iPad mini Reviews Flood In—A Device That is a Pleasure to Hold

BY Tris Hussey

Published 31 Oct 2012

Apple’s embargo on reviews of the iPad mini and 4th Generation iPad expired tonight and just like clockwork the reviews started flooding in. I’ve had some time to read and digest the reviews (and reviews of reviews) and give you my summary of them.

Here’s the gist of all the reviews—the iPad mini is a perfect size (so the bit larger than 7 in tablets does make a difference) and is amazing to hold. More than once I read that it was “a joy to hold”. Many reviewers like John Gruber and Jim Dalrymple have found that in spite of the non-Retina screen they have found the iPad mini to be a perfect working tool.

Jim says:

What I found was surprising to me. I actually used the iPad mini more than my iPad.

It’s important to understand how I use my iPad. My iPad is the device I use at the end of the day when I put my computer down, but still have a few things to do. I’m winding down at that point in the day.

I answer emails, check the site and basically get things ready for the next day. Since all of my information is kept in iCloud or services like Instapaper, I have access to everything I need on all my devices. For instance, any links I save using Instapaper are also on my Mac, so I don’t need to worry about where I work or what device I use.

Of course, things are a little different when I travel — the iPad gets more use than normal in airplanes, hotels, airports and meetings.

In addition to using the iPad mini in my normal daily tasks, I also found that I would pick up the mini and use it where I normally wouldn’t use the iPad. For instance, if I’m on a phone call, I would typically use my iPhone to look things up while I walk around or type notes, look at Web sites and things like that. Now, I’m using the iPad mini because it’s compact enough to carry around, but not so large that it’s cumbersome. Via: The Loop— Review: iPad mini

John says:

My travel kit for the last few years has consisted of both an 11-inch MacBook Air and an iPad. It always feels a bit silly to carry two computers so similar in size and weight, but I want my Air for work and I want the iPad for reading. The combined weight of an 11-inch Air and a full-size iPad 3/4 is about 3.8 pounds. The combined weight of the new 13-inch MacBook Pro with retina display and an iPad Mini is about 4.2 pounds. That seems like a better kit for my needs: a far more powerful Mac for work, and a far more comfortable iPad for reading, at less than half a pound of additional weight to carry around.

Both the 11-inch Air and full-size iPad 3/4 make more sense to me as devices for people who only want to carry one portable computer. But if I’m going to carry both, I think it makes more sense to get a bigger MacBook and the smaller iPad Mini.

If the Mini had a retina display, I’d switch from the iPad 3 in a heartbeat. As it stands, I’m going to switch anyway. Going non-retina is a particularly bitter pill for me, but I like the iPad Mini’s size and weight so much that I’m going to swallow it. Via: Daring Fireball: The iPad Mini

As far as the screen goes, yes, that’s what reviewers comment on. I don’t agree with this post—The iPad Mini’s Screen – Business Insider—that everyone find that screen wanting. Yes, I’m sure it is jarring to go from a Retina iPad to a non-Retina mini. Just as it would be to go to an iPad 2 or original iPad. And, yes, all the reviewers made a note of the screen. But here are a couple perspectives that I found interesting (while also hitting the other gotcha of the mini—the price):

Walt Mossberg:

So why did Apple, whose large iPad and new Macs boast extremely high screen resolution, choose a lower resolution for the mini? The company did so because it says there are only two resolutions that allow its tablet apps to run unmodified. One is the extremely high resolution on the current large iPad, which would have boosted the cost and lowered the battery life of the mini. The other, the one Apple chose for the mini, is the same resolution on iPad models consumers have snapped up: The original iPad and the iPad 2, which is still on the market at $399. Via: Apple iPad Mini Review – Walt Mossberg – Personal Technology – AllThingsD

In reference to the iPad 2 still selling well with the iPad 3 (and now 4) available

For many people, retina resolution is nice-to-have, not must-have. Via: Daring Fireball: The iPad Mini,

We’re techies, we’re spoiled. We love the awesome factor. You know what, my mom loves my first gen iPad. Loves it. She tells me nearly every time I call her. My wife, she loves her iPad 2. Uses it all the time as well. My wife doesn’t grab my iPad 3rd gen to look at pictures or movies or play games…it’s fine.

For my reading time (though I do read very fast), the most complete review is The Verge and their final take on the iPad mini is probably the best balanced I read:

The iPad mini is an excellent tablet — but it’s not a very cheap one. Whether that’s by design, or due to market forces beyond Apple’s control, I can’t say for sure. I can’t think of another company that cares as much about how its products are designed and built — or one that knows how to maximize a supply chain as skillfully — so something tells me it’s no accident that this tablet isn’t selling for $200. It doesn’t feel like Apple is racing to some lowest-price bottom — rather it seems to be trying to raise the floor.

And it does raise the floor here. There’s no tablet in this size range that’s as beautifully constructed, works as flawlessly, or has such an incredible software selection. Would I prefer a higher-res display? Certainly. Would I trade it for the app selection or hardware design? For the consistency and smoothness of its software, or reliability of its battery? Absolutely not. And as someone who’s been living with (and loving) Google’s Nexus 7 tablet for a few months, I don’t say that lightly.

The iPad mini hasn’t wrapped up the “cheapest tablet” market by any stretch of the imagination. But the “best small tablet” market? Consider it captured. Via: iPad mini review | The Verge

Yes, the mini isn’t the cheapest small tablet around. Nor does it have the best screen around, but by all accounts the iPad mini is going to make lots of people rethink what they believe about “small tablets”.

So here are  the questions for you:

Have these reviews changed your opinion about the iPad mini?

If you’re planning on getting a mini…which one?