The iPad Mini (Apple’s first foray into the 7″ tablet market) was announced today. Woooooo . . . I guess after hearing rumors and speculations about this device for over a year, I am a little underwhelmed.
My lack of excitement turned into shock when I heard that the Mini’s screen resolution would be 1024 x 768 with just 162 pixels per inch. That same resolution was featured all of last year’s 7″ tablets. The Kindle Fire, the Nook Tablet, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 all used this display, and I can tell you that none of them were a joy to read on. In my experience, text looks blurry or pixelated at this resolution, and when you compare it to the iPad 3’s amazing 2048 x 1536 display (264 ppi), it looks downright awful. Pictures and videos look fine, but long-form reading on a screen of this resolution can be straining on the eyes. This is a major downgrade for what is supposed to be a ‘new’ 7″ tablet product.
When Apple put out the retina display earlier this year, customers came to expect that all of their future iDevices would feature spectacular screen resolutions. Apple seems to be bucking against this expectation in order to save costs; although, I’m not sure that their $329 entry-level price point will win them many Kindle Fire customers. Or maybe they are worried that a retina iPad Mini would harm their iPad 3 sales? The Kindle Fire HD, that was just released last month, features a 1280 x 800 display with 216 pixels per inch (16Gb model for $199). The display on the forthcoming Nook HD 7″ tablet will go all the way up to a 1440 x 900 pixel resolution (16GB model for $229). It seems that Apple is levying a $100 extra fee just for access to the Apple ecosystem, without the perk of a beautiful, high-definition display. The reduced price iPad 2, which features the same A2 processor and screen resolution, is only $399. In essence, you are buying a no-frills, 7.9″ version of the iPad 2.
All of this is bad news for your wallet and for a key demographic the iPad Mini should have been focused on: eReaders. People who are looking for a reading and web browsing device will be less likely to purchase the iPad Mini. With all of the other incredible options that will be around this holiday season, I would find it hard to pay $329 for a tablet that might as well have been released last fall. Sony just made a similar blunder with their PRS-T2 eReader. Taking last year’s technology and polishing it up for the holiday season might fool some consumers, but anyone who pays attention to what is available on the market today won’t be so easily misled. The Nook HD+ will have a 9″, 1920 x 1280 display (near retina quality), and the 16GB version will cost only $269. There is a good chance that developers will quickly figure out a way to root the device, giving tech-savvy users access to its open Android 4.0 operating system and the Google Play Store. On a high-definition display, text looks sharp and defined; small fonts appear vivid and easily readable, something that is essential for web browsing. Readers will need to go elsewhere to get this type of experience.
Will the iPad Mini be a major failure? Probably not. I’m not sure how many people pay attention to pixel resolutions or product specifications. But they should. In all of the promotional videos I have seen for the Mini, every Apple exec claims that it “isn’t just a shrunken-down version of the iPad,” but that is exactly what it is. After making this point, they immediately pivot to the stylish design and frame of the Mini, not the hardware or software.
When deciding on which tablet to buy myself for Christmas this year, the iPad Mini definitely will not make my Santa list.
Related posts I have read today:
The eBook Reader Blog – “The iPad Mini Has Finally Arrived, And is a Big Disappointment”
CNET – “iPad Mini’s price makes it just a small threat to Android tablets”
The Digital Reader – “The $330 iPad Mini is Going to Cannabalize iPad Sales, Not Android Tablet Sales”
zdnet.com – “A bad apple in the enterprise space” (this article covers the event in detail)
Image source: A screenshot I took of Apple.com (for educational purposes only)