Oct. 23, 2012 at 4:16 PM ET
The thing that hits you when you pick up the iPad Mini isn't how small it is, but how big it actually seems. The reason? The much thinner bezel means a much better screen-to-body ratio.
The other thing that strikes you is how well the industrial design of the new iPod Touch lends itself to the iPad Mini. You will have a very hard time choosing between the two-tone black model and the two-tone White model, as you can see in the shots below, but either way, Apple is really on to something with the new, uh, two-tone design motif.
"Does it feel like a shrunken iPad?" my colleague Rosa asks. Yes ... and no. The first thing you feel is actually, "Wow, I am holding a huge phone!" If you've ever held a Samsung Galaxy Note, for instance, you get a sense of what I'm talking about. It's only after that first burst of huge-phoneness that you settle in and start treating it like an iPad, one that is, yes, miniaturized.
I gave the iPad Mini the all-important lie-on-your-side-and-read test. No, I didn't get on the ground, but I held it in my standard reading position. While I think you could still get cozier on, say, a Kindle Paperwhite, this thing will be a lot less tiresome to hold one-handed. Just be careful, because the tighter bezel could mean accidental pageturns.
So, the Apple execs were ferocious about noting that the iPad Mini has the same screen resolution as the iPad 2. That doesn't quite make its screen resolution a "Retina" display (one where your eyes can't perceive the pixels). The iPad Mini has 163 pixels per inch, which is a step up from the 132 ppi of the iPad 2, but a far cry from the 264 ppi of the more expensive iPad. The bump up from the iPad 2, with a smaller screen, does give everything a sharp look, though, like you're gazing at an iPad interface through some kind of lens.
The Apple folks are also keen to point out that the surface area of the iPad Mini is about a quarter greater than the surface area of lower-priced Android tablets, such as the $199 Nexus 7 and the $249 Kindle Fire HD. Those both have greater pixel densities, and 16x9 aspect ratios that are optimized for movie watching. I would say that if you're using this primarily for movie watching, then the Android models make sense, but as Apple demonstrated, when you are looking at websites and e-books, you get more surface area at one glance.
Of course, the iPad Minis on display — complete with adorable little matching Smart Covers — were all well behaved, running apps as snappily as you'd expect with the A5 processor.
I think you'd still need to see it in a store to know if it's right for your needs, but Apple's clearly bringing a whole new media consumption option to the table with iPad Mini, though one that's not exactly going to replace your computer. Or your phone.