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

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?

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Categories: iPad mini

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  • Rawrzore

    I think I just read the most Mac loving article ever… I think that they might of just had a macgasm, the one guy with the Mac pro and the mini was just the kicker for me, I love my iPhone, I love my 2006 MacBook, I hated my iPad and this new mini is just as useless… I get home and use my MacBook, at work I use my desktop or my iPhone, there is no place in this world for tablets that we cling to, if you use a iPad in public you just look like a douche…

    • Raven-X

      Why would you not use an iPad in public? Where is it meant to be used? Any tablet for that matter? At home a desktop is preferred, at work a desktop is preferred, at the library with a power source a laptop works best…. But tablets are meant for those on the go. As a student in lectures for 8 hours a day, my laptop would not survive. I choose to goto a laptop, where all my books were accessible, and I never had to string a power cord 20 feet to my desk with people tripping all over it. My ipad weighed a fraction of one book, let alone the 8 books I would use regularly on it. In my clinical setting, I was able to quickly pull out the tablet and look up my drug references, or disease pathologies while fellow students were sent to the hospital reference library to dig through thousands of possible pages. My iPad was big then at times, when entering patient rooms and trying to manage that, with other items. A mini would be ideal in that setting… Where else would the mini work …. Poolside of course when on vacation … Talking about looking like a douche…. If I saw you poolside with a macbook in your lap and your powercord strung across the ground 30 feet to one of maybe 2 power outlets anywhere near it, I would look at you like some douche/idiot…

      Just because you bought something you didn’t need, because it was popular, and you really didn’t need it, doesn’t make it stupid for everyone else that did. Both the iPad and the mini have their market place, and in many ways surpass usability when compared to laptops. As for the mini…. To be honest, IMHO if it wasn’t for previously purchased apps all ready on my other devices, I would consider a kindle fire before ipad mini. But, for now I still have an iPad 2, retina not needed, as its a functional working device, not a toy. No need to buy anything else until its usability runs out. With the quality it is, I am guessing I will be using it much much longer.

      • http://trishussey.com Tris Hussey

        Raven I’d love to hear more about how you use your iPad in school and hospital.

        • Raven-X

          A lot of my reference books and text are available in an ebook form. But as a nurse one of the most useful apps I have encountered is pepid it has a 14-day free trial. $295 per year subscription. Nice thing is is you can delete the app after 14 days, and use a “new” email address to reinstall. If your savy though, its not too hard to find where the expiration date is for the trial and change that… ;)

          Its not just an iOS app, its available for most platforms and PC/MAC as a web resource. try pepid (dot) com for complete list of available platforms and applications installable. Just looked now, it also has installable platforms for physicians and PAs as well. One looking mighty interesting at the moment is primary care plus. I may have to add that one to those installed under the pepid app.

          Now … another huge resource, but not as friendly as pepid is Skyscape. the app is free, but it has tons of installable references. Every drug guide imaginable, and most medical references you can imagine. Pepid is quicker for cross referencing within its own database, but skyscape was very effective for cross referencing between various medical references, and any textbook they have available as well. I never found an effective way to reduce skyscape cost however….

          Both resources offer outstanding drug guides. Skyscape has various popular drug guides converted to their format, pepid has their own stand alone resource. Pepid in this case is easier to navigate and automatically can calculate doses for you from the reference. Skyscape updates more often, as its supported by the specific drug guide company you may purchase it from. However, the guides in skyscape are more like looking at an ebook than actual app. (if that makes sense)

          I just noticed your a Mod .. so if you can access my email address feel free to drop me an email and I can answer any specific questions you may have.

          • http://www.facebook.com/THExREALxTACO Jeremy Taco Patterson

            Great to see intelligent responses here. This place has many intelligent visitors who WOULD leave more responses like this, but they immediately get inundated with “Apple Sheep”, “Fanboi”, “Drink more Kool-Aid”, etc instead of reasonable debates from opposing standpoints.

            I have found that my iPads have become little more than Media and Game devices for my kids, and I am okay with that. My son (9) plays games and watches movies and videos on my iPad 2 while my daughter (4) uses my original iPad to watch cartoons and play games as well.

            I may get my son an iPad Mini and reclaim my iPad 2, or I may get the Mini for myself and let him keep the 2… Haven’t decided yet.

        • Raven-x

          maybe lag or maybe not my reply seems to have disappeared. I hit you up in linked in. Feel free to connect, and email me. Invite was sent as Louis M.

  • http://twitter.com/skidtech tskwierc

    I have an Iphone and the problem is that I do want something bigger sometimes but not as big as my Ipad to keep with me when I have to Remote in my computer do a long email etc. when I am on the go. Its the only reason why I have been tempted to buy a larger phone in the past from what Android offers. I still view my Iphone as a phone first never really want to do all my work on it, never have. The mini will be a good small device that I can keep with me all the time that will still play nice with my other apple devices but big enough that I am not constantly zooming in to every little thing. Regarding the price difference from the competitors, if money is a big issue then certainly that is up to an individuals decision, but for me I would rather make the investment up front knowing I can recoup most of my money later to upgrade to something better later.

  • Boyboy

    iPad mini with retina will be for iPad mini2 coming up next.. Always must have something to sell later ..if all is given now there will be no iPad mini2!

    • mkimid

      I agree with your forecast, Apple may release iPad mini retina. BUT, there is a big problem. To use Retina, they need to upgrade processor, and it will force them to increase the battery capacity(size, thickness). and then, they will lost major advantage of iPad mini again.

  • Discreto

    I already have an Ipad 2 and Iphone 4S, I love them both but my Ipad 2 is nice to have around at my home, but it is heavy and uncomfortable to carry out unless its in my briefcase. Besides, its wi-fi only and my preferred apps need internet, so that is why I have pre-ordered the Mini with both Wi-Fi + 3G.
    Before it was announced, my son said he would buy also a Mini if the price would be under $300 knowing that if so, the Mini would kill the Ipod, so he is one the Mini high price deterred him from buying one.
    Another thing, if I get to choose between a Retina display or having Siri, I would always prefer Siri over a higher resolution display. I really enjoy dictating rather than writing everything as I already do on my 4S. The Mini has Siri and the Ipad 2 doesn’t.