Make Canoe my Homepage

If iPad mini was a car it might be a BMW 1 Series

- February 4th, 2013

iPadMini

Being accustomed to using an iPad, I thought it would be an interesting exercise to leave the iPad at home and take along the iPad mini. I wanted to see if it would live up to my expectations and the claim by “Sir” Jonathan Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of Industrial Design, that the iPad Mini is a “concentration and not a reduction of the original”.

First thing, it’s undoubtedly an iPad. Looking quite a lot like its big brother, it’s complete with the unibody construction, the traditional glass and fine aluminum finish. The edging, however, seems a little more like the iPhone 5. Besides the family resemblance, holding it in one hand, you truly realize its size. Side by side, you’ll note that the side bezels have been reduced in comparison relative to the screen, but amazingly, when gripping the mini if your fingers overlap the bezel onto the screen the device seems smart enough to differentiate between whether you’re holding it or tapping it.

ipadmini pencil

Being a gadget guy and carrying around more than my fair share of gadgets makes for a very heavy and bulky backpack, briefcase, portfolio, or whatever I happen to be lugging around that day, so anything I can lose, pardon the pun, can make my day. It has a 7.87”x 5.3” form factor and it’s 0.28” (7.2 mm) wafer thin. It doesn’t quite fit the inside of a suit jacket, but almost.

However, it does fit nicely in one hand and you can certainly grip it with a few fingers.  At 0.68 lbs., it weighs less than half of big bro, which is particularly noticeable when holding it for long periods of time, like when reading at night before bedtime.

I found it to be a real asset when traveling, especially when looking up maps or visiting sites. At 7.9”, it has more screen real estate than an iPhone and it’s less conspicuous than an iPad. This is particularly true when taking photos or shooting video. Its FaceTime HD camera and five-megapixel iSight camera are a pleasure to work with in the smaller form factor. In fact, with the mini, you don’t look as goofy holding it up in the air, as you do with the iPad. It’s also great for watching movies.

iPadMini fingers

What I also like is that there were really no concessions made with respect to running the hundreds of thousands of apps that are already out there. I’m sure the developers were ecstatic about that fact. It’s functionally equivalent to the iPad 2. It runs Apple’s dual core A5 chip, not as fast as the newest 4th generation full-size model running the A6x, yet at least for now, it feels perky enough to get the job done.

The display is interesting at 7.9 inches; it’s larger in viewing area than all other tablets in the 7-inch category.  It has a decent LED backlit display and offers the same number of pixels (1024×768) as the iPad 2 but in a smaller space. However with the insanely great retina display, now found on the iPhone and latest iPad and MacBook Pro models, we’ve become somewhat spoiled. So what truly surprised me, and a major miss, was that Apple did not incorporate the same display technology into the iPad mini, given its availability.  If you’ve become accustomed to the Retina display, you’ll particularly notice it missing when increasing the type size especially when reading.

I think the iPad mini has certainly opened the doors to new markets: students, travelers, business people or anyone who needs full functionality on a compact scale.  The mini fits nicely into a tote bag or smaller purse.

Now as to whether one would switch, it’s a tougher call. For me, since I’ve begun using the iPad for speaking engagements and doing presentations, I’ve completely done away with using paper notes. With that said, I did need to get used to the area of a 9.7” screen being slightly smaller than letter size paper. Since that adjustment, the iPad mini might be a more difficult switch, but what’s wrong with getting both!

The iPad mini is available in Canada in two colour combinations: White/Silver and Black/Slate and in both Wi-Fi (16GB – $329, 32GB – $429 and 64GB – $529) and Wi-Fi + cellular models with fast LTE for an additional $130.

I was hoping the iPad mini would have come in under the $300 mark, given some 7” tablets are now sub $200. One might argue that Google’s Nexus 7 might be a better solution. While I have to agree that Nexus 7 is cheaper and its screen resolution is much higher (1280x 800) at 216ppi much better than the mini’s 163ppi (pixels per inch), it still doesn’t offer the Apple experience, a second camera and certainly doesn’t have the finesse of the iPad mini.

