iPad Mini Display: Not Good Enough?

The iPad Mini's display has fewer pixels than many of its rivals. But there's more to consider when judging display quality.
iPad Mini Tablet: Visual Tour
iPad Mini Tablet: Visual Tour
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The whole point of the iPad Mini is that it has a smaller screen and smaller footprint, making it easier to carry around and use. Some are crying foul, however, that the 7.9-inch IPS LCD has only 1024 x 768 pixels. In fact, the iPad Mini has been deemed "pixel-poor" when put next to its competitors.

Spec sheet comparisons never tell the whole story. Most of the time, real-world experience is needed to make the right call. That said, here's how the Apple iPad Mini stacks up against some of its direct competitors.

As noted, the iPad Mini's display size and resolution give it a total of 786,000 pixels at 163 pixels per inch.

[ Deciding between Apple's two new tablets? Read Apple iPad Mini Vs. iPad 4: Which To Buy. ]

The Google Nexus 7, which is made by Asus, has a screen that measures 7 inches across the diagonal and packs in 1280 x 800 pixels. The Nexus 7's display size and resolution give it a total of 1,024,000 pixels at approximately 216 pixels per inch.

Then there's the Barnes & Noble Nook HD. It also has a 7-inch display, with 1440 x 900 pixels. The Nook HD's display size and resolution give it a total of 1,296,000 pixels at approximately 243 pixels per inch.

These are the leading 7-inch tablets on the market. Comparing any of them to the iPad 4 is completely unfair, but I'm going to do it anyway. The iPad 4 has a 9.7-inch display with 2048 x 1536 pixels. It has a massive 3,146,000 pixels at 264 pixels per inch.

Clearly the iPad Mini's display is lacking when it comes to the number and density of pixels. That doesn't mean the display stinks, though. Remember the original iPad? It has a 9.7-inch display with the same 1024 x 768 pixel resolution. I don't remember hearing too many complaints about it. In fact, it was praised by most. The iPad Mini's display is smaller, so the pixel density is much higher than that original display.

Apple said it chose this screen size and resolution so as to make things as easy as possible for its developers and apps. Were the iPad Mini to ship without the ability to download and use the same apps available to the other iPads, it would not fare well at all. It's also worth pointing out that the A5 processor inside the iPad Mini probably can't push the pixels of a Retina Display, which has four times the pixels to control. The smaller screen, lower pixel count, and slower processor also help keep the price down.

Of course, there's more to a display than pixel count. Brightness plays a big role in the quality of the display, as does the underlying screen technology (LCD, IPS LCD, Super LCD, OLED, AMOLED, Mirasol, e-Ink, etc.). The quality of the manufacturing and the glass placed on top of the display play a role in how good it looks, too.

One thing we shouldn't do is make snap judgements based on some numbers listed on the spec sheet. Yes, it is a mathematical fact that the iPad Mini has fewer pixels than most of its competitors, but I wouldn't make a purchasing decision on that fact alone.

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