24 Hours with the iPad mini – Initial Thoughts (Spoiler: It’s freaking awesome!)

I typed this article using the setup above: iPad mini + ZAGGKeys Flex

When rumors of a smaller iPad started to circulate, I was one of the first to dismiss the notion. I guess, in my naivety I went along with Steve Jobs’ “iPad is the perfect size/7-inch tablets suck” speech. Let’s put that down to being well and truly sucked in to the infamous Reality Distortion field. As time progressed and rumors got more frequent, and leaks and concepts started to make their way online, my mindset changed – a lot. I started to see a place for the smaller iPad on the market. In fact, I think it was one of the concepts that convinced me it could work. Kindle Fire’s were selling like hot cakes, and the Nexus 7 was greeted pleasantly. I thought, if iPad can become smaller, Apple’s got a real chance of killing it, like it did the MP3 arena.

The straw that broke the camel’s back. iOS family including iPad mini concept by Ciccarese design.

By the time I’d had my iPad 3 (I’m calling it that for convenience’s sake) for more than a few months, there were some things I started to hate doing on it and with it. Primarily: holding it. Apple’s third generation tablet is hardly as light and nimble as a ballet-dancing fairy. It’s quite a substantial weight, and I started feeling the edges dig in to my hands when I was playing games, reading, or generally just gripping it for too long. It was too awkward to just let it rest in one hand, so, I just made the best of it, wishing I had something lighter and smaller.

By the time the iPhone 5 event came around, I was longing for Apple to announce a smaller, more comfortable tablet. I’d considered buying the Kindle Fire or Nexus 7, but I wasn’t keen on having a device outside my established ecosystem that I know and love already. So, I pre-ordered the iPad mini as soon as it was available. It arrived virtually 24 hours ago from time of typing this sentence.

Obviously, the first thing I noticed was the display. When you switch on a device, it’s always the first thing that gets your attention. I’d been bracing myself for 7 days, hoping that the resolution wasn’t going to be awful. At 163ppi (1024 x 768 resolution) it’s virtually the same pixel density as the original iPhone. But, it doesn’t look bad at all, as long as you don’t place it directly next to the 3rd or 4th generation iPads. Thankfully, I use it much further away from my eyes than I would the iPhone, making the individual pixels a little less obvious.

As far as I’m concerned, the display is the only negative with this device. Although it has an A5 powering it, app switching and loading isn’t noticeably slow. In fact, its speed hasn’t frustrated me one bit, as it handles all my usage with ease. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a powerhouse by any stretch of the imagination. But, it does what it needs to do.

My biggest pleasure with this device is its size, design and weight. It looks and feels fantagmagastic. (I know it’s not a real word, but, had I used actual Oxford English Superlatives, I’d never have been able to sum it up as well.) The thinness and lightness combine with the svelte curved edges to achieve a sensation of near perfection. I love it. In fact, I love the way it feels and how comfortable it is to hold so much, that my iPad 3 is virtually always being used by my family. The iPad mini is “my precious”. No one else has touched it since it arrived. It’s mine. All mine (insert stereotypical evil laugh here). Its small frame and design makes it exponentially more personal than the larger tablet. Perhaps why I’m having attachment issues with it. The only thing missing is the Retina display, that’s it. Dare I say it: it’d be a perfect small tablet with a Retina density screen.

Apple – this is quite possibly my favorite iDevice yet. Thank you.

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  • zazou

    The display is a BIG letdown..

  • Applefangirl

    When the retina comes to the mini (and you know it will), I may get it.

  • davidj

    @TodaysiPhone Still hate you

  • JeffCunningham1

    What’s your favourite part? Retina Display? A6 Processor? 16:9 Aspect ratio? Bloated price? oh wait it only has the bloated price.

