Midweek Q&A

Taking a break from those overly serious management-style posts to talk about some practical technology.

Q: are those backup external batteries really useful?

Yes absolutely — in combination with the right cables — a power bank in your satchel or handbag can be a very convenient back up power supply for your phone, mifi or other USB-powered/chargeable device. These days they are increasingly good value for money and can often be found in your local dollar store.

I don't use my power bank devices as a source of charging so much as additional battery capacity, often continuing to run my plugged in devices rather than switching off and charging the on-board battery.

This cute little block stays in my handbag and has been used when I've been out and about and needed to give my pocket wifi a boost. So far I've not managed to drain it but have had more than two hours of additional wifi. This particular one I found at my local "123 Shop" for $8.90NZD.

Q: Is retina display worth the extra money on the iPad Mini?

My advice with any hardware purchase is to get the best you can afford at the time of purchase: whether that's in amount of disk space or the quality of the display. But in the real world we sometimes have to make a call about which features are most important to us. Whether you want to spend $149NZD to upgrade the display to retina or $199NZD to get cellular it's about what gives you best value.

My iPad Mini doesn't have retina display but that's only because I was an early adopter and retina wasn't available when I purchased. My eyes have had Lasik surgery so I consider that it's worth it for me to spend $150 to get a better display but harder to justify spending $599NZD to replace my current device especially as I have a retina display iPad generation 3.
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