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iPad Mini Won't Have Retina Display

Production of the iPad Mini has begun, further suggesting that the smaller tablet from Apple will launch before the holidays.

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Manufacturers in China have begun assembling a new, smaller tablet computer for Apple, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. Unnamed executives from component suppliers said that production of the tablet is under way. Production typically begins several weeks before Apple brings its new devices to market.

The tablet, which many refer to as the iPad Mini, will have a 7.85-inch screen. The regular iPad's screen measures 9.7 inches diagonally. The most stunning revelation to come from the Journal story is that the iPad Mini's screen will not be a Retina Display. It will use the same liquid crystal display technology that the larger iPad does, but it won't have a resolution high enough to merit the "Retina" descriptor.

Apple first introduced the Retina Display with the iPhone 4 in 2010. The iPhone 4, 4S, and 5 all have screens with resolutions higher than 320 pixels per inch, which is dense enough that spotting individual pixels is difficult. The result is that images look razor sharp and text appears as though it has been printed on paper.

Apple brought its Retina Display tech to its tablet this year with the third-generation iPad. Its display has 2048 x 1536 pixels. At 264ppi, the third-gen iPad's display has lower resolution than the pixel density of Apple's iPhones, but it still outmatches the resolution of most--if not all--competing tablets.

[ Related: Apple iPad Mini October 17 Reveal Eyed. ]

The Journal did not report what the resolution of the iPad Mini's screen will be. Given how Apple prefers to make things easier for iOS developers, it might stick with a resolution that's similar to its other devices. For example, it would make sense for Apple to pick 1024 x 768 pixels, which is the same resolution shared by the iPad and iPad 2. That would be a competitive resolution for a device with a 7.85-inch display, even if Apple can't market it as a Retina Display.

When will this new tablet make an appearance? It is believed that Apple will distribute invitations to the iPad Mini's unveiling as soon as Oct. 10. The unveiling itself might take place on Oct. 17, with an availability date to follow on or around Nov. 2.

The iPad Mini will be aimed at cheaper Android tablets, such as the Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire. These devices are sold at or near the $200 mark. Pricing for the iPad Mini is expected to range between $249 and $349, depending on storage and other options.

Apple has not confirmed the existence of the device, and most features and specifications are unknown.

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User Rank: Apprentice
10/3/2012 | 5:27:45 PM
re: iPad Mini Won't Have Retina Display
I do not believe this product will sell well because most of Apple's customers purchase the products because they are superior. Apple made a product here to compete against cheaper rivals, I think that this product will not appeal to Apple customers and they will chose the regular iPad over this one, and I think that for the customers already purchasing the cheaper tablet alternatives will continue to do so, because even though the product is much cheaper than a standard iPad, it is still not cheaper than a Kindle or Android alternative that offer much of the same features. They are creating a product here who's target consumers look for value, and I do not believe consumers will see the value in this product if it is still more expensive than similar alternatives on the market.
Harry Devlin
Harry Devlin,
User Rank: Strategist
10/3/2012 | 4:48:13 PM
re: iPad Mini Won't Have Retina Display
1400 x 1050 is another currently available display resolution that's proportional to 1024 x 768 (old iPad) and 2048 x 1536 (new iPad), and that would put the dpi at about 223, a tad higher than the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD.

So place your bets:

iPad Mini Display

__1024 x 768
__1280 x 800
__1400 x 1050

iPad Mini Wi-Fi Only GPS

Harry Devlin
Harry Devlin,
User Rank: Strategist
10/3/2012 | 4:38:12 PM
re: iPad Mini Won't Have Retina Display
Unlikely that the resolution will be only 1024 x768 since the slightly smaller Google Nexus 7 tablet is at 1280 x 800 (as is the 7" Kindle Fire HD). That would put the dpi of the iPad Mini at a significant disadvantage, especially since Apple is likely to price the iPad Mini at least $100 higher than the Nexus 7. For an eBook reader, you really don't want less than 200dpi, and at 1024 x 768 with a 7.85" screen that would put the iPad Mini at about 163 dpi.

I think the screen will be 1280 x 800 with a dpi of about 192. That's close enough to the (approximately) 216 dpi of the higher end 7" Android tablets. If they make it 1024 x 768 then they'll be unable to charge a premium price, and Apple _always_ likes to charge a premium price! The developers will just have to deal with another screen size and resolution (five different ones for iOS versus four different ones now). Android developers have been dealing with this annoyance for years, and would love only five different display sizes and resolutions.

It'll also be interesting to see if the iPad Mini includes a GPS, since the present Wi-Fi only iPads lack a GPS, but most 7" Android tablets $200 or more include one. A GPS is a no-compromise requirement for many tablet buyers since it enables the use of off-line mapping. With the current Wi-Fi only iPads you have to use an external Bluetooth GPS if you want mapping functionality, and that adds about $100 to the overall cost (plus you have to carry around another piece of hardware with another battery that needs charging).
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