Reviewing A Mini iPad – The iPad Mini
Reviewing the iPad mini is a hard thing to do. For one, I have mentioned before, the interface for me on iOS has become tiring, although this is starting to feel like a poor excuse for me to try something new. Secondly, I madly loved using the Nexus 7 for five months. The size was great, Jelly Bean 4.1 was excellent and for many apps I found the Android Play Store to be more than sufficient.
However, with the set up that I have currently employed I had this nagging feeling that I did not need a tablet. This was one extra piece of my tech cake I didn’t want. I guess had I been able to efficiently stream my video content from my Mac to the Nexus 7 I may have been more hesitant. Anyway, to eBay I went and gone was the Nexus. I continued my merry life and all was good in the world.
Then it started, small at first, but that niggling feeling grew. Like a tickling in your throat, but never culminating in a cough. I wanted an iPad mini. I’d told myself I didn’t need one, I had no use for it in my tech circle remember! Well, that doesn’t matter much now. I bought one. With 3G no less.
So, while I admit that iOS has been lacking visually for me, the allure of the size, weight, ability to stream content from my computer and outstanding games of the platform were hard to resist.
Ultimately this is an iPad 2 in a smaller, much better constructed package. Nothing less than the sum of those parts but some how it is so much more. I believe that, for me at least, the 7″ form factor is exactly where tablets should be. Any larger than that and you get an arguably better visual feast but the weight and overall size are a turn off. But at 7″ you get something that is portable and yet way more functional than a phone. Even one with a 4.7-5″ display.
I can use the iPad mini with one hand, it involves a bit of balancing and some careful manoeuvring but it can be done. It is wider than the Nexus 7, at 134.7mm vs. 104.5mm but this is of little issue as the mini is best when cupped in both hands with thumbs outstretched to allow for access to the whole screen.
In terms of the physical hardware, the innards are probably* sub par. Dual-core Apple A5 chip married with 512MB of RAM. Compared with the current Android tablets this is somewhat laughable, but lest you forget that this is no skinned device. It is running a fully integrated OS. Could Apple have given it better specs? Yes. Would that have made it better? Yes. Do the current specs matter? Not really. It runs everything perfectly fine. There are a few moments where an App could launch quicker, the iPhone 5 most certainly is speedier, but you will not be disappointed. If you want a better list of numbers wait until they update it later this year.
For the external appearance I couldn’t be happier. It’s beautiful. The aluminium is machined to excruciating detail. There’s a sliver of plastic at the top which allows the various wireless transmitters better access. It has GPS! I had completely forgotten that with the Mobile telecoms iPads you get this as well as the cellular chip. If I ever get a car I’ll be making sure that one of these is in the dash. It would make the perfect in-car system management device.
Oh, and this thing is slim. It’s even thinner than the iPhone 5, which was slim even by phone standards.
The battery life is fantastic. Streaming video for around 90% of the usage I managed to eek out more than 12 hours on a single charge. For a device that can do so much, is so small and light I find this fantastic. I’m a firm believer that this is the future of technology, I’ll expand on this in another post soon.
Now we arrive at the display. This has been a hot point of contention among a lot of people. If it ran the same 2048×1536 that the retina iPad (4) does then this would be the perfect micro computer. It doesn’t, it runs at 1024×768, which I might add is still a great display. I’ve long been the proponent that MOAR pixels is better. It is, but this resolution isn’t as big a deal as people are making it out to be. Can I see the pixels? Yes. Does this mean my eyes will bleed because I can see jagged edges? No. Unless you read a lot, then there is possibly the problem for a bit of eye strain. How have I combatted this issue? I made the text bigger. Simple as that. Normally I go as small as the reading app will allow, here I’ve gone a smudge larger. No problem at all.
As for the ability to access the internet services when out and about I cannot yet comment. I have a Vodafone sim-card in there at the moment, but it gets EDGE, which is worse than standard 3G, so I’ll have to forego a review of that.
There really isn’t much more to be said. It’s an iPad. It’s smaller, it’s thinner, it’s lighter. It’s a mini iPad.
*In reality the device is more than sufficient in terms of performance and specs mean little when this is the case.