A bird in the hand…

Dave Zatz —  October 23, 2012

Right on schedule, Apple unveiled the iPad Mini ($329). And, I suppose, there’s really not much to say. It’s a smaller iPad. Or, maybe, a larger iPhone. With a lesser DPI than either. But thinner than my recently returned Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. Brian Lam, of The Wirecutter, was hopeful that folks attending Apple’s event might go beyond the press release verbiage in their coverage… to which PC Mag‘s Sascha Segan responded with allusions to the inevitable “in the hand” descriptions. My colleagues were only happy to oblige with nearly universal iPad Mini hand praise:

Just as the bigger iPad, this one feels delightful in the hand.

The finish of the device is matte on the back, making for a very nice feeling in the hand.

Venture Beat
The iPad mini has a metallic back panel similar to the current iPad, which feels cold in the hand but provides good grip.

The Verge
It feels as high-end as the new iPhone, but even sharper in the hand – like a slice of solid aluminum.

It’s easy to hold and manipulate in the hand but feels durable and well-built enough to accompany you throughout the day.

The build quality and finish both feel good as you’d expect, but the device is just considerably lighter than the iPad which results in superior in hand feel.

Seattle Times
The most important consideration is that the iPad mini is truly light and comfortable in the hand.

Vancouver Sun
Apple took aim at its fast-growing competition in the tablet market Tuesday by unveiling its new iPad Mini, a downsized device that fits in the hand

Bonus! Windows Surface Tablet reviews are out:

Ars Technica
It also feels good in the hand.

Through a process called VaporMg, which essentially allows Microsoft to mold components and chassis together at less than credit card-level thinness, the tablet feels solid and compact in the hand.

21 responses to A bird in the hand…

  1. I never noticed this hand theme, but it seems so obvious (and cliche) now. Interesting how Apple knocked the Nexus 7’s plastic back; since it’s grippy, it stays “in my hand” instead of “on the ground.” Plus, it isn’t scratched all to hell even though I’m using it without a case, a bonus in my book.

  2. Not sure yet. Was thinking of picking one up, but that’s when I thought it would be $299… somehow $329 is just a bit too much for me maybe.

    I’ve always thought the iPad was too heavy, and maybe this will work. Personally I skipped the “new iPad” as I just couldn’t go bigger. I’m sure the retina display is very nice, but I suspect I’d be fine with the display quality on the iPad mini personally.

    We use our existing iPad quite a bit, enough that having a second one in the house wouldn’t be a bad idea. And of course my 2 year old is already in love with the existing one, and having one just for her wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

    But its just that little bit too expensive. Don’t know…

  3. I think Apple’s strategy is to seed all price points above $300. The refurb ipad2 starts at 319, then the mini, ipad 3 (refurb) at 379, new ipad 2 at 399, lastly the ipad 4 for 499. Not much room for Android or W8.

    I say this as I am upgrading my Gingerbread phone to ics and typing this on a w7 pc that will soon be w8, I’m a geek. All the while, my Nexus sits idly by me.

    I bought the original ipad (refurb) after I realized that no reasonable Android tablets were coming. It took Jelly bean to get me to buy one… Now I want to upgrade to the ipad 3. I like experiencing it all.

    We’ll have to see what the Nexus 10 brings and at what price. I love the way that Apple and Google are stealing MS w8 thunder.

  4. I actually just gave my iPad (Gen 1) away to my sister. It was already feeling slow and with my new iPhone 5 it was feeling even slower.

    I was waiting around thinking, “Ok, next Spring I’ll pick up a new iPad with the lightning connector.” Now I don’t have to wait.

    The iPad mini really isn’t for me, I don’t think. I like the larger size of the normal iPad but I can definitely see a market for the mini. I don’t see people putting it into their pockets, though.

  5. Rodalpho, yeah that is a potentially compelling feature and accidental page turns definitely bugged me on the Kindle Paperwhite.

    I wouldn’t mind the iPad Mini on the couch or when reading in bed. But I’m not sure how many iDevices we need. And, on paper, the Nexus 7 looks like a better value – especially if the bump the memory as expected next week. I’m seriously tempted to retire both my iPhone and full size iPad in favor of a Galaxy Note 2 and then pick up the 13″ MBP. But I may not be able to give up the iOS app ecosystem. Hm.

  6. No doubt that the iPad Mini will sell a billion units, but it’s the first time I remember Apple coming late to a segment. It’s an admission that the underestimated the Kindle Fire/Nexus form factor. It’ll be better than any other small tablet.

    Although, they’ll end up cannablizing their own iPad 3/4 sales more than hurting Amazon or Google. But, they have to be in this space. And you wonder if that echosystem that they have everyone shackled to will ever become a drag. Probably not. I’ll probably pick one up at some point.

    My Kindle Paperwhite is still on back order. I like Kindles for reading books.

  7. I dunno… I remember that time Apple was late to the MP3 market. ;) As far as Kindles, I’ve (temporarily?) reverted back to my Kindle Keyboard.

  8. If you play games, you need to get an ipad. The selection is far superior.

    There are a couple major apps that are better on iOS too. Android has plenty of google reader and twitter clients, but it doesn’t have anything truly comparable to best in class apps like Reeder or Tweetbot.

    Beyond that, the N7 is literally 40% cheaper. Now of course that’s just a hundred bucks, and not a big deal.

    Thing is, I think of tablets as toys. I don’t have a real use case for a tablet; I primarily surf the web or reddit while taking a dump.

