Apple's iPad mini packs full-sized punch but screen inferior: reviews

SAN FRANCISCO Wed Oct 31, 2012 9:59am EDT

Customers gather outside an Apple store before the release of iPhone 5 in Munich early September 21, 2012. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

Customers gather outside an Apple store before the release of iPhone 5 in Munich early September 21, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Michael Dalder

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Inc's entry in the accelerating mobile tablet race squeezes about 35 percent more viewing space onto a lighter package than rival devices from Google or Amazon.com Inc, but it sports inferior resolution and a lofty price tag, two influential reviewers wrote on Tuesday.

The iPad mini, which starts at $329 versus the $199 for Google's Nexus 7 and Amazon's Kindle Fire HD, is easy to hold with one hand, eliminating a drawback of the 10-inch iPad, Wall Street Journal columnist Walt Mossberg wrote in one of the first major reviews of a gadget introduced last week.

Both Mossberg and New York Times columnist David Pogue offered kudos for cramming most of its full-sized cousin's functions onto a smaller device, as advertised.

But the iPad mini's 1024 x 768 resolution was a big step backwards from the iPad's much-touted Retina display, and underperformed the rival Kindle and Nexus, the two reviewers agreed.

Mossberg said Apple chose to go with a lower-quality display because the existing 250,000-plus iPad applications could only run unmodified in two resolutions - and the higher level would have sapped too much power.

"The lack of true HD gives the Nexus and Fire HD an advantage for video fans. In my tests, video looked just fine, but not as good as on the regular iPad," Mossberg wrote.

The original iPad was launched in 2010 and went on to upend the personal computer industry, spawning a raft of similar devices. The iPad mini marks Apple's first foray into a smaller 7-inch segment that Amazon's Kindle Fire now dominates, demonstrating demand exists for such a device.

Apple, making its boldest consumer hardware move since Tim Cook took the helm from late co-founder Steve Jobs, hopes the smaller tablet can beat back incursions onto its home turf of consumer electronics.

"In shrinking the iconic iPad, Apple has pulled off an impressive feat," Mossberg wrote. "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.

"And it has shunned the plastic construction used in its smaller rivals to retain the iPad's sturdier aluminum and glass body."

Mossberg, whose reviews are followed closely by consumers and tech companies alike, wrote that the iPad mini did as advertised by bringing the full-sized iPad experience onto a smaller screen.

He noted, however, that the device was too large to fit easily into pockets. It exhibited battery life of about 10 hours and 27 minutes, an hour more than the Kindle Fire at the same settings, but about 17 minutes less than the Nexus 7.

"By pricing the Mini so high, Apple allows the $200 class of seven-inch Android tablets and readers to live," Pogue wrote.

"But the iPad Mini is a far classier, more attractive, thinner machine. It has two cameras instead of one. Its fit and finish are far more refined. And above all, it offers that colossal app catalog, which Android tablet owners can only dream about."

(Reporting By Edwin Chan; Editing by Ken Wills)

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Comments (3)
Will-Cal wrote:
There’s another new series of tablets released this month — one is the Novo 7 Flame – a 7 Inch 32GB tablet priced at $189 at a site called TabletSprint – with a 1280×800 High Resolution screen, 2nd Gen Dual Core CPU, MicroSD portable storage, an HDMI connection to your TV with full 1080p (HD) – great for movie downloads, 5 megapixel Rear Camera with AF & Flash and a 2 MP webcam; plus great connection — Bluetooth, WiFi, Ethernet, and an option for 3G… The tablet is made by Ainol Electronics, which received “Best Tablet of the Year” – runner-up status at CNET/Consumer Electronics Show 2012 — And they also have introduced two new 10-inch tablets with high resolution screens — one has most of the same features as above, with a Dual Core processor and a 1280×800 IPS display for $220; and a similar model that offers a powerful Quad Core with a stunning 1920×1200 Liquid Crystal display (like Apple’s Retina screen) for around $269 — all offer a pretty nice specs/price ratio — one of the first online sites to offer this new line of tablets is TabletSprint – which also has a few tablets with 3G built-in as well.

Oct 30, 2012 12:41am EDT  --  Report as abuse
eMJayy wrote:
The mini’s screen is inferior because the processors used in the device are also inferior to those used on the Android devices in that class of tablet. Android devices such as the Nexus 7 and Kindle HD use processors that are more than 2X more powerful than the outdated iPad 2 processors Apple chose to use in the mini. The mini is really just old technology from 2011 that is being recycled yet again and sold at a premium. Don’t expect this device to be able to handle new iOS features when the next upgrade of iOS is released next year. It’s already obsolete as far as hardware goes. Even kids’ tablets running Android now have much faster processors than this mini tablet.

Oct 31, 2012 5:38pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Nomad-CA wrote:
“…it offers that colossal app catalog, which Android tablet owners can only dream about.”
The guy is either never used Google Play store and don’t know how many apps really there, paid by apple, or just stupid…

Nov 01, 2012 11:52am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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