iPad mini First Impressions

Owning a small software company that produces iOS apps has a huge benefit: I have access to all the latest and greatest devices Apple makes. Actually it is a necessity: we have to measure their cameras on our optical bench for Viewfinder. And most of them will remain here after that as a test device.

We have an iPad 4th generation for weeks, it works as expected, but nothing to write home about (except that I had to send the first one back because its display had an ugly green cast in the upper left corner).

The mini is a completely different story, though. When I got the package earlier today, I was really surprised by the weight. I knew that it’s light, just expected a heavier package. Back in the office I told Agnes: “Two words: mine and want are invalid, so don’t say them”. She looked at the device and quickly replied: “no dinner – how about these two?”

Joking aside (the ownership of the mini is still undecided, however – and we are after the dinner), here’s a quick rundown of my initial impressions.

  • This is the ideal size for me as a content consumption device. Reading books, websites, Flipboard-ing, things like these. The classic iPad is way too heavy to hold for extended periods of time and tends to punch a hole in my left palm in the position I usually hold it. I spent the last two hours reading Kindle books on it and really enjoyed the experience. Way more than on the classic iPad (retina or not). I suspect that I’ll read more books in the coming weeks than I usually do.
  • Performance is great, but even the iPad 2’s perf was OK for me. I don’t play OpenGL-heavy games on the iPad, so can’t talk about that part (XPlane 9 is fast enough).
  • The screen – well, it’s lacking. In my usual reading distance it’s pretty good, but way worse than anything retina. On the retina iPad I can read pretty small type without strain – the mini’s screen is not so easy on my eyes. I find myself zooming in more often than with the retina iPad. Actually it’s the same thing I experienced with the iPad 2. Reading Kindle books is more than OK, however.

All in all, I love the mini. For reading PDFs and anything high resolution I still reach for the retina iPad. Every other aspect of my iPad usage is a better fit for the mini. And I have some rather ambitious plans with the device…

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