iPad mini First Impressions: A Tablet In Its Own League

The iPad mini seems like it’s a Google Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire HD competitor, but after spending a few minutes with this device, we think Apple’s new tablet is in its own league. The 7.9-inch size is one-hand friendly, but doesn’t feel like a shrunken tablet. And while the 1024 x 768-pixel display isn’t as sharp as the competition’s screens, images looked clear and colorful when we were viewing websites and running a couple of apps. 

More importantly, the iPad mini is actually lighter and thinner than the Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire HD; it’s amazingly slim at just 0.3 inches. The aluminum body, which comes in silver or black, feels sturdy. The right side houses the volume controls, while the back has a 5-MP iSight camera. Even in fairly dim lighting, the iPad mini captured sharp images. And this is a device you’re much more likely to shoot with than a 9.7-inch slate.

At first, we thought the bezel around the 7.9-inch screen might be too slim, but we had no problem holding the device without accidentally launching apps. Another plus: Apple designed a new Smart Cover for this device, which will come in handy when you want to prop up the mini for viewing content.

At $329, the iPad mini is in its own league in another way. It costs $130 more than the Nexus 7, the Nook HD and the latest Kindle Fire. But given Apple’s huge apps advantage — 275,000 and counting — we suspect a lot of shoppers will be willing to spend a little extra to get a mini in their hands. Stay tuned for a full review.

Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
Mark Spoonauer on
Twitter Google+
Email* (will not be published)
*Indicates required field
Submit Comments

  1. Phil T Says:

    I find it somewhat impractical. You could either do everything on your phone or shell out a little more money for a high powered laptop or another, larger tablet. The only reason I would consider buying the new mini ipad is because it is less expensive than its larger counterpart, but if I was going for best value I’d probably pick up an Amazon or Google tablet for 120$ less.

  2. Aaron Says:

    The Yugo was in its own league also, but that didn’t make it better than the competition.

    Is the mini a bad device? No, but for the small price difference, you should just go for the iPad 2.

    It never fails to amaze me how form over function can be heralded by the media. Apple makes such a big deal with there resolution and screen densities, then brings out one of the lower resolution devices … and everyone is happy to pay a premium for it.


  3. Annymous Says:

    Full size iPads are too heavy to do stuff if you are going to hold it in your hand for any length of time. It weighs around 1.5 pounds. The iPad mini is only .68 pounds. That is half! But I need to be patient and wait for the Retina display to come out before I buy one! All my other devices are all HD resolution and I not going back to low screen resolution even for the iPad mini! Apple better step up and start to produce them instead of their usual practice of milking a hot product by delaying the technology and incrementally introduce it in each refresh. I want the equivalent of the iPad4 in a mini2!

All Product Types Accessories Cars Digital Camcorders Digital Cameras eReaders GPS Laptops MP3 & Video Players Projectors Smartphones Software Storage Tablets / MIDs VoIP Wi-Fi
All Subcategories
All Subcategories All-Purpose Budget Business Desktop Replacement Gaming Multimedia Netbook Nettop Rugged Student Tablet PCs Ultraportable
Acer Alienware Apple Archos ASUS Averatec BenQ CTL Corp. Dell Digital Storm eMachines Emtec Everex Fujitsu GammaTech Gateway General Dynamics Getac Gigabyte Hercules HP HTC iBuyPower Intel Lenovo MSI Nokia Nvidia OCZ OLPC OQO Origin Panasonic Sager Samsung Sony Sylvania Systemax TabletKiosk Toshiba Verizon Viewsonic Viliv VooDoo Workhorse PC ZT Systems
Minimum Rating
Any Rating 4.5 Stars 4.0 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.0 Stars
Screen Size
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 4 5 6 7 8 9
1024x576 1024x600 1024x768 1200X800 1280 x 720 1280x1024 1280x768 1280x800 1366x678 1366x768 1440x1050 1440x900 1600x768 1600x900 1680x1050 1680x945 1920x1080 1920x1200 800x400 800x480
Weight Range
10.1 - 12.0 pounds 12.1 - 14.0 pounds 14.1 - 16.0 pounds 2 lbs 2 pounds and under 2+ lbs 2.1 - 4.0 pounds 4.1 - 6.0 pounds 6.1 - 8.0 pounds 8.1 - 10.0 pounds Over 16 pounds Under 2 pounds
more options