Feb
11
2014

Retina iPad mini Review

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iPad Mini

When I bought a Retina iPad mini in November, I published my first impressions of the device and promised that, like I did with the iPhone 5, I would revisit my article for a proper review. I work from my iPad every day, and I believe there is value in condensing thoughts on a product after continued and regular experience. Three months later, I think I’ve used the iPad mini enough to write my review.

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The biggest in my eyes is the iPad Air’s wider gamut display with full sRGB coverage. The mini’s Retina Display is good, the Air’s is just better. There’s also more thermal headroom on the iPad Air, which can come in handy if you’re doing compute intensive work on it. If neither of those things matters to you, then the decision becomes one of usage model and portability. I believe the iPad Air does a better job of approximating a primary computing device, particularly in its ability to give you a reasonable sized virtual keyboard to work on. The iPad mini on the other hand is substantially more portable. Although the iPad Air is light enough to come along with me more than any prior iPad, the mini’s form factor makes it even more likely that’ll I’ll bring it with me (the best tablet is the one you have with you?).

In spite of my snark, I do agree with readers who pointed out that, for professionals who rely on the iPad and demand color accuracy, having the best display is important. I don't think that average users will notice any issues with the mini's (amazing) Retina display, but if you're looking for hard facts and numbers, AnandTech's review is the one to read.

Nov
12
2013

After a surprising and unexpected launch, I made a reservation for a Retina iPad mini earlier today at my local Apple store, waited five hours, then drove to the store and bought it. I got a 32 GB, LTE, Silver iPad because, when I made the reservation, that model wasn’t available in Space Gray and, as an Apple store employee later told me, reservations cannot be modified after the fact (not that it really matters – the store didn’t have it in stock today). I don’t care about the color of my iPad, and I prioritized getting one as soon as possible over looks. I think that Silver looks great.

As I’ve already discussed, I’ve been working from my iPad mini for the past year, and I couldn’t wait to get an upgrade to enjoy the higher resolution of the Retina display. I was forced to get used to the old iPad mini’s display, but that doesn’t mean I liked it. The form factor was more important than the display in the end, but, this year, I can have both: the iPad mini’s lighter body and the Retina display. I was, to use an euphemism, “fairly” excited about the Retina iPad mini.

Don’t consider this post a “review”. Rather, this is a collection of my first impressions with the device after less than five hours spent working with it. I am posting this list of points primarily for myself, so I can solidify my thoughts by making them public and getting the opportunity to reference them later. Secondly, I am publishing this post for readers who asked me questions about device and still don’t know whether they should buy an iPad mini or an iPad Air. This is not a buyers recommendation guide, but I’ll try to my best to collect everything that I thought of in the past five hours. (more…)

Jim Dalrymple:

The iPad mini can easily be your only iPad. The fact is, it always could, but you can do so now without feeling like you’re giving something up in return for the size. The iPad mini is small, it has a Retina display and it’s the most powerful iPad to date. There is just nothing bad to say about the iPad mini.

Following an update posted on the GSX website last night, Apple today launched the iPad mini with Retina display on its online store. The launch came as a surprise due to the lack of press releases to pre-announce the launch and product reviews from journalists who received a unit in advance. The launch followed rumors of a “delay” for the iPad mini due to supply constraints for the new Retina display.

As of this morning, the iPad mini with Retina display is available through the Apple online store with shipping times of 5-10 business days for both WiFi and WiFi + Cellular models. In a press release published a few minutes ago, Apple mentioned that it will also be available with Personal Pickup at Apple retail stores (in the United States at least):

iPad mini with Retina display is available to order through the Apple Online Store (www.apple.com) to ship or through Personal Pickup at Apple’s retail stores, and through AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless and select Apple Authorized Resellers.

From the press release:

The response to iPad Air has been incredible, and we’re excited for customers to experience the new iPad mini with Retina display,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “We think customers will love both of these thin, light, powerful new iPads, and we’re working hard to get as many as we can in the hands of our customers.

