 and iPad 4 cost the same regardless of the memory/wifi option you need, BUT, when the iPad 4 hits stores on November 2nd, the price of the iPad 3 will drop both online and in stores as it has in the past with the release of the iPad 2 and 3.  In my opinion the iPad 4 doesn’t offer anything that will significantly change the way you do music therapy.  My advice on purchasing the iPad 3 vs ipad 4: go for the 3 (and hold off until November to purchase at a lower price!).

Now for the iPad mini.  The mini, by nature, is a smaller version of the iPad 2, the primary difference being the display size. Mini comes in at 7.9 inches as compared to the standard 9.7 inches of the 2 (3 and 4 for that matter). Mini also boasts an enhanced front camera with 720 HD vid and 1.2mp still quality as compared to the VGA vid and still quality offered by the iPad 2.  My advice on the practicality of the iPad mini in Music Therapy: PASS.  If you are like me, then you use your iPad as a music reader. Believe it or not, those extra two inches on the standard iPad screens (2, 3, 4) make a huge difference for reading full page scores, lead sheets and tab.  Also, many of the instrument apps that I recommend on my blog require fine motor manipulation and precise movements on keys, notes, drum heads, etc.  When I think about incorporating the iPad into my sessions with clients I want to create successful experiences and, for me, the standard iPad screen allows me to account for variables like visual impairments, whereas it might prove more difficult to account for this on the mini.  So you might be asking, “Should I buy the iPad 2 over the mini?” My advice: the iPad 2 is the better purchase when compared to the iPad mini.  Yes, the mini is cheaper than the iPad 2, BUT, like I stated earlier, you can’t get those two inches of display back once you purchase.  Still unsure?  Head to your local apple store and pull up some sheet music on google images on both the mini and the iPad 2 and decide for yourself.

One last comparison: the iPad 2 vs the iPad 4.  I will admit this comparison is somewhat self serving since I own the iPad 2, but do hear me out. =)  When looking at the chart above you can see the differences between the 2 and the 4.  The iPad 4 offers a better processor, camera and display than the 2, but the comparison of note is the price.  The iPad 4 is almost $200 more in every memory/wifi option.  In my mind, that is a significant and unnecessary jump in price when you think about it in terms of music therapy.  Everything I would “potentially” do with the iPad 4 in my music therapy sessions I already do with my iPad 2 with 100% satisfaction.  Sure, I can’t cue up Siri on my iPad 2 and ask her to write an email for me, or re-schedule a session.  Sure, my iPad 2 display isn’t as “amazing” as the 4 retina display.  And sure, my iPad 2 doesn’t cue up apps and run programs as efficiently as the 4, but I never thought my iPad 2 was inefficient in this area either.  Come to think of it, that drool I was wiping off my face a few days back, that wasn’t really all that necessary. In my opinion, the iPad 2 is the better option over the iPad 4 for use in my music therapy practice.

So how about you?  Do you currently own an iPad, and which generation do you have?  Are you satisfied with it’s performance in your music therapy practice?  Do you have other comparisons to add to the list here?  Would love your feedback and input in the comments below!