There’s nothing too shocking about the first wave of iPad mini reviews, which hit the web last night.
For the most part, reviewers seemed pleased with the iPad mini’s small size and solid design — it’s less than half the weight of the 4th generation iPad, at just 0.68 pounds, and it’s also thinner than the incredibly thin iPhone 5 at 7.2 millimeters. And many reviewers found that it was more convenient to use than the larger iPad. (That’s something I’ve long been arguing about smaller tablets in general, they’re simply easier to hold for long periods of time.)
The glowing reviews came despite the mini’s low 1,024 by 768 resolution. Apple chose that resolution for the mini’s 7.9-inch screen because it’s exactly the same as the iPad 2, which means all iPad apps will run on the smaller tablet without a problem. But that low resolution makes pixels obvious, and it’s a far cry from the drool-worthy pixel densities of the Retina Display iPads. The mini is also much slower than the third- and fourth-generation iPads, but its convenient size seems to make up for that.
The iPad mini starts at $329 for the Wi-Fi only version with 16 gigabytes of storage, which doesn’t exactly make it competitive against 7-inch Android tablets that go for $199. But, as always, it seems Apple is completely indifferent to its competition.
Compared to cheap Android tablets like the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire, the iPad mini “far classier, more attractive, thinner,” wrote The New York Time’s David Pogue. He added, “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.”
“It doesn’t feel like Apple is racing to some lowest-price bottom — rather it seems to be trying to raise the floor,” wrote the Verge’s Joshua Topolsky. “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.”
And then there’s the screen. “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,” wrote Daring Fireball’s John Gruber.
He added, “For anyone else — those who own an older iPad 1 or 2, and those who have yet to buy their first iPad — the iPad Mini’s display will garner no complaints. I prefer the Mini over the full-size iPad in every single regard other than display resolution, and though I (and many of you) obsess over display resolution, it’s not an issue in the mass market.”
Notably, Gruber admitted that he’s still switching to the iPad Mini, even without the benefit of a Retina Display.
Photo: John Koetsier/VentureBeat