I was fortunate to receive one of the earliest deliveries on the Apple iPad Mini. I had been impatiently waiting to get my hands on this smaller version of the Apple iPad. Based on my personal preferences and work style, I naturally like the smaller format screens better, as evidenced by my earlier articles on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 and the Google nexus7. I have not tried the new 10″ Google nexus tablet and now that Samsung is able to ship their larger tablets again, there are those of you who may want to look at the larger format. For me, I like the smaller size that I can hold in one hand, the lighter weight and the thinner form factor. I chose to configure a model that was similar to the two competitors that I have, so I chose the 32MB wireless version of the iPad Mini for $634.99. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but here’s my summary after two days of usage:

  1. The battery life seems reasonable on this model. I don’t stream a lot of video, but do run apps, email, web browsing and other normal business use of the product. Apple claims a run-time of around 10 hours, and I’m currently getting about 8 hours.
  2. The speed is reasonable. Since the Apple iPad Mini uses the same processor as the iPad2 and the new iPad, the performance was quite acceptable.
  3. Since the resolution (163 pixels per inch or ppi) is lower than the iPad 4 Retina Display at 264 ppi, yet higher than the iPad2 at 132 ppi, it was clear that the displays of photos and other visual content was not as good on the Apple iPad Mini as the iPad Retina, but certainly passable.
  4. The product heats up with usage, but it is not nearly as bad as the new iPad(3) unit overheats.
  5. The product is too wide to hold comfortably in one hand. I had my wife try holding this unit as well as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, Google nexus7 and Kindle Fire HD. She could not conveniently hold the Apple iPad Mini nor can I. My hand fell asleep holding the product while using it earlier today. Not being able to hold this in one hand is a major drawback on the smaller unit. Single hand operation is critical to commuters as well as many other situations.
  6. The weight of the unit is slightly over 11 ounces and that reduction in weight compared to the larger format units is appreciated. I don’t have the postal scale to weigh all of the 7″ tablet competitors side by side today, but will update this post with that information when I do the “weigh in”.
  7. Comparing the iPhone 5, new iPad and iPad Mini iOS 6.0.1 side by side was an eye-opener. I updated all of my units to the most current release from Friday, November 2 before running the comparisons and I was amazed how many of the settings were different on all three products. This fact is almost worth another post by itself. Certain features I turn off were turned back on in all three units, but not the same features. I’m still trying to figure out exactly why. The iPad mini connected to iCloud automatically although during the setup process, I specifically chose the options to not connect. I wanted to see the native install without any accidental settings updates from iCloud.
  8. The keyboard buttons are slightly too small and close together to allow convenient typing, but they are passable.
  9. Although somewhat expected at this point in the game, some applications seem to be confused if the product is an iPhone or an iPad. Some of this may be issues in my own setup procedure.
  10. Key business apps like email and Citrix don’t work the same on the Apple iPad Mini as they do on the larger iPad models.
  11. The 5MP camera is quite acceptable and similar to the larger iPad although I believe the 8MP iPhone 5 camera does outperform the Apple iPad Mini camera as expected.

Unfortunately, my recommendation is to stay with the larger iPad or consider one of the competitive 7″ tablet products. The primary objection is the product is too wide and too slow to compete favorably with the other advanced 7″ tablets. I really wish this recommendation had come out differently.

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About rpjohnston

Randy is a nationally recognized technology consultant and speaker.

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