The New iPad Mini: not good news for readers

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)

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56 Responses to The New iPad Mini: not good news for readers

  1. Good review on the iPad Mini. I didn’t realize that the resolution would be worse for reading and web browsing–as you said most people probably don’t focus on the product details….In general, I feel Apple products are overpriced to begin with, but as long as they have people willing to pay for it, they will keep charging what they can. Personally, none of those devices for reading books elentronically has ever appealed to me; I still like the old-fashioned way of holding an actual book in my hand and turning the pages!

    • Andrew says:

      You should give the new Kindle Paperwhite a try (when it ever comes back in stock). I still love physical books; I cherish my rare/OOP collection and Folio Society editions, but I find myself reading more with Kindle. I like having control over what fonts I read, their size, and line spacing. Thanks for your comment. Please like and follow ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Crystal says:

        I just go my Kindle Paperwhite a couple days ago and I LOVE it!
        Also, no more iPads for me. I don’t see the need for one if you have a laptop and a smartphone. Mine has turned into a very expensive toy for my 5-year-old. ๐Ÿ™‚

        • I love my iPad2 (haven’t upgraded yet) and don’t go anywhere without it but for reading I much prefer my Kindle Touch (upgraded some months ago from the Kindle 2). I still have a slight preference for printed books but I thoroughly enjoy the Kindle (and its comfortable e-ink technology). Thanks for the review of the iPad mini … I wasn’t really considering it (given my kindle preference) but it is good to know what’s about …

  2. Agreed. I was disappointed with the price (should have been at least $299) But no retina display? C’mon Apple, it’s almost 2013.

  3. marquixblog says:

    I don’t think it’s all that bad — and wait, a Retina-equipped iPad mini will be there eventually. Rome wasn’t built in a day (and not even Macs or any other Apple products were, or should be, for that matter)…

    • Andrew says:

      The problem with this is that Rome was already built. The Retina display iPad 3 has been on the market for months, and they easily could have included it. Even if they didn’t want to add the cost of retina resolution, they could have at least gone with something around the 2012 industry standard of 1280 x 800. Instead, they just shrunk the iPad 2, and are putting out a bunch of subterfuge about how it isn’t just a ‘shrunken down iPad 2,’ even though that’s exactly what it is. I guess that is my main gripe.

      • Paolo T. says:

        Probably it’s not a matter of cost of the display, but of size of the battery. The higher-resolution display consumes way more.

  4. clemarchives says:

    Unfortunately, unabashed Apple fanatics probably don’t care…

  5. writerdood says:

    Interesting. I would have thought they’d go for a higher resolution. I looked for a comparison and found this: http://www.tabletpccomparison.net/ listing the different resolutions. The iPad 3 was listed at 2048 x 1536, just as you noted. The iPad mini has 1024 x 768 with 162 ppi. In comparison, the Google/Asus Nexus 7 is at 1280 x 800 with a 216 ppi and starts at 200, vs. the iPad mini’s suggested price of around 300. The main difference (other than the screen) is the memory and processor. the iPad mini is superior there, and it looks like that’s where Apple put the money. But speed and memory capacity means little if you don’t enjoy the visual interface. Apple should know that better than anyone. It is odd. I can’t help but wonder if it was due to the rush to get the device out for Christmas. I have a Nexus 7 and an older Kindle. I enjoy reading on both of them, but for reading alone, nothing beats the paperwhite Kindle display.

    • Andrew says:

      I totally agree with you. The Kindle Paperwhite is where it is at. The lighting, while not perfectly even at the bottom, is the most “white” of all the new frontlit displays. I love the versatility of tablets though, so that is why I have decided to buy a Nook HD+ and hope that it gets rooted soon. The B&N-modded Andriod OS looks horrible, but once that gets scraped off, it will be the best tablet you can buy this holiday season. The A2 chip is nice to have in the Mini, but unless you do a lot of heavy 3D gaming, the difference won’t be that apparent.

