Geek Zen: And now for something slightly the same, the iPad Mini

(Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images)

The iPad Mini is out. After talking so much about form factor, this would sound like my dream tablet. Yes and no.

It is much lighter that the full size iPad at 304 grams. It is easier to hold… but as other reviewers have pointed out, it is not quite a one-hand-held device. Instead of going with the promo picture from Apple where the device is held by someone with very large hands, I decided to show you this picture of the mini side by side with its full size counterpart.

The screen real estate takes a hit but it’s still pretty respectable. The 7.9 inches of LCD sound good but then come one of the biggest drawbacks. Yes, it will run applications from the original iPad. Read that again – that means the original, iPad one. The 7.85 inch screen has a resolution is 1024×768 pixels at 163 ppi. No retina display.

(Source: Apple)

The iPad Mini runs the A5 dual-core processor from the iPhone 4s which is also, clocked at 1GHz, inside the iPad2.

Before you ask, Google Nexus 7 has more processing power with the  nVidia Tegra 3 which is a quad core. The Nexus 7 also has a smaller 7 inch screen but a bigger resolution: 1280×800 pixels at 216-ppi.

The iPad Mini’s screen seems to be brighter than the Nexus 7. The mini is also lighter at 308 grams (312 with the cellular guts) to the Nexus’ 340 grams. Neither of those numbers are going to weight your travel bag down, so I wouldn’t worry.

Obviously you can tell I’m rooting for the Nexus here, but I’m not getting too cocky because the point of the first generation Mini is just getting out there. Eventually, they’ll add a better processor, higher resolution and retina display back to the device. This also however means their edge on battery performance – 12h43 minutes to the Nexus’ 9h49m – will blur a little more.

The Mini wins on the camera field. 5MP iSight offering 1080p HD video recording and a 1.2MP front camera for up to 720p HD. Not a priority with me since I don’t use it to take pictures. It’s a bit jarring to even see someone else take pictures with a tablet, but that’s just me.

(Source: Apple)

If I was going to be an iPad Mini customer, I would wait for the next generation. The price kills the deal fast though. The Mini will go $329 with the bare essentials, we get only 16GB and no 3G connectivity. Start adding more memory and cellular functionality and it gets even pricier pretty quick, going all the way up to $659. Once a new model shows up with a faster processor, higher resolution and retina display the prices will hike further as well.

There’s a rumor going around that Google is selling the Nexus at a loss, trying to break into the market, or at least at production price with no profit margin. If they are, my hat’s off to them but I hope they can survive. Apple will be ok though, their prices do tell a different story.

If you’re not willing to part with your iTunes library of apps and media, definitely a better alternative than the bigger and heavier iPad. However, if you really want to be an adopter, I’d wait for the second generation to come out – at least to see if the prices on the first one take a drop.

That will do for now.

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