Tuesday, October 23, 2012

iPad Mini: Everything You Need to Know

The iPad Mini is finally here. Apple has officially unveiled its iPad Mini, with a thinner and lighter design, which is really light and thin at 0.68 pounds and 7.2 millimeters. As the name suggest, it is a small version of the company’s popular iPad tablet, with a new 7.9-inch screen.

Frankly speaking, it has better specs and it's thinner and lighter than the Amazon Kindle Fire HD and the Google Nexus 7, but much more expensive too.

1. Price and availability

The iPad mini starts at $329 for the Wi-Fi-only version with 16GB capacity. Higher capacities and 4G LTE options are available. Prices for Wi-Fi-only versions are: $429 for 32GB and $529 for 64GB. For the cellular versions, prices are $459, $559 and $659 for 16, 32 and 64GB, respectively. Pre-orders begin Oct. 26. Wi-Fi devices ship Nov. 2 and the cellular models will come about two weeks later, said marketing chief Phil Schiller at an event in San Jose, Calif.
If you were hoping for a $250 starting point, to some extent, you may feel disappointment.

The Kindle Fire HD and the Nexus 7 don't have LTE support at any price point. On the Wi-Fi front, however, both Android tablets have a much better price, specially the Fire HD, which is $199 for the 16GB model. The $199 Nexus 7 will only get you 8GB.

2. The screen

The iPad Mini, with a screen that measures 7.9 inches diagonally, has a larger surface than the Nexus 7 or the Kindle Fire HD, which both of them have a 7-inch screen. The area of the iPad Mini is smaller than the regular iPad, but it's significantly larger than the panoramic Android 7-inch tablets. Here is a comparison.

In fact, the iPad mini's screen has 35% more real estate than the Nexus 7. According to Apple, that gives you a 50% larger surface to browse the web in portrait mode and 67% larger in landscape mode.

It's yet to be seen if the size difference will affect consumer’s decision. My guess is yes, if consumers think the price is competitive enough. Are all the features and the thinner, lighter and prettier design worth the price differential with the Kindle Fire HD? $130 is a lot of money.

The pixel resolution is 1024 x 769 pixels. It's not as dense as the iPad 3 and 4, but at that size it will be much sharper than the previous generations.

3. Cameras

It has a front-facing FaceTime 720p camera, which is better than the one in the iPad 2. It's comparable to the Nexus 7, which is 1.2 megapixels too. The iPad has a backside illuminated sensor and, like its older sibling, it supports Face detection.
But it comes with a 5 megapixel camera on the back. This is something that neither the Nexus 7 nor the Kindle Fire HD have.

4. Processor

iPad Mini uses the same dual-core A5 processor, and it probably comes with the same RAM as the old iPad: 512MB.  Apple says it's basically the same (or better) guts but in a reduced package. Both the Fire HD and the Nexus 7 come with 1GB of RAM. We will have to wait to learn how much RAM it has, though. Perhaps this has been upgraded too.

5. Battery life

Apple claims a 10 hour battery life surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video or listening to music, using its 16.3-watt-hour rechargeable lithium-polymer battery.

The Nexus 7 is rated by Google at 8 hours. Amazon says that their Fire HD has 11 hours.

At its event, Apple revealed it has sold more than 100 million iPads since the product was first introduced in 2010. Obviously, the smaller iPad is clearly aimed at classrooms and readers, two sectors where frills aren't exactly necessary. Whether iPad Mini can sell as well as iPad or not, wait to see in the future.

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