The release of the iPad mini on November 2 is bound to make a splash in the mid-size tablet market. We look at its strengths and weaknesses compared to its biggest rivals, the Kindle Fire HD and the Nexus 7. Here’s our hands-on review of the iPad Mini.
The iPad mini’s screen size is larger than those of its competitors, and its 4/3 format makes surfing easier than on the Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7 (16/10), despite its inferior screen resolution (1024×768 v 1280×800 pixels).
Apple’s beautiful new tablet adds a feature not found on the Kindle Fire HD and the Nexus 7: a 5MP camera boasting automatic focus and face recognition, which can also capture film in HD (1080p). Just like its rivals, the iPad mini also includes a 720p camera on the front that is generally used for videoconferencing.
Apple’s major asset is its extensive range of apps. It’s the Apple Ecosystem, stupid! With its 250,000+ apps that were optimized for tablets, Apple is way ahead of Android’s app store — the marketplace for the Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire HD. Amazon has a better range of reading material, though, which includes e-books and magazines.
The iPad mini may be a little slower than its competitors: the iPad mini specs mention the dualcore A5 processor coupled with 512Mb of RAM, while the Nexus 7 is a real speedster thanks to its quadcore Tegra 3 coupled with 1GB of RAM.
As is often the case with Apple, the new tablet’s price tag could deter some consumers. Despite its largeer screen-size and sophisticated camera, some will question the steep price difference with its competitors. The iPad mini starts out at $329 for the 16GB version, making it $80 and $130 more expensive than the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD with similar storage capacity.
Techheads are still waiting for Amazon and Google’s reactions: both brands are planning to make announcements about the next versions of their flagship tablets soon.
The mini tablet got high praises from tech journalists.
“If you want the full, polished Apple tablet experience in a smaller package, the iPad Mini is worth the premium price,” says CNET senior editor Scott Stein. “Otherwise, good alternatives are available for less money.”
The iPad mini’s quality, for its size bracket, seems to be appealing to several reviewers.
“There’s no tablet in this size range that’s as beautifully constructed, works as flawlessly, or has such an incredible software selection,” said Joshua Topolsky, editor in chief of The Verge.
Like the iPad 2, Apple’s iPad mini does not come with Retina display.But, Engadget editor in chief Tim Stevens lists the tablets display as a “pro,” pointing out that the smaller screen size means more pixel density.
“Colors are very pleasing to the eye and viewing angles, as ever with an Apple display, do not disappoint,” Stevens said.