If you’re deciding between several gadgets to put something under the Christmas tree this year, you might want to consider the iPad mini. For all the inches it shaves off, it offers a truly compelling tablet experience.
Apple had to jump over many hurdles to get where it is today in the tablet space (and not only). Launching the first iPad in 2010 took a tremendous amount of prototyping over several years.
The same can be said about the iPad mini launch. The company had initially (presumably) rejected the idea of making a tablet PC below the 10-inch spec. Two years later, the company’s tablet business matured enough to make new ideas seem just as practical (and feasible).
The iPad mini is one of Apple’s 2012 landmark products. Put the iPhone 5 aside and this thing shines a mile away. Not because it comes in a White & Silver configuration, but because it’s truly brilliant. In every way.
The original iPad was already a marvel – a magical device, as Steve Jobs himself put it. Then came the iPad 2 which built upon its predecessor with a faster processor, and a thinner design. iPad 3 brought the Retina display, and the 4th-gen iPad brings roaring graphics to the table. The iPad mini, on the other hand, engulfs it all in the most portable format ever.
It takes just a few minutes of play time with the new iPad mini to realize that Apple has been able to concentrate everything essential about its tablets to a 7.9-inch form factor.
Many of the things that could only be done with two hands can be done with just one now.
If you’re reading something on the iPad mini, your joints no longer feel strain. Emailing is pure fun. So is browsing the web and watching videos. If you think the screen is small, think again. The iPad mini is all a big display. If you had nothing to compare it to, you probably wouldn’t want to imagine a different tablet experience.
Apple condensed everything to a smaller form factor, which means that those 1024-x768 pixels got a little smaller too. It’s no Retina display, but it’s not something to sneeze at either.
I use both the iPhone 5 and a third-generation iPad and I can say without any remorse that the iPad mini feels much more natural for web browsing on the go, or firing up a utility app.
It’s incredibly light and sits comfortably in my jacket! I can finally shed any excuses to carry around a hefty bag just so that I can also lug my iPad 3 along every day. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my Retina-enabled tablet. It’s just that the iPad mini is winning over some space in my heart.
Design-wise, the iPad mini takes cues from several Apple products. Those shiny edges are the result of the same diamond polishing process used to make the iPhone 5. The back of the device looks a lot like the original iPhone. But any way you look at it, it’s still an iPad.
The iPad mini is crafted with the same level of fit and finish that we’ve come to expect from Jony Ive and his crew of talented designers. There isn’t a single element on the tablet that will confuse you.
The battery life is well within the advertised limits, and Wi-Fi is also visibly stronger. It takes a lot of video playback to warm this thing up – something that the iPad 3 champions every time I hit play on YouTube.
The iPad mini sells for $329 / €329, which is certainly not cheap, but not very expensive either, considering the alternatives from vendors like Google, Microsoft, Acer.
One final note before I end this write-up. I’ve noticed that the iPad mini is a lot less intimidating to people who are first picking up on a tablet device. It makes so much sense as a portable computer that everyone instantly knows what it’s good for. That’s something that no other iPad could master. To this day I hear people asking “what’s the purpose of the iPad?” Indeed, not everyone needs a tablet computer. But the iPad mini is so portable and friendly, it simply doesn’t need an explanation. You just use it!
This is just a preliminary review of the iPad mini based on a few days of use. In the long run, the tablet may pose several limitations that come about when faced with different world-use scenarios. More images below.