Why give consumers one iPad to choose from when you can give them three? That must have been Apple’s modus operandi as it planned to add two new iPads to its device lineup while keeping the iPad 2 on sale. Now an iPad shopper can choose between a 7.9-inch iPad mini that starts at $329, the larger, 9.7-inch fourth-generation iPad with an industry-leading 2048 x 1536 display for $499 or the old iPad 2 and its 1024 x 768 display. Which device should you choose? Here’s help for you to decide.
Apple iPad Mini
If size is your primary concern, the iPad mini wins. Obviously. Apple touts the mini as 53 percent smaller than its big brother, with a profile that is just .28 inches thick (as opposed to .37 inches for the fourth-generation iPad).
The iPad mini’s display resolution is 1024 x 768, nowhere near the pixel density of the Apple iPad with Retina Display, which plays back video and games with a truly beautiful 2048 x 1536 pixel matrix.
Because the iPad mini supports all the same apps as its larger iPad cousins, there’s no sacrifice in terms of functionality, just image quality. Because of its size, the iPad mini will be good for casual users who want a lighter Apple slate for less visual tasks like surfing Safari on the move or carrying around a full-color, ereader-sized gadget for digital books and magazines. That includes some casual gaming too, but get ready to give up video and graphic quality on your favorite games in the name of greater portability and a lower price.
Priced at $399, the iPad 2 isn’t just sandwiched in-between the other two iPads in size and features, it straddles the fence on price between the $329 mini and the fourth-generation iPad with Retina at $499.
What you get for that price is a full 9.7-inch Apple slate. What you don’t get is the fourth-gen iPad’s stunning 2048 x 1536 screen or it’s faster A6X processor with quad-core graphics. We should also note that the iPad 2 only ships with 16GB of storage, while the other models come flavored with 16, 32, or 64GB hard drives. Oh, and while we’re on the topic of what’s missing, the iPad 2 doesn’t do 4G LTE, supports only AT&T and Verizon, and lacks Siri assistance.
The iPad 2 is good for folks who want a “big-screen” tablet, but don’t want to spend $500 to join the club. Students who want a larger screen for using productivity apps and using multimedia textbooks will benefit from the Apple iPad 2.
The Grand Poobah of iPads, this slate packs a full-size 9.7-inch screen just like the iPad 2, but it’s also showing off a truly grand 2048 x 1536 pixel resolution, making it a signature Apple Retina Display.
With the more voluminous resolution also comes a beefier processor, the A6X chip, a CPU with quad-core graphics built in. What does that mean? It puts the Apple iPad with Retina Display on par with or ahead of the gaming performance and responsiveness of Android tablets that have been on the market for some time.
The iPad with Retina Display also carries the most expensive starting price in the new iPad fleet, $499. Without a full review, we can’t say yet say if its worth the splurge, but tablet users with a heavy emphasis on high-quality mobile video, detailed web browsing, and top-level gaming will most likely want to spring for the latest and greatest iPad.