Apple’s iPad Mini Reviews: Powerful Gadget in Small Package but Big in Price

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By Erik Pineda | November 15, 2012 1:01 PM EST

Small footprint and easy on the hand (but not necessarily on the pocket) easily land the iPad Mini on everyone's shopping list, plus of course the excitement that gradually built up on the gadget prior to its unveiling last month by Apple.

Endorsements readily came by the time the Mini reached commercial availability on Nov 2, the strongest perhaps coming from Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal.

Mr Mossberg marvelled at the Apple brand of engineering that was incredibly packed with a gadget that in most cases can easily fit into small bags. It is a dynamo that users can lug along hassle-free, shedding more than half the heft of the regular-sized iPad, he added.

It was nothing short of awesome for the tech giant to design and actually make a small tablet "that's notably thinner and lighter than the leading small competitors with 7-inch screens, while squeezing in a significantly roomier 7.9-inch display," the AllThingsD tech blogger said.

His real-world tests proved that the iPad Mini carries with it all the bangs that came with the previous makes of its bigger sibling with one glaring omission, the Retina display, which for many Apple fans would prove a big letdown.

Lamentably too, the tech giant refused to toe the line, as expected, and priced the Mini starting at $US329, more than a hundred dollar premium to the tablet class models it purportedly guns to annihilate.

It remains a good buy, Mr Mossberg said, if users do not mind the Mini being pricey and its decent image and video rendering in exchange for ramped up portability and general usability.

He noted that the tablet is most useful for e-book readers as it can be handled for extended hours minus the strain.

Joanna Stern of ABC concurred. "The small size of the tablet not only makes it easier to hold up when reading in bed or on a subway, but it fits better in a bag and takes up less room on the nightstand," she wrote in her review.

Yet Ms Stern hastened to add that the missing features from the Mini, specifically the 'stunning Retina', and its price were "not sacrifices I want to make," suggesting that she'll opt to wait out for the next version, by which time Apple would have hopefully addressed the weak links found on the gadget.

The Mini may not automatically lure lovers of small tablets but it is downright cosier when compared to its nearest - Google's Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire HD, CNET said, adding that in effect, Apple again created a new standard in small-tablet design.

If some users would choose to overlook the alternatives, keen maybe on immersing into the new world of mini tablet by Apple, then the Mini should be worth the money for them, CNET added.

In short, it is not a perfect gadget that commands absolute admiration, TechCrunch said, but decent enough to assume the role of an ideal tablet for everyday use. With the iOS 6 deployed with the Mini, Apple unleashed almost everything that the earlier iPads can offer, this time though flavoured with better portability, the tech site added.

Despite the shortfalls, the Mini is "a far classier, more attractive ... and thinner machine," The New York Times said.

"It has two cameras instead of one. Its fit and finish are far more refined. And above all, it offers that colossal app catalogue, which Android tablet owners can only dream about," David Pogue, writing for The NY Times, said in outlining the things he liked about the iPad Mini.

Yet he conceded that the Mini will not push the competition out of business, blaming Apple for its one big mistake.

"By pricing the Mini so high, Apple allows the $200 class of seven-inch Android tablets and readers to live," Mr Pogue said.

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