BMW_1

As we were driving back last weekend through the Rockies, I saw a compact car that first, from far, looked like either a Mazda or a Honda Civic hatchback. Getting closer, I was amazed; it was actually a tiny Mercedes.  Being more familiar with BMW as we were in a 2006 3-series, it hit me. If the iPad mini was a car, it might just be a BMW 1 Series. It’s smaller than the three, five, or seven series, with perhaps not as much horsepower with those or even a larger domestic model, but still has the premium BMW quality and fine finishing that one would expect from a luxury brand vehicle.

The iPad mini also offers Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, a 10-hour battery life and features Apple’s new Lightning connector. A Lightning to USB cable is included. If you already own a number of devices, like I do, that use the older 30-pin docking connector, unfortunately, you will need to fork out a few extra bucks to purchase either a Lightning adapter ($35) or cable ($45). Something one would need to get used to, as it looks like all iOS products are going in that direction. Full tech specs are available on Apple’s site.

Overall, the iPad mini is certainly a little gem. It’s compact, light, elegant, peppy and has a decent battery life. A retina display would have made it shine that much brighter. For the most part, it did meet my expectations and I guess Jony Ive did get it right.

Rating: 4/5

iPad Photos courtesy Apple Inc.

BMW One Series Wallpaper image courtesy BMW.

 

==================================================

Greg Gazin is the Real Canadian Gadget Guy.

Follow me on Twitter @gadgetgreg or Empire Avenue (e)GADGET1.

==================================================

 

 

 

 

Subscribe to the post

13 comments

  1. teflon | February 4, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    Give me a break. Waste of money. Wouldn’t it make more sense to get the full size pad and a phone with a decent size screen.

  2. Ryan | February 4, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    I’m quite happy I picked up the Nexus 7. The “apple experience” is the biggest myth right now.

  3. Jose | February 4, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    So how would you call a nexus 7? A F1 series car? Maybe a rocket ship? Figther jet? ipad mini has nothing to compete against the nexus 7 capabities and speed! Oops and I forgot to mention that you buy 2 for the price of an ipad mini.

  4. Tony | February 5, 2013 at 8:14 am

    Nice article, I am in two mind whether to buy an ipad mini or a standard ipad. (or even an ipad alternative). Man its confusing!

  5. Greg Gazin | February 5, 2013 at 10:32 am

    Teflon, I guess it all boils down to what you want and what you want to use it for. You may not want to carry around something as big as an iPad but want something larger than an iPhone screen.

  6. Gavin | February 5, 2013 at 10:59 am

    Cheers .. still working to getting a smart phone never mind me even being able to make a comparison ;)

  7. Greg Gazin | February 5, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Gavin, there’s certainly no shortage of smartphones and good deals! My bro just got his first smartphone! Once you go beyond just a phone, there’s no going back! :)

  8. Jenny Jones | February 5, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    I prefer the Kindle Fire HD. The interface is great and it’s very easy to use. Check out its Amazon page(http://amzn.to/11SRHbE) if you want to compare what they bring to the table.

  9. Harold Gardner | February 8, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    Since a version 2 of the mini will be out soon, waiting a bit seems sensible. Then the question will become the original mini at sub $200 or the more expensive v2 with the jazzy display.

  10. Sonia | February 9, 2013 at 6:43 am

    At the end of the day all that matters is that it does what you want it to do…

  11. tru2psu | February 9, 2013 at 9:39 am

    Purchased one for my wife – she loves it.

  12. clevermedia | February 19, 2013 at 8:14 am

    Awesome review. I love my standard sized ipad, and feel that if i wanted something smaller i would just use my iphone 5.

  13. Etienne | February 19, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    As an iOS developer, it looks nice but I do not feel I need it. Good review!

Leave a comment

 characters available