iPad Mini Review

I picked up the latest iPad Mini on Wednesday, my experience so far is slightly mixed but overall quite good. I already had an iPhone 5, a Kindle Touch, an iPad 2 and two MacBook Air’s (one for work). Where does this fit in you might ask? My hope was that it might replace my iPad 2, my Kindle and some percentage of my personal laptop (maybe I don’t upgrade as soon as I might have otherwise). So how did it do?

Well over a year ago when we were testing next generation devices at work for field users the BlackBerry Playbook was my favorite simply due to it’s size. Unlike the iPad, it was small enough to use one handed yet was much more practical for complex use than a smart phone. The big thing that brought the device down was its horrible software. While the iPad Mini is a hair wider than the Playbook, it’s significantly lighter and the software is much, much better. At the time the iPad was running circles around every tablet on the market with regard to software speed, quality and features. Today there is much fiercer competition, such as the Google Nexus 7, however I think Apple still brings a superior polish to both the hardware and the software.

One of the other things this form factor also does well with is two thumb typing in portrait mode. Pulling that off on the iPad was a bit of a stretch, and I have big hands. On the iPad Mini this is an easy way to type. While this does not have a retina display, the resolution is he same as the iPad 2 but on a smaller screen, the slightly higher DPI looks decent. The benefit here was app developers didn’t have to change anything to support this device. There have been a few instances where my slightly farsighted eyes have struggled with some small fonts, but it’s probably something that will improve over time as developers become more conscience of screen size verse resolution on iOS devices.

Another key feature my model has is LTE. This is certainly where the iPad has the ability to pull ahead of the laptop. Having the ability to instantly power on and not having to deal with finding a wifi hotspot is a big convenience. Leaving LTE on while on WIFI has no noticeable drain on battery compared to my WIFI-only iPad 2. I’m on AT&T’s Mobile Share plan, which means I’m only paying $10 per month for the convenience, but I do need to watch my bandwidth usage. It’s amazingly quick, nearly on par with my Comcast connection (it actually has faster up speeds).

I have to admit, I was a fairly casual user of the iPad 2. I was a bit disappointed to find that a lot of the apps I have for my iPhone don’t have equivalent iPad apps. Also, while the ability to use single handed does eliminate a challenge during long reading periods, the backlit screen does still seem kind of rough on the eyes. I still plan on experimenting with different contrasts and colors in the Kindle app, the jury is still out on this feature.

After two days usage overall I’m liking it. Given the superior form factor (in my opinion) and the lower price, I can see this is replacing the iPad as top seller.