  6. segmation says:

    I think I will just stick to my iPad. Thanks for sharing this news!

    • Andrew says:

      Good decision. The iPad 3 is either the first or second-best tablet on the market right now, depending on if you are an Andriod or iOS user.

    • justjabari says:

      agreed…I dont think I “get” the iPad mini. My wife wants one badly so I guess it doesnt matter what I think haha

      • Andrew says:

        If she doesn’t mind the lower quality screen, then she will be fine. And when I say lower quality, I don’t mean horrible. Most people probably won’t notice the difference, but I buy devices almost exclusively for long-form reading and web browsing.

  7. combatbabe says:

    I have nothing against apple, but I have noticed that they amp up their products well before the release date giving their consumer feelings similar to your own. And their commercials advertise features that have already hit the market the previously by a competitor. I can only think they don’t appreciate their consumers as well as they should. Or they underestimate them.

  8. Thank you for this post. I’m in the market for an e-reader. I have no interest in any product backed by Amazon, so a mini was on the short list. Now I’m not sure it would be worth it. Good info.

  9. S.C. says:

    Is there anything other to Apple than marketing and style? Aside from the fact that the iPod and related products don’t play certain file formats and force you to use iTunes to sync up your media (a big minus, at least for me) I don’t see how they’re different from cheaper, also well-made products from other brands.

  10. I bought me a nexus 7 just a few days ago. I feel like I made the best choice. It is much cheaper, has better resolution, screen is beautiful and all under Google roof. Google provides more software support than Apple through Google drive, images, blogging, Youtube, flash, etc..

    Apple has a bunch of games that tops the nexus thats all.

  11. The feelings are mutual….though I have written more in layman’s term. Your blog gives more insight.

  12. Very good post, thanks for the quality information on comparing tablets.

  13. Great information. It is great to read product reviews before you buy.

  14. Tony says:

    If the iPad Mini had a retina display it’d have to cost at least $400 and it wouldn’t make sense buying a iPad Mini at $400 when you can buy a iPad 3 for $500, just my 2 cents though.

  15. I must admit…I want one! Anything Apple kind of draws me in, even though by the time I get the latest and greatest there is already an upgrade…great post, congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  16. Aurora HSP says:

    I don’t even have Kindle or anything like it… yet… good to know ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Player #2 says:

    Very nice post, as I was watching the announcement yesterday I realised how much people are attracted only because it is an Apple product. The problem is there are better tablets as you pointed out and cheaper(Basically when a device from Apple comes out, the price is more than $100 more just because it’s an Apple device).

    • Andrew says:

      I could see charging that $329 price-point for a retina or high-definition tablet, but not for a mini iPad 2. I just find it galling that they would repeatedly claim that this isn’t just a “shrunken” iPad 2, just to suggestively plant this concept in consumers’ minds. I am not an Apple-hater (I love my MacBook Pro), but this was just a shoddy attempt to jump into the smaller tablet game.

  18. Ali Veron says:

    Good Info, Thank you!

  19. i’ll take a Nook HD over this iCrap anyday. Really Apple’s balls just keep growing bigger each day.
    Thanks for sharing, and congrats on the FP!
    Cheers

  20. dfarbes says:

    GNI IS MILES BETTER THAN THIS!

  21. kurtman2011 says:

    This review helped me think whether to buy iPad mini or not.
    My wife is telling me what the differences between iPad and iPad mini since Apple’s presentation.
    I myself doesn’t have time to watch it, so this article was a great help!
    Thank you!

    • Andrew says:

      Glad to be of service. Definitely go with the new 9.7″ iPad. It is worth the extra $170.

      • kurtman2011 says:

        She already has The New iPad(3rd generation), but do you think I should upgrade 3rd to the latest iPad?

        • I would say “no”. I’m still rocking an iPad 2 and feel no compulsion to upgrade to 3 or 4. Until apps stop supporting your tablet, why pay the cost to upgrade?

