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11/9/2012
11:10 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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Apple iPad Mini: One Week In

Now that I've spent a full week using the iPad Mini, here are some thoughts on its strengths and weaknesses.

iPad Mini Tablet: Visual Tour
iPad Mini Tablet: Visual Tour
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
I want to love the iPad Mini, but I'm afraid it's going to have to settle for something a little bit less. I've used the iPad Mini every day for the last week, jumping back and forth to a full-sized iPad and Google Nexus 7 to see how its usability compares day in and day out. Here's what I found.

Like the Nexus 7, the smaller, thinner, lighter frame of the iPad Mini makes it much more comfortable for couch surfing. On any given night, I settle in to watch TV at around 10 PM, with tablet in tow. The full-sized iPad can be fatiguing to use for the one or two hours that I surf while catching up on my favorite shows. The iPad Mini is perfect for this.

As with the full-sized iPad, I hold the iPad Mini in landscape orientation (horizontal) most of the time. It feels more natural o me that way, and it negates the on-screen navigation problems caused by the thinner frame around the iPad Mini's screen.

[ iPad 4 or Mini? Read Apple iPad Mini Vs. iPad 4: Which To Buy. ]

Despite the Mini's smaller dimensions, it's just a wee bit too wide to use one-handed for very long. I have large hands and still have to stretch my hand a bit, which causes muscle fatigue after about 10 minutes. The Nexus 7, which has a smaller, narrow display and build, is more comfortable to use in the portrait orientation and to hold one-handed.

After further testing how well apps run on the iPad Mini, I can say with confidence that my initial fears about the processor being underpowered can be put to rest. I loaded some heavy-duty 3D games on the iPad Mini, as well as RAM-intensive music creation apps. They all worked flawlessly and ran without issues. iMovie and GarageBand, for example, were just as quick to use for pasting together movies and recording some sample chord progressions.

Infinity Blade II, one of my all-time favorite iPad games, worked very well -- but definitely loses the impressive visuals thanks to the iPad Mini's inferior screen. Where Infinity Blade II looks absolutely stunning on the Retina Display of the third-generation iPad, it looks merely OK on the iPad Mini.

The screen remains my biggest gripe with the device. If you haven't used another high-resolution screen for several days, you don't notice it much. But if you switch back and forth between a Retina Display iPad or even the Nexus 7, the iPad Mini's display is a big let-down.

I picked up one of the iPad Mini Smart Covers with the device and have used it all week, too. I'm not as impressed with it as with the Smart Cover for full-sized iPads. The iPad Mini's Smart Cover has three segments instead of four. With four segments, the full-sized Smart Covers have one segment that overlaps and magnetically connects to form a strong, supportive triangle under the iPad. This isn't the case with the iPad Mini's Smart Cover. There's no overlap, so the triangular stand is not nearly as strong. Since it is smaller, it also presents a lower viewing angle, which makes the iPad Mini harder to see and interact with. The Smart Cover for full-sized iPads provides a bit more tilt.

I have yet to find any good third-party cases that work well with the iPad Mini. Accessory makers have yet to really ramp up production. I assume by the end of the year there will be plenty to from which to choose.

Battery life is quite good. The iPad Mini easily bests the Nexus 7 and Motorola XyBoard 8.2 by several hours when browsing via Wi-Fi and listening to music. In fact, I've had a hard time running the battery down completely.

At this point, I like the iPad Mini a lot, but I don't love it. The display alone really detracts from the overall experience -- at least if you're coming from a device with a Retina Display. If the iPad Mini is your first-ever tablet, though, you're probably not going to worry about the display too much.

I'd still recommend the iPad Mini over most Android tablets, with the exception of the Nexus 7 or Nexus 10. The iPad Mini's app ecosystem and compatibility with Apple's iTunes music and movie stores gives the iPad Mini a real leg up on the competition.

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GAProgrammer
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GAProgrammer,
User Rank: Ninja
11/12/2012 | 8:12:33 PM
re: Apple iPad Mini: One Week In
I have to chuckle at this article. Every product Apple releases today is "missing something" - the camera is too weak, they ddin't add Retina, blah blah. Then, 6 months later, they release the ALL NEW iDevice, but now it has that missing feature.

It's all just Apple's way of fleecing the fanbois. Even if you want an iDevice, never buy the first one - it's obsolete before it even hit the shelves. "A fool and his money...."

