I’ve had hands on with the white iPad mini for 2 days now. It’s incredibly small and light. What a difference. The lack of retina resolution is the only weakness. Extremely small type is most affected. Retina fanatics should check one out at the Apple store, Best Buy or other store carrying one to see the screen and size for yourself.
Which iPad to use when? I can’t tell yet whether the split in use between big and small iPads will be 50-50 or what. It will be interesting to see whether the pleasure of using such a small and light iPad will exceed the pleasure of full-on retina and by how much. But the iPad mini insures that I will have an iPad with me more often. It will especially help for apps that are iPad only like Thinkbook and Paper. Or for iBooks Author ebooks.
Screen Size and Smaller targets. You can adjust the size of type in most iPad apps to adjust for the smaller screen. The smaller buttons and icons work perfectly well in most cases. Any iPad apps size down without a hitch. But, some small things like the text in the bookmarks bar in Safari get really small. It doesn’t pay to try to tap them on the mini. I just type my letter abbreviations into the unified location and search field. The screen is huge compared to the iPhone but that doesn’t eliminate all negative consequences of a screen size shrink. Popular apps will get little tweaks to optimize for the mini in the next weeks. Flipboard has already been tweaked.
Web surfing. Compared to web surfing with an iPhone, the iPad mini is a dream. This little guy will travel well and will be there with your iPhone to help you out when you need a bigger screen. It just won’t help quite as thoroughly as its big brother. Keep in mind that mostly the iPad mini just works and replaces iPad 3 without incident, but I am looking for the flaws and differences here and have found a few.
Advantages. The most important advantages of the iPad mini are the $170 less it costs and its wonderful hand-friendly size and weight. I paid $729 for my 32gb iPad 3 with LTE and $329 for the 16gb wifi-only mini. That’s $400 less. When I need internet and I’m away from wi-fi I can create a personal hotspot on my iPhone and connect my mini that way. I’ll manage with 16 gigs and 1 more LTE device is too many even for me.
Retina mini. A year from now, we will likely have one and the perfect iPad may be realized. I didn’t want to wait a year for a retina version of a smaller iPad. If Apple had chosen to charge $399 and offered this year’s version in retina, I would have bought one and been a little happier I think – retina fanatic that I am. I am not so price sensitive that the cost would have deterred me. But the weight and thickness would have been more and will be more even next year.
The iPad mini will sooner or later cross that retina divide. Meanwhile, I have an awesome little iPad that will let me have access to amazing apps that I love and find essential. Retina or otherwise, most of the time I’m not focusing on the retina or not-retina. I’m reading, learning, writing, drawing, researching and being entertained regardless.