  • davidj

    @sukvinderdass @todaysiphone I’m mad he has the mini and I don’t, it’s a joke, Cam keeps teasing me with pictures of it saying “buy me”

  • shoesmith81

    There will be a retina version in around 6 months :). The only thing that held me back from buying it.

  • davidj

    @sukvinderdass @todaysiphone Can’t find one, been trying to track it down all day

  • ghstbstr

    The price isn’t too high, and the display isn’t bad at all. It just seems like people want too much, also this is only a first generation device so it isn’t going to have the all the best stuff that Apple has to offer in it.
    This is only a 2in smaller size tablet so the price of $329 is a big difference from $499 that the 9.7in costs. What Apple should have done was get rid of the iPad 2, and then I think that the $170 difference would be much more worth it and would be more accepting.
    The display is really nice. I say that because this iPad mini is only my second Apple device as my other is an iPhone 3G, and the iPad mini looks a lot better than that of course.
    So I am really really happy with my iPad mini, and I will be even more happier when Apple gets an official YouTube App like they used to for the iPad.

  • Jasper

    Oh my gosh. It’s the same effing device as every other thing Apple makes. There’s no reason for all of the hype.

  • RileyWave

    The Mini iPad and Nexus 7 aren’t the only new tablets released this week,  the Novo 7 Flame 32GB also just came out which offers a pretty impressive 7 Inch Android tablet priced at $189 at a site called TabletSprint — with a 1280×800 High Resolution screen, 2nd Gen Dual Core CPU, 32GB Memory, MicroSD portable storage, an HDMI connection to your TV with full 1080p (HD) that’s great for movie downloads, a 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 – Two other models are also being released and both are 10-inch tablets with high resolution screens; one offers most features as above, with a Dual Core CPU and a 1280×800 display for $220; and a similar model that features 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 and one of the first online sites to offer this new line of tablets is TabletSprint – which also features a few tablets with 3G built-in as well.

  • seasickdarwin

    Before people make their comments, they should have actually used an iPad mini. I found myself also skeptical about this device. As a first time adopter, I got the highest end ipad 1g. It was, and still to some extent amazing, although it started to show it’s age. I was one of the lucky ones who got a 32 gb mini. I have made it a point to use it nonstop the past few days, including in spotty areas as I am living in flooded NYC. After using this device for awhile, I have come to similar conclusions as the author. People need to realize that this is not just a shrunken ipad or blown up iPod. It is seriously, a different beast. More people have asked to handle this than any apple device I’ve ever owned. People are immediately drawn to it’s size and use ability. The best compliment I can give it, is that the size change has been carefully implemented into their design, because I barely even notice the smaller content through the interface. More importantly, I am consuming information in completely different ways. Most importantly, written content. I was one of the first adopters of the first kindle. I loved it, but it was so limited in the kinds of documents it could read. Please remember how expensive these devices were, especially the kindle dx. I have found that picking the mini up as a primary device is not a novelty, but has become a much comfortable part of my day. It is so light and small that I don’t hesitate going out with this. Reading in bed is ridiculously amazing. The screen, better than most… And for once, not the top premium apple is known for. Everyone complains that the cost is high for a smaller device, which is crazy, because really any complete redesign should be more expensive. I honestly think that this device will be apple’s go to device in the future. This will win people over through use and word of mouth. I have yet to meet anyone who has actually used this for a few days and hated it for its size, design, functionality, and use ability.

  • markusandrezak

    @jmeydam I had it in my hands yesterday, but didn’t buy. Already regret. Excuse even I accept: They only had the huge 64GB version.

  • jmeydam

    @markusandrezak Christmas is coming … Is the display without Retina clearly inferior? Wonder how popular iPad mini will get – I guess very

  • markusandrezak

    @jmeydam I looked at the display. It is inferior to Retina but quite acceptable! No disappointment at all. It’ll be huge. Retina next year.

