My needs are simple, to be able to mostly read and blog while in waiting rooms or traveling. I don't play games and though I haven't really done any streaming of movies and shows, I think with a tablet I will. There is a bit of a price cap - if I get the iPad it will be without cellular, if I get the mini then I will get it with cellular. What about no cellular but getting a separate hot spot? If I get the separate hotspot I'll have the advantage of being able to use it with my laptop. I will tell you that I am leaning towards the mini. It is about the same size as my Kindle (1st edition!), I like the size and weight, but will I have wished I had channelled my inner size queen and gotten the bigger screen?
As for using a hotspot, I know quality of service is dependent on the provider but overall are they worth the inconvenience, do they really save you money and do they provide more security than using a public wifi like in Starbucks?