The tablet landscape, at the smaller-screened end, has become about pricing. Or so it seems. Don’t tell that to the iPad Mini. Apple’s long-awaited, and finally real, tinier tablet is remarkably thinner and lighter than its big-boned, newly arrived fourth-gen iPad sibling, but it also starts at $329, a price that’s well above the bargain-basement $199 target floated by devices like the Nexus 7, Amazon Kindle Fire HD, and Nook HD.
Certainly, the tablet playing field — especially when it comes to media — is leveling. The Kindle’s book, video, and app ecosystem is impressive in its own right. The Nook has made gains with its apps and services. Android has Google Play. Regardless, none of these can truly compare to the breadth of content from Apple’s App Store and iTunes. The App Store is Apple’s great gold mine, and the iPad Mini’s price seems to be banking on you knowing that. And, in that sense, the iPad Mini may be worth its price.
But, the original iPad hit a sweet-spot $499 price that few competitors could match. The Mini’s price is about $130 higher than many similar 7-inch tablets that undercut it. It’s even more expensive than some newly arriving 8.9-inch tablets from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
The good: The iPad Mini’s ultrathin and light design is far more intimate and booklike than the larger iPad, and its cameras, storage capacities, optional LTE antenna, and general functionality offer a full iPad experience. The screen’s dimensions elegantly display larger-format magazines and apps.
The bad: The iPad Mini costs too much, especially considering the lower resolution of its 7.9-inch non-Retina Display. The A5 processor isn’t as robust as the one in the fourth-gen iPad and iPhone 5. Typing on the smaller screen is not quite as comfy.
The bottom line: If you want the full, polished Apple tablet experience in a smaller package, the iPad Mini is worth the premium price. Otherwise, good alternatives are available for less money.