  • jmeydam

    @markusandrezak Now on the fence – shall I wait for Retina, shall I not … Same for MacBook Air

  • markusandrezak

    @jmeydam That decision, of course, is mainly hormone driven rather than rational. Holding the mini in your hand means you want to own it. ;)

  • jmeydam

    @markusandrezak :-)

  • Light Yagami

    @shoesmith81 i agree that was the main reason I didn’t buy it as well because of the retina display.. pretty sure next year they will upgrade it to A6 chip and better graphic card and camera including the retina display

  • rtomyj

    @JeffCunningham1 Well when Apple starts tracking your every move for advertisements, you’ll get cheaper devices. This isn’t Android. “Free” software thats only free at the cost of the consumers. Apple needs to make money. Google makes a lot of their money through advertisements. Hope you learned something, my friend ;).

  • JeffCunningham1

    @rtomyj Your argument makes no sense. Android isn’t made by the companies that build the tablets. How would this apply to the price difference between PC’s and Macs? The reason they are overpriced is because people are willing to pay extra for the Apple ecosystem and thats fine but it has nothing to do with the tech and I never mentioned Android in my comment. So no I never learned something. ;-)

  • TiP_Cam

    @JeffCunningham1  @rtomyj In essence his is actually right. Both the Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7 are sold at a loss. Google and Amazon hope to make money back by selling apps/software and ad clicks. PC’s have been the same way for donkey’s years. Apple prefers a less risky approach and makes profit from the get go. Always has, always will. People only think the iPad mini is expensive because of the cheaper Android tablets. If you think of it as a smaller iPad and compare it to the price of a $299 base-model iPod touch, you then start to see, it’s one of the best value Apple devices around.

  • JeffCunningham1

    @TiP_Cam  @rtomyj So Apple sells the Mini at a profit. Component cost to sales price difference of $141 as opposed to Kindle HD at $34. OK I get that and then i-tunes is free? nope OK so more profit I get that. But the ipod touch has retina display and an A6 processor. So I’m gonna say Apple is still burning its customers with the Mini. I’m not some Android Fanboy my point is still valid.

  • TiP_Cam

    @JeffCunningham1  @rtomyj Component costs don’t include how much it costs to actually put everything together in assembly, shipping, marketing, R&D.. etc. There are other costs too. Apple makes less on the iPad mini than on its other products. I can’t see how a 4-inch Retina display is more expensive than the iPad’s 7.9″.

  • TiP_Cam

    @JeffCunningham1  @rtomyj iPhone 5 display costs $44 (http://www.macrumors.com/2012/09/19/iphone-5-component-costs-estimated-to-begin-at-199/) iPad mini display costs $80 (http://9to5mac.com/2012/11/04/ihs-teardown-finds-ipad-mini-costs-188-to-build-lg-display-and-au-optronics-also-supplying-display-components/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+9To5Mac-MacAllDay+%289+to+5+Mac+-+Apple+Intelligence%29)iPod touch display is cheaper than the iPhone 5: http://www.idownloadblog.com/2012/10/11/ipod-touch-5g-teardown/Display for the iPad mini costs twice as much as the iPod touch, and yet the device only costs $30 more. It’s great value for money compared to other Apple products.

  • JeffCunningham1

    @TiP_Cam  @rtomyj In 6 months when LG has made a 7.9 inch display and Apple bumps up the processor. I will probably buy one for the same price theses guys are buying them now. Just like the iPad. It’s great value compared to other Apple products because it is subpar compared to other Apple products. But thanks to all the participants in Apples marketing experiment that paved the way for the rest of us.

  • PedroCst

    @JeffCunningham1  @TiP_Cam  @rtomyj Not actually. Thank the design, which is amazing. The writers must be remembering myself mentioning it a few weeks ago.

  • PedroCst

    Now I’d like you to know @TiP_Cam tip_jake to convince me why I should choose the iPad mini in favour of the full-sized iPad if, let’s say, I need to read .pdfs to study for college. I’m also an iOS gamer, but meh…