Whether you'll like the iPad Mini has a lot more to do with your physical health than you'd think it would. How healthy are your eyes? How big are your hands? How strong are your forearms? How acute are your ears?
If the answers are "very," "not very," "not very," and "very," respectively, then the iPad Mini will serve you well. Those with weak (or just discerning) eyes may think otherwise.
What is it?
It's an iPad 2--the one right before the Retina Display iPad--but shrunk, from a 9.7-inch diagonal screen to a 7.85-inch diagonal screen. Same screen, same processor, same storage options. There honestly is not much else that's different. It has a different charging port, I guess? Oh and the magnetic smart cover has padding on the magnets so it doesn't scratch up the side of the Mini.
But, you know. It's an iPad but smaller. Next section!
What's good about it?
It works just like an iPad, and iPads are great! Simple to use, responsive, a bazillion apps (many of which are designed just for the iPad, unlike Android's tablet offerings). Apps are frequently incredible: futuristic magazines, great music and video apps, newspapers and books and games and utilities. Games in which you physically tilt the iPad around, like in racing games, are much easier on the Mini than the big iPad. There's nothing a big iPad can do that the Mini can't. The hardware is luxurious and tiny; only 7.2mm thin, only 0.68 pounds. It feels immediately more expensive and classy than any of the competing little tablets, even though I very much like the leathery Nexus 7. But the super-thin, minimalist glass and aluminum of the iPad Mini is pretty much tops.
Reading, mostly, is much better on the Mini. The Kindle app feels, suddenly, non-silly. It's not crazy to use the Mini to read on the subway; the size and weight make it feel much more like an ebook reader, and it slips into a jacket pocket or bag without adding much weight. Compared to other 7-inch tablets, I think the screen size and ratio--it's a 4:3 screen, squarer (and, as we found out, classier) than an Android tablet's 16:9--is much easier to use for everything but video. Web browsing is so much more comfortable, and you can fit more in an app, especially with multi-pane apps like a chat app or a Twitter app.
Other folks had trouble with the keyboard. I did not; it's not like the full-sized iPad keyboard is all that good, and my two-fingers-and-a-thumb technique carried over just fine. And, actually, when holding it in portrait (upright) mode, you can thumb-type on it just like an iPhone. It's not great, but I didn't have any particular issues with it.
What's bad about it?
Well. I have strong eyes and a weak body, so I like the Mini a lot. But it has the same resolution as the iPad 2, which means it's not nearly as sharp as the bigger iPads, and, actually, not as sharp as the otherwise-inferior Kindle Fire and Nexus 7. (It clocks in at 163 pixels per inch, compared to 216 pixels per inch for the other tablets.) And I definitely found it to be more reflective than other tablets, let alone electrophoretic devices like the Kindle and Nook. The Mini fears the sun! And reading in general is less pleasant than on a Kindle or Nook, just because there's an LED light shining at your unblinking, enraptured eyes for hours at a time.
But the bigger problem is that iPad apps run natively but scale down for the smaller screen. I like small text, so I had no problem reading, say, the New Yorker on the Mini--but the text is much smaller, and there's no way to increase the size. Magazines, which are one of the best things to do with an iPad, are definitely a little bit tougher on the Mini. It's not just text, either--gorgeous photography in National Geographic or, uh, Popular Science just doesn't wow in the same way it does on a fancy high-resolution full-sized iPad. Video looks kind of silly. It's better than on a phone, I guess, but there's an awful lot of letterboxing due to the screen's length-width ratio.
It's also definitely last-gen internals; there are slight hiccups as you whiz around iOS. Opening apps or swiping between screens sometimes caused a stutter, unlike the slick clay marl smoothness of the iPad 3 or 4. I don't care about this as such, but it's a bummer when compared with the full-sized iPad. For what it's worth, I found the Mini much speedier than the Kindle Fire and moderately faster than the Nexus 7.
What's it cost?
It starts at $330, with 16GB of storage and no cellular (4G LTE is available). If you're going to buy this, that's the one to get--if you opt for cellular or more storage, you'll very quickly get into the price territory of the full-sized iPad, which is, you know, better.
I'd definitely recommend the Mini over the competing Android tablets, but that doesn't necessarily mean I recommend it. It's still very expensive and very frivolous. Nobody needs a tablet, is the thing, so if you're going to get one, I'd say go all out and get the best one, which in this case is only half again as much money. I guess it'd make a nice gift, if you're a very specific rich person who likes giving $330 gifts but not $500 gifts.
As a standalone gadget, I think it's great. It does all kinds of stuff and it does them all pretty well, with just a few problems for those with weak eyes. It's weird to get this precise with cost, but I think at $250, I'd be saying something different--I'd say, this is a crazy deal, just like what I said when Amazon showed their $80 Kindle. "It's basically as good and so cheap!" But at $330, the iPad Mini is still pretty expensive. It's not an impulse item, it's not a stocking stuffer. No sane person would have both a Mini and a Big Boy iPad, so if you're getting an iPad, or, really, if you're shopping for a tablet at all, go for the Big Boy iPad.
that's a long way to write the truth.
its great but overpriced compared to its competitors. kindle fire hd, nexus 7, nook tablet all do 95% of what the mini does for hundreds less. all 3 are excellent and well made. no sane person would choose to spend 350-600 bucks for then mini unless they just love apple and blowing cash.
