The iPad mini was announced today, and it’s essentially what rumors were expecting: An iPad 2 with a couple of inches sheared off. It was also pretty much completely eclipsed by the iPad 4, which is far more awesome and compelling in just about every respect.
If we’re just looking at seven-inch tablets, the iPad Mini is thinner, lighter, has a bigger screen and… and… well…
Honestly, that’s pretty much it. Not that the iPad 2, which is what this is, is a busted piece of junk, but for contrast, you can get a 16GB Nexus 7 for $250, and Apple wants $330 for the base 16GB iPad Mini. The Nexus 7 (and Kindle Fire) have better processors and better screens. As for the thinner and lighter argument, it’s not one. The competition weighs less than a pound. Really, unless you need cellular access or a hell of a lot of space for apps, there’s not much here to make people with a 7-inch tablet switch.
Granted, you can get 64GB in an eight-inch form factor for $529. Or you could just save thirty bucks and get the 16GB iPad 4, which has a bigger screen and a processor that’s twice as fast.
This is usually the part where somebody shows up and says that Apple products have a better ecosystem (a subjective argument at best) or that Apple products sell on cachet anyway. And I know this is really aimed at people who can’t swing a full-sized iPad but still want a brand name in their laptop bag. But it’s hard to view this as anything other than a stopgap to keep Google and Amazon from divvying up the smaller tablet market while they put together something better for next year.
I’m not predicting that Apple won’t sell a ton of these things, but it’ll be to their fans and the image-concerned, not people who actually want the best seven inch tablet you can get. Now, the iPad 4? It’s pretty much the same as the iPad 3, just with a better processor and a Lightning connector. Also, Apple’s new iMacs are 80% thinner and look like science fiction. Oh, and the Mac Mini got Ivy Bridge!
Really if you want to give Apple money, they gave you a lot of great options. It’s too bad the iPad Mini is not among them.