I bought a 3G and I have an iPad2 - those will probably be the last two iDevices that I ever buy. the app ecosystem of Apple and Android are much closer now than they were a year ago. No reason to buy it - I don't care what is "cool and hip", I care about what is best for my money.
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
11/12/2012 | 7:42:13 PM
re: Apple iPad Mini: One Week In
Interesting article and not at all surprising. The screen is just blah and given how excessively expensive even mini is it is nothing but a huge disappointment. Tabs that cost noticeably less have better screens and that although the screen is the most expensive part of a tablet. I think Apple just wants to stress the point that 7" tabs are just junk by selling exactly that.
nedder77
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nedder77,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/12/2012 | 6:05:46 PM
re: Apple iPad Mini: One Week In
What does any of that have to do with anything? You don't use tablet or see a need for a tablet int he first place, why are you commenting about a tablet?

What does tablet use have to do with doing good for society or the world?

and your fanboy comment doesn't make any sense, are your ">$3K per channel, and expensive tower speakers" going to save you when you get sick? Doesn't that makes you a slave to things? Not just to things, but to things that are more than 20 times more expensive than a simple little ipad mini.

Also, how do you go for a job and listen to music while you carry those massive tower speakers? really long extension cord or some sort of cart with car betteries chained together?

dbrown48101
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dbrown48101,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/12/2012 | 6:04:37 PM
re: Apple iPad Mini: One Week In
I am thinking of getting the mini. How does it do with you're work programs? Catching up on work while away from work? I have enough toys already - don't need another.
Jjmfe
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Jjmfe,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/11/2012 | 6:11:16 PM
re: Apple iPad Mini: One Week In
Yes, I'm in with the mini.... wish they'd of released it with retina, but I suspect that will be the first update. I would bet they won't go the full annual cycle before they release it either. Probably March or April... If they do it right after Christmas, that would piss off a lot of Christmas buyers. The only way they could get away with it so soon, would be if they did a major upgrade, processor, etc. I think it's an excellent start. I also like the slim size and fit in my hands. Works very well for me.
Th3SilverSurfer59
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Th3SilverSurfer59,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/11/2012 | 7:12:36 AM
re: Apple iPad Mini: One Week In
Agree. I care less about your "big hand" experience. I was hoping for quantitative and qualitative data for "tablet" apple brand against the android brand and the Surface. Which tablet to get? Are you going to stand apart in the crowd? Which one should "you" get? The questions that consumers WILL be making this holiday season. You also forgot to mention how the iPad mini isn't an innovation, it's just a smaller version, released as an upgrade. All have their pro's and con's but my choice so far, doesn't have an apple decal, and I don't think it will for some time..
CJW2
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CJW2,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/11/2012 | 6:02:13 AM
re: Apple iPad Mini: One Week In
The new Mini iPad isn't the only new tablet released this month -- the Novo 7 Flame 32GB also just launched - which offers an impressive 7 Inch tablet priced at $189 at a site called TabletSprint -- The Novo 7 Flame Android tablet is sleek and compact with a brush metal back cover and offers a 1280x800 High Resolution screen, 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 & LED Flash and a 2 MP webcam; Plus great connection - Bluetooth, WiFi, Ethernet, and options for 3G. The tablet is made by Ainol Electronics, which received a "Best Tablet of the Year" award at CNET Consumer Electronics Show 2012 - TabletSprint - also offers something pretty exciting with each tablet, an option for a free 3G/4G 500MB monthly data plan with full internet access/VoIP calling in the U.S. -- Certainly worth checking out and comparing--
Ampman
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Ampman,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/10/2012 | 5:49:14 PM
re: Apple iPad Mini: One Week In
The writer never mentioned what good he has done for the world, for the society. Do iPad users make the world a better place of just enable them to grab more money for themselves?

People (fan boys) are letting their wants dominate their life, making them slaves to things, taking them away from true purpose in life. I pity them. The day they get sick and die, no eToy will save them.
gustavoike
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gustavoike,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/10/2012 | 5:14:13 PM
re: Apple iPad Mini: One Week In
Big hands or not (and you know what they say about big hands Eric) I dont think the IPAD Mini is for everybody. It's meant to placate customers who are already in the Apple Ecosystem pining for a smaller IPAD. Having said that, Apple will make improvements on this model, likely will give it retina display at some point and slowly move to make it a replacement for the larger IPAD if thats what the market shows Apple it wants. It might even shrink a few millimeters to accomodate your hands and those even less well endowed. Price points will come down as well. It's a good start though, dont you think?
gustavoike
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gustavoike,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/10/2012 | 5:01:46 PM
re: Apple iPad Mini: One Week In
You know, Ampman, this is an incredibly unhelpful bit of info here. You dont comment on the article, you dont comment on the products mentioned. You seem to think people reading this article are interested in, well, you. Nope. Now if you had something interesting to say about the Mini or Nexus, maybe.
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