The new Mini iPad isn't the only new tablet released this month -- I recently reviewed the Novo 7 Flame 32GB which also just launched - and it offers some pretty impressive features -- it's a 7 Inch tablet priced at $189 at a site called TabletSprint -- And this tablet is sleek and compact and offers a 1280x800 High Resolution screen, Dual Core CPU, 32GB Memory, MicroSD portable storage, an HDMI connection to your TV with full 1080p (HD) that's great for movie downloads, a 5-megapixel Rear Camera with AF & LED Flash and a 2 MP webcam; Plus great connection - Bluetooth, WiFi, Ethernet, and options for 3G. The tablet is made by Ainol Electronics, which received a "Best Tablet of the Year" award at CNET Consumer Electronics Show 2012 - There's also two other models that are also being released in November and both offer 10-inch displays with high resolution screens; one is called the Novo Hero & includes most features as above, with a Dual Core CPU and a 1280x800 display for $220; and a similar model called the Novo Captain that offers most features of the new Nexus 10 - Plus an even more powerful Quad Core CPU; and a 1920x1200 Liquid Crystal display (like Apple's Retina screen) for $270. All provide pretty nice specs and pricing and one of the first online sites to offer these new models is TabletSprint -- which also offers with each tablet an option for a free 3G/4G 500MB monthly data plan with full internet access/VoIP calling in the U.S. -- Certainly worth checking out and reviewing --
I understand that there are a lot of Anti-Apple people out there, and I understand why from the plethora of posts regarding the matter. I have no plans to purchase the iPad mini or the iPad 3.. they are both a waste since they are already obsolete. With display technologies exploding I expect an iPad with +15hr battery life during use, and readability in the sun. I don't think we will see that for 1-2 years due to production constraints.
As for my personal devices my choice is Apple, but only for the sole reason that their customer service is amazing. I do like android devices, but seeing friends and family get mawed by those companies when their devices die is unacceptable. Now some apple users have been screwed but significantly less than most other companies (Samsung, HTC, Asus, HP, Dell, Nokia, Microsoft, etc...)
I rather pay hunders more for excellent service on my device when things become troublesome instead of dishing out cash. Btw check out how much it is to replace a galaxy S1, S2, or S3 display VS iphone 3, 4, or 4S through a local smartphone repair business. I know because i run one (:
I would however buy an iPod Touch with LTE so I could ditch my iPhone and go with a $40 data plan using Google Voice as my Carrier! Bet big Cellular would FLIP OUT!! I pay $270 a month now.. could be paying $160 for 4 devices. Anyone good at soldering lol
Tablets are like shoes, you get the size that fits. Because all tablets are basically the same otherwise. It doesn’t make sense to buy one or the other because 1 in 1,000 apps “works better” on one or the other. And like you said, nobody “needs” a tablet, they’re frivolous. Then why make a blanket recommendation to buy the most expensive one – that is also the least portable? This seems like a very unsound recommendation. Size of the hands and overall physical strength do make a difference, as you yourself so carefully admit. THAT is what determines what model of tablet one buys, not the mindless belief that “bigger is better”. The fact is, Steve Jobs bias against smaller tablets was a colossal error.
When you evaluate tablets, you have to consider all current offerings, which also include 5-inch tablets – unfortunately, most reviews tend to compare the one being featured and it’s main competitor. I have a 5-inch tablet, the Galaxy Player 5, and it’s fantastic. I’ve had it for over a year and use it every day, standing, sitting, lying down, in every room of my house, even the car, where the GPS works without wi-fi, which is a very valuable bonus since I don’t use a cell phone. It’s great for reading, web surfing, playing music, previewing movies, maps, and every other app I’ve downloaded. I’ve never wished it were bigger, or smaller. There are really no apps that absolutely require a 10-inch screen. I had a 7-inch tablet last year for about a week and noticed my arm got tired holding it, and it didn’t really fit in my hand (and my thumb got numb), so I tried the 5-inch Samsung and immediately loved it. The great thing about the Samsung Player 5.0, or should I say Android operating system, is that text is re-sizeable, in all the reading apps, which the Apple devices apparently can’t do (based on many user comments), so text is always the right size. For the times I use it in the car, the 5-inch size is critical. If I were to make a blanket recommendation, it would be to consider either a 5 or 7-inch tablet, based on hand size and physical strength, either offers a portability that the 10-inch simply doesn’t, with the 5-inch even being pocketable, which is an undeniable advantage, if only to carry it out to the car or to another room and your hands are already full.
The Galaxy Player 5.0 also has a micro-SD slot and uses a regular USB cable for recharging (unlike Apples proprietary cables which are incompatible even with other Apple devices), for about $230 or so. Interestingly enough, there’s also a 4-inch Galaxy Player and a 3-inch model, perfect for a dedicated MP3 player.