Early reviews for the iPad mini are already in, several days before Apple's latest product goes on sale - and so far the critics seem to be in agreement, giving unanimously positive reactions to Apple's smaller iPad.
Here is what the critics are saying:
Walt Mossberg from The Wall Street Journal
Mossberg has a few niggles about the portrait keyboard and lack of HD, but still recommends the new tablet:
"My only complaint was that the keyboard, in portrait mode, felt a bit cramped, though it was fine in landscape mode. The iPad mini exceeded Apple's battery life claim of 10 hours and lasted 10 hours and 27 minutes. The lack of true HD gives the Nexus and Fire HD an advantage for video fans. In my tests, video looked just fine, but not as good as on the regular iPad. If you love the iPad, or want one, but just found it too large or heavy, the iPad mini is the perfect solution."
Jon Gruber from Daring Fireball
The ultra-Apple watcher, Gruber has no problems with the smaller screen and is surprised at the performance of the 7in tablet:
"It's exactly what you think: It feels like an iPhone 3GS display cut to iPad size, including the fact that the pixels seem deeper from the surface of the glass...the iPad Mini's display will garner no complaints...smaller screen is a non-issue. I was not expecting iPad 3 performance in the mini. But it's there, and that makes the iPad mini great for games. I think there are going to be a staggering number of iPad minis in Santa's sack this year."
Joshua Topolsky from The Verge
Topolsky says the iPad mini is the a clear winner in terms of feel, design and quality:
"There isn't a single product in the 7in tablet market that comes close to the look, feel, or build quality of the new iPad. It is absolutely gorgeous to see, and in your hand has the reassuring solidness of a product that's built to last...I actually had a little trouble holding onto the device when I wasn't using the Smart Cover due to the back being as smooth as it is, and the frame being so thin."
However, Topolsky did have some issues with the way iOS on the mini dealt with inputs from your fingers:
"Supposedly, the software on the mini has been tweaked to reject unwanted touches on the sides of the display, and during my testing it did seem to keep my thumb from making accidental moves in apps. The flip side to that, however, is that it sometimes seems to overcompensate and reject touches you intended - meaning that sometimes apps don't respond the way you want. It wasn't a huge problem, but it could be annoying at times, so I hope that Apple makes some effort to fine-tune this in future updates."
However, when it came down to it, it was a ringing endorsement from Topolsky:
"The iPad mini hasn't wrapped up the "cheapest tablet" market by any stretch of the imagination. But the "best small tablet" market? Consider it captured."
Charles Arthur from The Guardian
Arthur find the pocketable iPad mini is the perfect size for those who commute to work every day:
"I thought that the iPad mini would be substantially wider. But it's not, and at that width you can slip it into an outside jacket pocket or a roomy coat pocket or, of course, a bag. Apple has made a definite effort to create something that can be slipped into generous pockets.This is a device that will be ideal for holding in one hand for reading on train rides or other commuting; or you might even forget it's in that coat pocket."
Arthur also picks up on the screen resolution, but points out that side-by-side comparison tells a different story than specs alone:
"If all you read is specifications, then the iPad mini screen is far worse than the Kindle Fire's or Nexus 7′s, right? Well, put them beside each other, and the story changes. Web page rendering on the Kindle Fire is, frankly, awful. It's blocky, and there's a yellowish cast which personally I dislike. The iPad mini is bright, and white, and the text rendering is good - and there's no obvious pixelation. Kindle books look as good on the iPad mini as on the Kindle Fire. Icons on the iPad mini look sharp; on the Kindle Fire, not really."
When it comes to giving a verdict, Arthur is firmly in the iPad mini camp, despite the price difference:
"There's no doubt that this is indeed a five-star device. The 20 percent difference [relative to the Nexus 7] in comparative price is more than made up by the difference in build quality and software selection."
David Pogue from The New York Times
Pogue also focuses on the screen, but believes no one will have any problems with it:
"Nobody's going to complain about the sharpness - it packs in 163 pixels per inch - but it's not the same jaw-dropping resolution as the big iPad. Gotta hold something back for next year's model, right?"
Pogue also focuses on the build quality in comparison to challengers from Google and Amazon - highlighting also the key fact that Apple's tablet app ecosystem is light years ahead of Android's:
"The iPad Mini is a far classier, more attractive, thinner machine than the Google Nexus 7 and the Amazon.com Kindle Fire HD. It has two cameras instead of one. Its fit and finish are far more refined. And above all, it offers that colossal app catalog, which Android tablet owners can only dream about."