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Apple iPad mini: first impressions of the smaller tablet

updated 08:14 pm EDT, Thu November 1, 2012

Hands-on with the new Apple iPad mini

Electronista has gotten its hands on the latest Cupertino creation, the new iPad mini ahead of its US launch. Since rumors of the iPad mini first surfaced out of the Taiwanese supply chain just over 12 months ago, we have been eagerly anticipating it. As the original iPad remains the tablet by which all others are judged, does the new iPad mini live up to the same standards as its bigger brother?

Our first impressions are very positive. Early reviews have highlighted the excellent build quality and finish of the iPad, a view that we can also testify to. Our unit is the black and slate model with 32GB of storage, and we can report that it is absolutely pristine out of the box and also feels much more robust than the somewhat-controversial anodized treatment applied to the iPhone 5. The anodized coating on the iPad mini feels thicker and much less susceptible to scuffing and more in keeping with the tougher finish found on the larger iPad range.

We can also report that the unit is very light, but while it can be held in portrait mode with one hand, we also found it slightly less comfortable than we had hoped when our hand was wrapped around the back of the device. Holding it with our thumb the front bezel was perfectly comfortable, however. Overall, it is much more manageable than the larger iPad and certainly something we can imagine using a whole variety of scenarios on the go and around the home.

The biggest criticism that has been levelled at the iPad mini is that is does not sport an HD-compatible DPI resolution, nor the even higher Retina display - such as is found on the larger iPad and the new 15- and 13-inch MacBook Pros. While it is plain that it does not match these for reading text, it is still quite acceptable by most standards. By comparison, where the iPad 2 display can be jarring after reading text on a Retina display, the iPad mini, which sports the same resolution (though at a higher DPI because of the smaller overall display size) is noticeably better.

Where the iPad mini really stands head and shoulders above its Android competition is in the ready-made, tablet-optimized apps designed for its bigger brother. Seeing tablet-optimized apps for a smaller tablet really is a revelation. We have been quite happily using our Google/Asus Nexus 7 for the past few months, but after seeing the way the tablet-optimized apps work on the iPad mini, there is simply no going back. The wider 4:3 aspect ratio of the iPad mini also makes the Nexus 7 display seem tiny and frustratingly narrow with its 16:9 ratio.

Electronista will provide a full and detailed review of the iPad mini over the coming days. Our first impressions, however, are that Apple has delivered yet another near faultless blend of hardware and software.

by MacNN Staff




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