This Friday, you'll be able to get your hands on the first entirely new mobile device Apple has created since the original iPad in 2010: the iPad Mini. Yes, the 7.89-inch aluminum and glass tablet is Apple's latest, but is it the greatest? Reviews for the initially divisive device are in, and it seems most gadget gurus who have spent time with the iPad Mini have ended up walking away impressed— with a couple caveats.
"Apple’s masterstroke was keeping the screen shape and resolution the same as on the iPad 2 (1,024 by 768 pixels). As a result, the Mini can run all 275,000 existing iPad apps unmodified, plus 500,000 moreapps... Sadly, the Mini doesn’t gain Apple’s supercrisp Retina display... Over all, the Mini gives you all the iPad goodness in a more manageable size, and it’s awesome. You could argue that the iPad Mini is what the iPad always wanted to be."
"I will say that there isn't a single product in the 7-inch tablet market that comes close to the look, feel, or build quality of the new iPad. It is absolutely gorgeous to see, and in your hand has the reassuring solidness of a product that's built to last... The slightly more diminutive size of the iPad mini does make the experience [of taking photos] slightly better, and its 5 megapixel backside camera is actually not terrible for general shots. In fact, its color tone and low light performance was better than what I've seen on many newer smartphones...There's no question that to the naked eye this screen does look lower in resolution than its nearest competition. Pixels are noticeable, especially in webpages, books, and when viewing email — and that can be distracting sometimes...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."
"In shrinking the iconic iPad, Apple has pulled off an impressive feat. It has managed to create a tablet that’s notably thinner and lighter than the leading small competitors with 7-inch screens, while squeezing in a significantly roomier 7.9-inch display...I was able to use it one-handed and hold it for long periods of time without tiring. My only complaints were that it’s a tad too wide to fit in most of my pockets, and the screen resolution is a big step backwards from the Retina display on the current large iPad"
“'Wow, it feels like a Kindle.' 'Ew, the screen is terrible.'
That was my wife’s initial reaction when I handed her the iPad Mini to see what she, an avid daily user of an iPad 3, thought. Her initial reaction matched mine exactly, and perfectly encapsulates the experience. The iPad Mini is not a device you need to spend a lot of time with to understand... It’s really light and easy to hold one-handed. The hardware design — chamfered edges, less tapered back, metal rather than plastic buttons — strikes me as better, more elegant, than that of the full-size iPad 3/4... The non-retina resolution is the one and only significant complaint I have with the iPad Mini, and it’s an issue that is only apparent to those of us who already own a nearly-new iPad."
"The good: The iPad Mini's ultra-thin and light design is far more intimate and booklike than the larger iPad, and its cameras, storage capacities, optional LTE antenna, and general functionality offer a full iPad experience. The display's dimensions elegantly display larger-format magazines and apps. The bad: The iPad Mini costs too much, especially considering the lower resolution of its 7.9-inch non-Retina Display. The A5 processor isn't as robust as the one in the fourth-gen iPad and iPhone 5. Typing on the smaller screen is not quite as comfy. The bottom line: If you want the full, polished Apple tablet experience in a smaller package, the iPad Mini is worth the premium price. Otherwise, good alternatives are available for less money."
The iPad Mini starts at $329 for 16 GB and Wifi-only. It will arrive at Apple Stores and other retailers this Friday, Nov. 2.