Apple debuts iPad mini; Google and Amazon in race to the bottom

Apple today announced the highly-anticipated iPad mini with everything you could want in a tablet in a more manageable form factor. And it's Google and Amazon's worst nightmare.

 

Apple debuts iPad mini, Google and Amazon in race to the bottom - Jason O'Grady

 

Apple held a "little" media event today at the California theatre in San Jose that turned out to be anything but "little" -- at least as far as hardware is concerned. Apple announced five (count 'em!) new hardware devices, including:

In this post I want to discuss the new iPad mini (press release), which is hands-down (pun regretted) the most important product since the original iPad. During today's event Apple announced that it has sold more than 100 million full-size iPads and I'm convinced that it can sell even more 7.9-inch iPad minis. 

Because it ships with a 7.9-inch panel (29.6 square inches) the iPad mini has a 35% larger display than competing mini tablets from Google and Amazon. A typical 7-inch tablet display is 21.9 square inches. This means that the vaunted Nexus 7 from Google/ASUS is thicker and heavier than the iPad mini, and it has a smaller screen.

But, miniaturization (and polish) comes at a price and the iPad mini costs more than the competition. At $329 the 16GB iPad mini costs $80 more than the 16GB Nexus 7. Google and Amazon are rumored to be prepping price cuts to stave off the iPad mini threat and will fight each other in a race to the bottom while Apple will outsell both combined and continue to dominate the tablet space for the conceivable future. 

New features in the iPad Mini include:

  • 7.9-inch Multi-Touch display
  • 1024 x 768 pixels
  • 162 pixels per inch (PPI)
  • Dual-core Apple A5 chip
  • 7.2mm thick - 23 percent thinner than the iPad 3
  • 0.68 pounds - 53 percent lighter than the iPad 3
  • FaceTime HD front camera
  • 5MP iSight read camera (1080p)
  • 802.11n
  • 10 hours of battery life
  • Lightning connector
  • Optional LTE radio ($130 premium)
  • Colors: black & slate or white & silver

Wi-Fi models:

  • 16GB - $329
  • 32GB - $429
  • 64GB - $529

LTE models:

  • 16GB - $459
  • 32GB - $559
  • 64GB - $659

All iPad mini models will be available for pre-order Friday, October 26, the WiFi model will be shipping on November 2 and the LTE model will be shipping a week later on November 9.

While it doesn't have a Retina Display, I have a feeling that this is the iPad that everyone secretly wants. The 10-inch iPad is a great device as a computer replacement, but can feel unwieldy for casual usage. For me, the large iPad always feels just a tad too big for my taste. When I need a bigger screen, I prefer my MacBook Air. Being a writer I absolutely require a device with a keyboard 75 percent of the time, and that's my MacBook Air. 

When I'm strictly consuming content and reading for pleasure (no keyboard required) I'd much rather have a 7-inch device because it's smaller, lighter and generally easier to manage. I can definitely see "post PC" users, gamers and movie buffs preferring the larger iPad, but for an evening/weekend/holiday/reading-in-bed device, I favor the iPad mini's 7.9-inch form factor. 

The iPad mini will sell like gangbusters in the fourth quarter because everyone with a full-size iPad will want one, and most new iPad buyers will be drawn to its smaller footprint and lower price tag. Apple hit a grand slam home run with the iPad mini, no question about it. 

What's your tablet of choice?