The embargo on iPad mini reviews lifted last night, and so this morning we awoke to all the big publications having their reviews out — while the rest of us still wait for delivery this Friday. The general consensus? It’s small, nicer to hold, and generally excellent, but the screen is lacking, and it’s pricey.
At Engadget, Tim Stevens said:
This isn’t just an Apple tablet made to a budget. This isn’t just a shrunken-down iPad. This is, in many ways, Apple’s best tablet yet, an incredibly thin, remarkably light, obviously well-constructed device that offers phenomenal battery life. No, the performance doesn’t match Apple’s latest and yes, that display is a little lacking in resolution, but nothing else here will leave you wanting. At $329, this has a lot to offer over even Apple’s more expensive tablets.
The actual iPad Mini display is not terrible. It’s exactly what you think: it feels like an iPhone 3GS display cut to iPad size, including the fact that the pixels seem deeper from the surface of the glass. (It does seem brighter and more vibrant than a 3GS display, perhaps because it uses an IPS panel.) And after a week of using it as my main iPad, the individually discernible pixels are no longer jarring to my eyes. 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.
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.
I was really surprised with how much I used the iPad mini in my daily routine — more than the 10-inch iPad. There are a couple of things you have to remember with the iPad mini. First, it isn’t just a smaller iPad, but rather it feels like its own device.
But how will a $329 tablet fare in a world of $199 tablets? It’s hard to know for sure, but my guess would be in the range of “quite well” to “spectacular”. Apple has done a good job of making the case that the iPad mini is not just another 7-inch tablet — in fact, it’s not a 7-inch tablet at all. It’s a 7.9-inch tablet — a subtle, but important difference. As a result, it can utilize every iOS app already in existence. And it can access the entire iTunes ecosystem. And it will be sold in Apple Stores.
Joshua Topolsky for the Verge:
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.