iPad mini First Impressions: A Tablet In Its Own League

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The iPad mini seems like it's a Google Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire HD competitor, but after spending a few minutes with this device, we think Apple's new tablet is in its own league. The 7.9-inch size is one-hand friendly, but doesn't feel like a shrunken tablet. And while the 1024 x 768-pixel display isn't as sharp as the competition's screens, images looked clear and colorful when we were viewing websites and running a couple of apps. 

More importantly, the iPad mini is actually lighter and thinner than the Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire HD; it's amazingly slim at just 0.3 inches. The aluminum body, which comes in silver or black, feels sturdy. The right side houses the volume controls, while the back has a 5-MP iSight camera. Even in fairly dim lighting, the iPad mini captured sharp images. And this is a device you're much more likely to shoot with than a 9.7-inch slate.

At first, we thought the bezel around the 7.9-inch screen might be too slim, but we had no problem holding the device without accidentally launching apps. Another plus: Apple designed a new Smart Cover for this device, which will come in handy when you want to prop up the mini for viewing content.

At $329, the iPad mini is in its own league in another way. It costs $130 more than the Nexus 7, the Nook HD and the latest Kindle Fire. But given Apple's huge apps advantage -- 275,000 and counting -- we suspect a lot of shoppers will be willing to spend a little extra to get a mini in their hands. Stay tuned for a full review.

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Author Bio
Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief on
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3 comments
  • Annymous Says:

    Full size iPads are too heavy to do stuff if you are going to hold it in your hand for any length of time. It weighs around 1.5 pounds. The iPad mini is only .68 pounds. That is half! But I need to be patient and wait for the Retina display to come out before I buy one! All my other devices are all HD resolution and I not going back to low screen resolution even for the iPad mini! Apple better step up and start to produce them instead of their usual practice of milking a hot product by delaying the technology and incrementally introduce it in each refresh. I want the equivalent of the iPad4 in a mini2!

  • Aaron Says:

    The Yugo was in its own league also, but that didn't make it better than the competition.

    Is the mini a bad device? No, but for the small price difference, you should just go for the iPad 2.

    It never fails to amaze me how form over function can be heralded by the media. Apple makes such a big deal with there resolution and screen densities, then brings out one of the lower resolution devices ... and everyone is happy to pay a premium for it.

    Craziness.

  • Phil T Says:

    I find it somewhat impractical. You could either do everything on your phone or shell out a little more money for a high powered laptop or another, larger tablet. The only reason I would consider buying the new mini ipad is because it is less expensive than its larger counterpart, but if I was going for best value I'd probably pick up an Amazon or Google tablet for 120$ less.