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iPad Mini -- The Goldilocks tablet...it's just right
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iPad Mini — The Goldilocks tablet…it’s just right

screen_heroThe iPad Mini looks exactly like its big brother that had been left in the dryer too long and shrunk. It shrunk in every way..size, weight and performance…the first thing you will notice that this little tablet is as light as a feather.

Here are the specs: Height: 7.87 inches (200 mm), Width: 5.3 inches (134.7 mm), Depth: 0.28 inch (7.2 mm) and Weight: 0.68 pound (308 g)..as I said as light as a feather…it makes my iPad with Retina display feel huge..even my Google Nexus 7 feels heavy by comparison. The 7.9′ screen is an IPS display with 1024 x 768 pixels resolution which translates to 163 pixels per inch (ppi)…nowhere near a Retina display but better than an iPad 2.  No question, a Retina display has become the holy grail and it is the next best thing to  printed page for text and a good print for pictures…but time for  a reality check…unless you put an iPad Mini next to a Retina display equipped iPad you will find the display sharp and bright enough for anything you want to do and it really is a nice display.

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It might be worthwhile to look at my tablet history here…I started with an iPad which I subsequently upgraded to an iPad 2 then eventually to a third generation iPad with Retina Display. I used the iPad 2 extensively for reading and as a laptop replacement. I have a keyboard and used it to write Home Technology Montreal on the road or outside on the patio in warm weather. Between the last two iPads I switched to a real laptop..a MacBook Air 11″ and got a Google Nexus 7 tablet which I used reading eBooks and as my on the road tablet…Over time found myself neglecting the full size iPad more and more.

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Then about a month ago the iPad Mini arrived at my door…no question it is a good looking device..it felt good in the hand although at first I thought the back a little slippery compared to the textured finish of the Nexus 7. I started using it on and off for checking email and reading and gradually it became my go to tablet…it is the one I chose to take on a business trip in mid-December…and now it is my everyday tablet. How did that happen? I don’t really know…it is a shade (32 grams 0.07 pounds) lighter…a bit more than a tenth of an inch thinner but it seems to be the screen that clinched it. On paper the Nexus 7 screen is considerably sharper at 216 ppi but for some reason I find the iPad more comfortable for reading…probably a combination of all the little differences. Perhaps the result of getting used to three previous iPads

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I also like the Apple ecosystem of apps on the iPad. I find apps seem to look and work better on the iPad not to mention that there is an app available to do pretty much anything you could conceivably think of..it probably helps that I use an Apple laptop and an Apple Desktop computer and I like the way they all work together.

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The iPad Mini is a great little gaming device with enough processing oomph to deal with most iOS games..the audio while not all that loud is surprisingly good…good enough to listen to music..it makes a music app such as Orchestra a delight to use. Videos are ok but since the iPad’s screen is not 16:9 HD videos will be letterboxed and a lot lower resolution than most other 7″ tablets.

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IMG_0012The iPad Mini boasts upgraded cameras. Similar to the third-generation iPad, the mini employs a rear-facing 5 MP sensor. Frankly, I don’t see the point people taking pictures with a tablet even a small one look ridiculous. If you have dropped $330 bucks or more on this tablet you probably have a smartphone with a better camera anyway.  The front-facing 1.2 MP camera makes more sense. Using Facetime or  Skype it is is a huge step up from even the third-gen iPad’s .3 MP camera.

 

Now for the elephant in the room…the price…starting at $329 it is certainly the most expensive 7″ tablet you can buy…and the 7″ space has come to be dominated by price with the sweet spot between $200 and $250. So what do you get for the extra $79 to $129…well, for starters it is an iPad, a little one but in every respect an iPad. For most buyers that will be enough. If not, there is a huge choice of less expensive 7″ tablets available.

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Overall the iPad Mini is a great little tablet that does everything with élan. It combines all the strengths of the full-size iPad — a polished and intuitive user interface, huge selection of apps, great screen — in a smaller, more portable package that in many ways makes it more useful than a full-size iPad. For reading books, long documents and comics, the Mini is perfect. The Mini’s smaller size and weight make it the perfect ultra-portable tablet to take with you on the go.

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Bob Benedetti

Former RCAF Fighter Pilot Bob worked for CTV Montreal as a Reporter, Producer and Executive producer for 35 years retiring in 2004. Bob started reporting on personal technology in 1995 at CTV and continues today at Home Technology Montreal

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