The iPad mini doesnt arrive in stores until November 2, but we got to spend some time with one on Tuesday after Apples media event at the California Theater in San Jose. Our conclusion: Yes, its a small iPadbut theres more (and less) to it than that. Here are our hands-on impressions.
As Apples executives made a point of stressing, the iPad mini is first and foremost an iPad. Sure, when you pick it up, its impressively small and light. But most if not all of the features that youve come to know on the iPad are there on the smaller version as wellheadphone jack, On/Off button, volume controls, Home button, and so on.
But despite those similarities, its hard to convey how different the experience of the iPad mini is compared to the full-sized models. Its hard to believe, just a couple of years after we first marveled at Apple's tablet, that a full iPad experience fits into a package thats this much smaller and lighter.
And its no less polished or well-designed than its larger brethren. This is not a device that feels cheap; all metal and glass, it's extremely attractive. As with the iPhone 5, it feels like an object that was extruded, not assembled.
The color scheme reinforces that feeling. Like the iPhone 5, the iPad mini comes in black (with a dark back and sides) or white (with a silver back and sides); these arent the multicolored hues of the iPod nano or iPod touch.
Fits in your hand
Apple made a trade-off when it designed the original iPad with a 10-inch display: that big screen (and its weight) made the original too bulky to be held in one hand. It was and is a great two-handed device (or a one-hand-and-propped-on-your-lap device), but it isn't palmable.
The iPad mini most definitely is. If youve got small hands and want to hold it in landscape orientation, you may find it a bit of a stretch. In portrait mode, its easy to grip the bottom bezel between thumb and finger, the way you might hold a book. The iPad mini is so light that holding it this way feels perfectly natural. Its so small and light that we think kids will love it.
Unlike previous iPads, the iPad minis bezel isnt the same size all the way around: In portrait orientation, the left and right bezels are substantially thinner, as on an iPhone. Putting your thumb on it means touching the touchscreen. We suspect that Apple felt slimming down the bezel was an acceptable option, given that the iPad mini is light enough to hold in one hand.
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