    My smartphone is a tool– I carry it every day and use it constantly. Same deal with my kindle, I read on it every single day on the train to work. These devices really matter to me. The tablet, not so much.

  9. Use-case scenario for me is as a media room dedicated remote.

    Gives me a reason to upgrade to a TiVo Premiere on input 1.

    Plus I can control lots of stuff hooked up to my Mac Mini on input 2, such as Plex, iTunes music & internet radio, custom background ‘screensavers’, etc, etc.

    Plus I can control the Roku on input 3.

    Home screen and dock fully oriented to media room control.

    Teaming up something in this form factor along with the dedicated device remotes beats the hell out of Harmony Universal style-remotes to my way of thinking.

    Other than a snazzy dedicated media room remote, I can’t really imagine a decent use-case scenario for this gizmo, other than edge-case road warrioring or kids. (Or if you have some kind of OCD that necessitates always having something in your hand that fits your hand, of course…)

  10. It’s overpriced for what it does. For an extra $50 you can get an iPad 2.

    And with the new upgraded iPad 4, which I incorrectly tweeted was an iPad 3 with an A6x chip (it has upgraded LTE, an HD front camera and double the WiFi speeds), I think everything else should drop in price. Then again this is Apple.

  11. I think there will be a large market for children – it’s a better size and weight than the 10″ iPad, with perhaps a wider variety of apps and parental controls than is found from competing platforms. Via casual conversation, I suspect many of my coworkers will end up making purchases.

  12. I really agree with Rodalpho–the iPad is superior for gaming, at least for now, due to the wide selection available. These days, I’m using my Nexus 7 for pretty much everything except for Netflix and games, and my phone (a Galaxy Note) is a tool I use mostly for communication and organization.

  13. I still don’t see why they went with a low resolution screen since they seem to tout “retina display” with many of their devices. The Android tablets costs less and have a better screen.

    My original Fire has a lower rez 1024×600 screen. After getting the FireHD with a higher rez screen, I tried using my original Fire one day, but couldn’t stand it because of the lower rez screen. And with the 8.9″ FireHD coming out next month with a 1920×1200 screen, I’m thinking about picking that up as well.

  14. The ipad mini screen is the same display as the now discontinued iphone 3gs, just cut into bigger chunks.

    That’s why it’s 7.85″ at 1024×768, 163 DPI. The iphone 3gs was 3.5″ at 480×320, 163 DPI.

  15. Radolpho,

    Yup, in theory anyway. Have we seen confirmation that the display is really 7.85″ and not 7.9″ like everybody thought based on this very math?

    Problem is we were thinking hey this is a good thing since it means they can produce it in volume and its probably a relatively cheap display and … yet the device is more expensive than we really all thought it would be.

    I know some people were getting crazy with their predictions. Alex Lindsay over at TwiT regularly spouted $199 and $249 numbers and talked about how that would create some kind of barren wasteland for the other small tablet vendors. A fundamental misunderstanding of Apples motives, which are always always profit driven. I knew they wouldn’t be crazy and would want to maintain their crazy great margins, but even I thought $299 was a sure thing.

    $329 is just too much. I think its fine that the display isn’t as high resolution as these others since it means all the apps will work. And the display stays cheap and doesn’t increase its power requirement so the battery doesn’t have to get bigger and the device doesn’t have to get heavier. And …

    All these trade-offs are fine with me. It seems to be a nice size.

    But as others have said, this is a luxury device. Not a necessity. My iPhone and my laptop I couldn’t give up. The iPad? I like it, I use it, but it would be the first thing to go. And I’m only willing to spend so much money on something like that.

    Plus seriously, what’s the deal with all the damn SKUs? Remember how Apple was the company where you knew which one you wanted and wouldn’t get confused? Why is the iPad 2 still around for instance?

  16. Actually the math said it would be 7.85″ and apple said it’s 7.9″. I don’t know that anyone actually measured it.

    The ipad2 (and the 13″ non-retina macbook pro) are still around because they’re apple’s biggest sellers and they’re afraid to let them go. That’s my guess, anyway.

  17. First prize goes to that anon quipster Chucky for:

    “Use-case scenario for me is as a media room dedicated remote.”

    Bingo. This is the right size for the second screen remote, something that is cheap enough to have more than one of (especially if the cable company subsidizes, cc Glenn) doesn’t overwhelm the couch or coffee table the way the iPad does and provides the right amount of screen space.

    Second prize goes to our host, David Zatz of No Confederate Battle Here, Virginia for “I think there will be a large market for children ”

    Yup. At $325, it’s an expensive but not unreasonable Hanukkah or Christmas present for kids who are always stealing their parents iPads and for parents who want to keep their kids up to speed but don’t trust them with an iPad or MacbookPro.

  18. I was waiting to see what Apple had in the 7″ space. My kids are both saying they want Kindle Fire’s (which means smaller tablets) for Christmas. We have an iPad (original), but they fight over it, so they want their own. The iPad Mini, at $329, is over the Christmas limit for us. It looks like the Nexus 7 will be the one (actually 2) that fits the budget and still delivers the goods. The Kindle Fire is a close second (I have a Prime account), but I’m concerned about the upgrade path/longevity.


  19. “First prize goes to that anon quipster Chucky … Second prize goes to our host, David Zatz”

    So I win the all-expense paid cruise for two to Puerto Vallarta, and Dave wins the washer-dryer?

    If so, when should we expect our prizes?

  20. All my computers are Macs, but I now use a Kindle Fire for my reading.

    Kids borrow it all the time to play apps.

    And you can buy two for the price of one iPad Mini.