        • Andrew says:

          Not unless you do a lot of graphics intensive gaming, or own a lot of quad-core optimized applications. The iPad (4th gen) is basically the same device with an improved speed processor, but from what I understand about quad-core, when you are doing basic actions like web surfing or reading, the extra cores aren’t used to conserve power. That, and many apps are not quad-core efficient yet, meaning that they don’t know how to use all of that extra oomph. It’s up to you though; some people enjoy upgrading every time their is new iteration available, but my upgrading habits are based on screen quality. The new iPad has the same retina display as the last.

          • kurtman2011 says:

            Thank you so much for your helpful info!

            I will tell this when she asked me to buy one for me.

            BTW, I followed your blog and hope to get more useful info in the future:)

            Thanks!

  22. M.C. James says:

    Great post. As far as I’m concerned, the Kindle Paperwhite is the best e-reader on the market.

  23. Dukooth says:

    Reblogged this on Dukooth.com and commented:
    Definitely a good read for all you readers looking to invest in the new iPad Mini.

  24. yonaphoto says:

    they did not just let downE-readers, also Photographer like me who are looking for a more affordable way to showcase our portofolio’s.. i guess we’ll have to wait the Ipad min 2 or 3 for this… sigh

  25. GalOnTrip says:

    i’m a laid-back in tech and gadget exhibition is coming soon in my hometown, so thanks for sharing the review!

  26. Allie says:

    I suspected that this would happen… Good thing we decided to wait… Thank you so much for sharing!

  27. I posted my own take on this on Wednesday (feel free to read if you like), but basically Apple just let it be known that they don’t feel that they have to compete based on price. Their following is so cult like, maybe they’re right. I think, however, based on their recent decisions, they’re killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. Brand loyalty won’t carry them forever, and they seem to be banking on it.

  28. Brendaline says:

    Wow, this is a good perspective on the iPad mini. It should the norm for Apple to offer a better resolution for their mini item. I personal agree; like the idea of a 9” tablet. I like my Nook 7″ tablet, but would gladly upgrade to a 9″ model for better navigating, reading and the like. Thanks for sharing this post!

  29. levandeltd says:

    The iPad Mini in my humble opinion is another sign that Apple’s shine is dimming. Normally when a new product is released by Apple their fan club are out in force, but since the passing of Steve Jobs, it’s been different. First there was the new connector that resulted in pages of comments, blog articles and tweets of negativity, now the iPad mini has been priced out of the market. What’s next?

    • Andrew says:

      Yeah I can’t believe that Steve Jobs would have let his first-and-only smaller-sized tablet be released with a substandard screen. As I said, they didn’t even have to worry with making it a retina display, they just needed to match the 1280 x 800 industry standard. I think that they want their $499 iPad with Retina Display to be their big bread winner, and in order to keep sales flowing, they needed to make it the only iPad with a high-res screen.

  30. restocktheatre says:

    Thanks for the review. I’ve just decided to catch up with the tablet revolution and am looking around. I’ve got and iPhone and a Mac so I’ll probably go for an iPad. What’s attractive about an iPad is the multiple usages. So you want to browse the web, do email, listen to podcasts, watch videos and so on, as well as reading books. If you want to spend most of your time reading ebooks then the iPad mini may not be the best on the market. But if you want to stay within the Appleverse – and be able to move seamlessly from computer to phone to tablet, then overall it might give you the best experience. Personally I think I’m going to go for the iPad 4.

  31. freedomstump says:

    i think people will just want to buy it because it’s small and cute, and easy to pack and it’s the new apple thing.

  32. iPad Mini = $329 for a 7″ 1024×768 screen
    Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ = $299 for an 8.9″ 1920×1200 screen
    I love the iPad OS, but not that much.
    Now, if someone really loves iPads, wants one in a 7″ size, and also has an e-ink Kindle to read their e-books on, the Mini would be just the ticket. But that’s a narrow market. Most iPad fans are way better off with the iPad 3.

  33. Pingback: The New iPad Mini: not good news for readers « Simpsonville New Home News

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