Here at TiP we’re not lucky enough to be in Apple “circle of trust”. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t get given Apple products to try and review, we go out and buy them with our own cash. So, when it comes to pre-release reviews, we have to hunt out the “big guys” who are fortunate enough to get time with the devices before anyone else. On that note, here’s a roundup of what everyone’s saying so far:
The reviewer at CNET loved the design, look and feel of the new, smaller iPad. To quote them, it makes it much more “intimate and booklike than the larger iPad”, which is a huge plus. And, is in fact one of the main reasons I purchased the iPad mini on Pre-Order day. There are some things which the large iPad just isn’t suited for, and one of those is one-handed book reading and web-browsing.
“The iPad Mini’s ultra-thin and light design is far more intimate and booklike than the larger iPad, and its cameras, storage capacities, optional LTE antenna, and general functionality offer a full iPad experience.”
On the negative side, it’s a running theme (and impossible not to notice) that the price is much higher than its competitors. It simply “costs too much”.
Walt Mossberg at AllThingsD is one of the most respected figures in tech journalism. He’s one of the few people in online media that’s been lucky enough to speak to Steve Jobs and interview both him and his successor, Tim Cook. Again, for Walt, the size and weight are both huge attractions. The iPad – for many people and functions – is too big, and the lighter, smaller package offered by the iPad mini is a huge advantage.
“In shrinking the iconic iPad, Apple has pulled off an impressive feat. 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.”
He spins the price in to a positive by stating that it is more budget-friendly than the larger iPad, and may suit people who always wanted – but couldn’t afford – to invest in an Apple-branded tablet. Although, he does mention it along side its competitors and concludes that in almost every way it’s better than the 7-inch tablets out there, except for its price point.
Battery life, camera and size were all noted by the Guardian as being great aspects of the smaller iPad. Even watching video on the non-Widescreen display was no worse than the Nexus 7, which does have a 16:9 ratio screen. The thinner bezels on the iPad mean that between the border and video content, there’s less border around the image on the iPad.
“…you get some pretty hefty letterboxing here too. Here’s the thing, though: because the border around the long edges is so much thinner than at the edges, the overall effect is no worse than the Nexus 7; given that proportionally less of the space is lost to the border, you could argue it’s a less compromised experience”
On the downside, price comes to the forefront again. It also comes in to some criticism for not having a HDMI output, although Apple does make a compromise by offering AirPlay connectivity to stream content to an Apple TV.
John Gruber, famous among the Apple fans out there reports that the iPad mini is his idea of the perfect form factor, but without a Retina display it is short of being his idea of the perfect all-round tablet.
“It’s really light and easy to hold one-handed. The hardware design — chamfered edges, less tapered back, metal rather than plastic buttons — strikes me as better, more elegant, than that of the full-size iPad 3/4. But it’s disappointing to go non-retina after using the retina iPad for the last seven months. All of the accolades and advantages of retina displays work in reverse. I adore the size and form factor of the iPad Mini, but I also adore the retina display on my full-size iPad. My ideal iPad would be a Mini with a retina display.”
Engadget’s Tim Stevens also mentions the resolution envy you might feel towards the larger Retina-equipped iPads, but takes some time out to note the performance results from standard benchmark tests.
The Verge is fast becoming the go-to place for all things tech, and its micro-celebrity chief, Joshua Topolsky has been fortunate enough to have some time with Apple’s smaller tablet. He notes that although the price is higher than its Android competitors, it’s worth the extra cash, and gives the iPad mini an impressive 9.0 score.
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’s pretty much all good news from Slashgear’s Vincent Ngyuen. In his wrap up at the end he mentions how the iPad mini is just as perfect an example of Apple product as anything else, and that it does stand on its own in the market place. Chief reasons for this are its size, and the apps and content readily available for the 7.9-inch tablet.
Instead, the iPad mini is a product that’s resolutely “Apple”: it distills the essentials of the 9.7-inch iPad – iOS app compatibility, multimedia functionality, premium build quality, and comprehensive connectivity – without diluting them to unnecessarily meet a budget price point the company has no real interest in achieving. The iPad mini isn’t a cheap tablet in comparison to $199 Android-powered options, but it feels better in the hand, has a huge number of applications specifically intended for tablet use, and delivers what it promises to in a cohesive and predictable way.
Bloomberg’s editor responsible for the story re-iterates again just how small and impressively light the device is. It’s a joy to hold.
The most striking thing about the mini is in how thin and light it is. It is really thin and light. Crazy thin and crazy light, even.
Despite the mini’s larger screen, at under 11 ounces it weighs a full 21 percent less than the Kindle Fire HD, and 9 percent less than the Nexus 7. It’s also 30 percent thinner than either of them, thinner, in fact, than a pencil.
Harry McCracken of Time is another of the few journalists to ever have spoke to the iconic, late Steve Jobs. Price is a big thing, and he notes that if you only have $200 to spend, there is the Android market to consider. But, if you’ve got the extra cash, the iPad mini will prove its worth by offering the best all-round experience in the compact tablet market.
If your budget’s got more wiggle room, the iPad Mini is the best compact-size tablet on the market. Apple didn’t build yet another bargain-basement special; it squeezed all of the big iPad’s industrial-design panache, software polish and third-party apps, and most of its technology, into a smaller thinner, lighter, lower-priced model. The result may be a product in a category of one — but I have a hunch it’s going to be an awfully popular category.
Last, but not least, TechCrunch’s MG Siegler got his hands on the device. Although price, size and performance come in to question again, he makes a point of stating that from Apple’s point of view, it’s not about the price of this versus the others. It’s about how cheap and small they could make the iPad 2.
Apple isn’t looking at this as $329 versus $199. They’re looking at this as an impossibly small iPad 2 sold at the most affordable price for an iPad yet. In other words, they’re not looking at the tablet competition. This isn’t a tablet. It’s an iPad. People love these things.