For myself, I can picture a world where I own multiple tablets. A serious tablet, like an iPad Retina or perhaps even something bigger for when I want to manage my photos and home movies perhaps, write a long letter, design, code, etc. And an iPad mini as my main device. Something ultra portable and light. Perfect for email, blogging, web browsing, social media, movies in bed...
I bought an iPad mini today. I needed my own iPad. I thought I could just use the one my wife has but my 2 and 4 year olds are all over it like a rash. I rarely got a look in and found myself having to settle for the MacBook Air to carry out tasks an iPad really was more than capable at handling.
I could have bought the iPad 4 today, but the idea of a device that was ultra portable appealed to me. I decided I would swap with my wife if I didn't like the mini, and I would have the full sized iPad 2. It used to be mine, but I handed it down when I got the 3. I chose a black 32GB Wifi model.
Here's the first thing I noticed.
The size is brilliant. It's not better than the full size iPad, nor is it better than an iPhone or iPod touch. It is it's own unique offering to the world.
But I don't think Apple realise how good it is. I think as the name describes, most people at Apple simply see it as a smaller iPad.
I would have been happy if it had its own name altogether, and forsook the iPad moniker. It deserves to be considered on its own merits, yet I fear most people will choose between the mini and a full size iPad. In a world where all my photos live on Flickr and my videos are parked on YouTube, I don't see many reasons to own a Mac/PC and an iPad. I could more easily justify owning an iPad and an iPad mini.
Now Apple claimed to have treated the mini as a completely new device. At least, Sir Jonathan Ive's design team claim to have. And the did I suppose. Its hardware, while familiar, is not simply a shrunken version of the iPad we know. The thinner bezels, the lightweightness, the iPhone like chamfers and black back, all make the mini stand apart from its big brother.
But where it falls down is the operating system.
An iPhone's notification icons, for example, were not blown up when reimagined for the iPad, yet on the mini they are shrunken. in fact, there are a number of design elements where icons and text imput fields are noticeably smaller than the iPhone.
It's not unbearable, but it makes me wonder if the iOS team were really on the ball here. I don't know who had the final day on everything software related, and for the sake of time I'm sure it was much easier to simply duplicate the iPad maxi pixel for pixel, but if Apple has time to design and build such a robust and beautiful tablet, surely they can write some code that resizes elements of the iOS interface to improve the unique experience that this size tablet offers.
People have complained about the retina screen, or the lack thereof, and questioned whether it is a deal breaker. The screen it ships with is just fine. It's better than the iPad 2, it has the same amount of pixels as the 2, just squiched into a smaller area. So while it's not as nice as the retina displays we all love, if they had to make it weigh much more to offer a retina screen, I wouldn't think it's worth it. The killer feature of the mini is its light weight.
After one day I am very happy and impressed with the mini, and with Jonathan Ive now at the helm of software design at Apple, I look forward to some thoughtful iOS updates for the wonderful new tablet called the iPad mini.