When the iPad Mini was first introduced last fall, I thought it was interesting but made too many sacrifices for me to give up my full size iPad. Coming with last year's processor and not having a Retina screen were the two biggest reasons. However, I did plan to purchase one eventually for my daughter.
When my son was 14 months old he was using the original iPad all the time -- except in the car because it was too heavy for him to hold. So now that my daughter is about to hit 14 months, I figured I'd pick up the Mini for her now and let her get started with the lighter device. But then a funny thing happened when I took it out and started to set it up for her. I didn't hate it.
When the iPad Mini reviews hit last year most of the tech press had similar concerns as I did. It appeared to be a niche product, and for all those who had made the iPad a part of their daily routine there was no reason to switch.
Recently, though, there has been more and more chatter about it as people have lived with it for six months. Comments such as "I didn't think I would like the smaller size but ..." and "I think this is the size the iPad should have been in the first place" started to pop up. Indeed, after using it for a few days I had similar thoughts. My biggest issue was it not having the Retina screen. It was the first thing I noticed when I turned it on, and I thought my eyeballs were going to explode. (Ack! Fuzzy text! My eyes!) But I was immediately struck by how much lighter it was than my full size iPad. The iPad 4 weighs 1.44 pounds -- not exactly a lead weight. The iPad Mini checks in at 0.68 pounds. You wouldn't think less than a pound of weight would make that big of a difference in something already so light, but amazingly it does just that.
I suddenly had the urge to take the iPad Mini everywhere, and, unlike an iPhone, it didn't sacrifice any of the larger iPad apps that I had been using to get real work done. In the process of taking the iPad Mini all over the place, I also found after a few days, my eyes adjusted back to their pre-Retina days. Yes, text still was ever-so-slightly fuzzy but it didn't bother me.
None of this is to say the iPad Mini is a better device than the iPad 4. If you're in the market for the full size iPad, by all means go for it (and if so -- shameless plug -- why not buy one from us and get a free one-year digital subscription to the Packet and Gazette as well as a training class conducted by yours truly! Call 843-706-8180 for details).
It's more to say that the perceived shortcomings of the Mini turned out not to be the deal-breakers for me that I thought they would be. At the end of the day, choosing between the two might come down to one thing for each. Always on the go? The Mini might be best for you. Always reading on the iPad? The Retina screen can't be beat. As for me, I'll stick with my full-size iPad for now, but I might have to borrow it from my daughter every once in a while.
Morgan Bonner is pre-press manager and a systems administrator for the Packet and Gazette.