Sunday, 11 August 2013

Buyer's Guide: iPad or iPad Mini?

If you've ever been into an Apple Store (and I'm guessing most of you have) you can overhear a frequent conversation:

Customer: So which is better? The iPad or the iPad mini?
Apple Pip: They're both good it's down to your personal preference sir/madam

It can be infuriating to listen to because in my mind both of them are great devices that fill a specific use. So lets break things down here in a pros and cons list of each product so that you, the lovely reader out there can decide what you would prefer:


THE tablet computer, the device that effectively created the category of tablet to fill the hole between a smartphone and a netbook. Steve Jobs himself hated the concept of a netbook as you were effectively paying over the odds for a cutdown laptop that didn't do as much as a full sized laptop and what it could do, it couldn't do very well. His idea was less about shrinking a laptop down (though that had already been achieved by the MacBook Air), but more about boosting what a smartphone could do. It was never advertised as a replacement to a laptop, that's not what it's there for, however, it makes mobile web browsing a much better prospect than the small screen of the iPhone. It has also landed on it's feet for gaming, with much richer, more complex games being developed for it, then shrunk down to accommodate the iPhone and iPod touch. So what are the pros and cons of it:


The retina display is gorgeous: Yes, all 9.7' and obscene amount of pixels combine to make one of the best displays you could read anything on. Especially when it comes to apps like iBooks, the text just jumps out at you. 
It is powerful: Running on the A6x chip, the full sized iPad packs a performance punch. Games load and run smoother, apps transition quicker and photos render faster than you can blink
It's sturdy: The gorilla glass and aluminium construction mean that while it weighs quite a bit compared to cheaper tablets, it's a sturdy beast that it's going to break if you do happen to drop it by accident.

It's expensive: the 16gb wifi only model of the iPad costs £399. Now, considering it's refined use and closed OS in iOS, it's a lot to ask for people to spend £399 on an iPad when you can get a reasonable laptop for about £50 less.
The size: With a 9.7inch screen, it's bigger than any book you probably own and it's slightly cumbersome, especially for bedtime reading. When I use mine is most commonly on the sofa and I tend to have it resting on the arm of the chair, or on my legs… much like a laptop. 

iPad Mini:

So, in 2012, Apple released the iPad Mini. Ever since he first iPad came out, the internet was awash with thoughts that eventually Apple would shrink down the iPad to compete with the lower end of the tablet market, those like Samsung who were aiming their Galaxy Tab devices at a cheaper audience and making use of 7 inch screens. Steve Jobs had publicly stated that he didn't like the idea of 7 inch tablets and that the concept was dead in the water, people wanted 10 inch tablets. After his passing, new Apple CEO Tim Cook reversed the logic and delivered to us the iPad mini. A cut size, cut price model aimed at those who lust after an iPad but can't afford to drop nearly £400 on the base model. But what does the Mini have going for it?


The price: it's significantly cheaper than the full sized iPad, the 16gb wifi model starting at £269. A much more comfortable price point, if you ask meß
It's still powerful: While it uses the dual core A5 chipset, rather than the quad core A6x, it's still a powerful beast. With having a much smaller screen to work with, it doesn't need to be powerful. It can still play demanding games like Infinity Blade without breaking a sweat.
The size: With a 7.9 inch display, the iPad Mini is small enough to be comfortably held in one hand. At 308g, it's not even heavy enough to tire your arms out if you're holding it up while reading. Clearly it's been aimed to disrupt the Kindle Fire market.

The size: In some respects, the smaller form factor can make certain apps harder to read. It has exactly the same screen resolution as the iPad 2, so apps that look perfectly fine on the iPad 2 looks really tiny on the iPad mini. The best I can think of is the Facebook app, which just looks teeny and squashed together.
The construction: This is more aimed at the black model, but just like the black iPhone 5, the unit is painted aluminium, which of course means that if you don't buy a case for it that you are going to attract unsightly silver marks where the paint is chipping off. This isn't so much of an issue with the white model, but if (like me) you prefer the black iPads, then you're going to have to buy a case.
So which is best to get. Well, in my mind, the Mini would be the better of the two unless you absolutely need the larger screen. Seeing as the Mini can do pretty much everything the full sized model can do, for £120 less, my money would go to the mini. That's not to say the full sized one isn't worth the money, but the mini just seems far better value to me.

Or you could save your money for an 11inch MacBook Air, but that's a whole other discussion.


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