The iPad mini with Retina is Apple’s new 7.9-inch tablet that comes with a high-resolution display, A7 processor with 64-bit CPU, and all the other features of the larger iPad Air, in a lighter and smaller body.

I think it becomes apparent, then, why everyone assumes the iPad Air is the creator and the iPad Mini is the absorber. While both now have the same internals, the preconceived notion that the iPad Mini is not meant for creation has overruled analytical and advisory minds. It actually makes sense to associate “smaller” and more “portable” as an absorber.

Joshua Ginter makes some good points in his article on iPad Air vs. mini for content creation. My guess: many will reconsider the mini after they'll try the Retina display in the smaller form factor.

Oct
26
2013

iPad mini

I’ve seen an argument being made in the past week: that the iPad mini is for “consumption”, whereas the iPad Air is for “creation”. This idea has been reinforced by Apple’s announcements: with both iPads now carrying the same hardware, the difference between the mini and the Air comes down to the fact that one is for consuming media and the other for creating content. I disagree. (more…)

iPad mini and Logitech Tablet Keyboard

David Chartier has been taking a look at various external keyboard solutions for his iPad mini in the past weeks. I have enjoyed the series and I was looking forward to reading his thoughts on the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard mini, Logitech's latest entry in the market of iPad keyboard/case accessories. As I feared, the Ultrathin Keyboard mini is just too cramped to be an acceptable trade-off:

The keys are cramped, even moreso than the 9.7 inch iPad’s on-screen keys in landscape, which I consider “Normal Netbook” and quite typeable if you give yourself time to warm up to them. Logitech made some questionable tradeoffs when combining and shrinking keys; take a close look at my gallery photo to see what I mean.

My theory is simple: if you want to use an external keyboard with the iPad, you'd better have a good reason to do so. And for me, the good reason is very simple: having a real, full-size keyboard – not one that's “physical” but just as small as the software one. This is the reason why I wasn't a fan of the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for the bigger iPad either.

Like David, I have been getting better at touch-typing, but I still think the best solution for the iPad mini is the one I chose for the iPad last year: the Logitech Tablet Keyboard. It's the same size of Apple's Bluetooth keyboard, and it's got iOS-specific keys such as a Home button and a Spotlight shortcut, which I use all the time. Here's my review from last year, still 100% true for me.

If you use a Logitech keyboard, here's a handy list of shortcuts (list may vary depending on the keyboard layout you have). Also, iOS supports more “advanced” keyboard shortcuts, but very few people know about them – because they require VoiceOver to be activated. Here's how you can get more shortcuts to work; I don't use this method, but I hope Apple will allow third-party developers to have configurable keyboard shortcuts in a future version of iOS.

Measuring iPhone 5 vs. iPhone 4S availability

Horace Dediu of Asymco today wrote and shared data on the availability of the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S by potential buyers – measured by the subscriber counts of the carriers that sell the iPhone. It’s an important and valuable extension of an article I wrote last week, discussing the international rollout of each generation of iPhone and iPad. That analysis had a weakness in that I treated all countries as equal which isn’t necessarily true (depending on why you’re looking at the data).

Announcing availability in Mauritius is not nearly as important as announcing Madagascar. A better measure would be to track the countries’ populations being added, or, better still, the populations which subscribe to operators who have a distribution contract with Apple.

So instead, Dediu looked at which carriers held the iPhone in each country and what their approximate subscriber count was. By calculating the availability this way, you can now see the potential number of iPhone buyers, as seen in Horace’s graph here.

That’s a handy measure: the iPhone 5 was 30% more available than the iPhone 4S. The big contribution was having China and Indonesia available during the fourth quarter rather than in January 2011.

Make sure to head over to Asymco to read the full article and all of Horace’s observations, it’s an interesting read. If you didn’t catch my article last week, it’s also available to read here. Just note that if you are trying to compare Dediu’s graph with the one in my article (shown here), Dediu went with actual dates whereas I went with relative time. This is because I wanted to look at the first 110 days of every iPhone, Dediu was specifically looking at the fourth quarter availability.