The release of the 4th Generation iPad made me a little fed up, as my 7 month old device became obsolete, but not as unhappy as a colleague who had only purchased his 3rd generation device about six weeks ago.
At about half past nine on Friday, Mrs Zoo Keeper and I headed to the Apple Store in Meadowhall, to have a quick peek, and see what all the fuss was about with this new “big iPhone”. Mrs Zoo Keeper has been using a Samsung Galaxy Tab for the past 2 years or so, and wasn’t expecting much from the new iPad Mini. I was expecting a squashed, heavy iPad 2, with poor resolution and a new, dodgy “Lightning Connector“.
How wrong we both were. Although we didn’t think much to the look of the black device, and I personally thought the back of that would scratch very quickly and easily, the white iPad Mini looked awesome. It was larger than I expected, with a really clear screen, very pretty to look at, and – WOW – the weight of the thing. I’m sure my iPhone 4S feels just as heavy (it’s actually less than half the weight, at 140g vs 308g, but my case won’t have helped), yet even in landscape the screen doesn’t go across the short side of the iPad’s.
Because I’m used to the “Retina Display” of the iPad 3rd generation, I could see the difference in the sharpness of text when I looked close, but it’s definitely better than the iPad 2. Mrs Zoo Keeper thought the screen was extremely clear and she felt that the text looked sharp. We compared the iPad Mini to the iPad 4th Generation in the Apple store, and found app opening, picture opening and rotation to be speedier on the smaller device, despite the theoreticaly half speed processor. As for screen estate, the view on both devices was identical. With font size the same, eBooks showed the same text on the same pages. Settings screens were identical. Evernote showed all notes exactly the same. Photographs looked identical, just as bright and detailed on both screens. The only real difference we noticed was that the 4th Generation iPad started straining my wrist when trying to hold it in one hand – no such issues with the iPad mini.
So – suitably impressed, we left the Apple store and went on our merry way home, discussing the wonderful new toy we’d been playing with, and discussing the availability of accessories, nice cases, things to keep it safe and warm etc. We also discussed that no, we shouldn’t buy one, no matter how nice it was, and no matter how much better than the Samsung Galaxy Tab it was…
Accessories were searched for throughout the evening. Unsurprisingly, there were loads, and the available cases included some defined as “pretty”!
Saturday afternoon saw us driving past Meadowhall, towards Costco for some shopping. Of course, conversation turned to “No, we can’t buy one, no”. So on the way back from Costco we nipped in and bought a 16GB Wi-Fi only white iPad mini. I love the sales process in the Apple store, but there was a brief queue after our final comparisons and decision making were complete. The way they use iPhones to scan the barcode then send the receipt by e-mail is so cool. Anyway, that might be a little off topic… 🙂 We had a brief scan of some shops in Meadowhall for nice cases, but none were perfect, so off home we went (after me dropping the bag/box on my foot, but we’ll ignore that bit).
The cellophane came off the box whilst in the car, and the device was powered on. We only live a mile away from the store, but I guess we both love our technology! It was decided that setup would continue at home, when connected to Wi-Fi.
After taking off our coats, and seeing to the dog, the unboxing commenced! The usual Apple niceties had been observed, with perfect placement in the box, and everything protected and presented nicely. Power on and initial setup went really well, confirming no dead pixels or sticking buttons or anything else nasty!
iTunes was updated, the latest apps brought down, new iPad apps downloaded, then sync started. Only 2.5GB was used, confirming that the 16GB purchase wasn’t a mistake, then play began :
As an iPad user, I was very impressed. Mrs Zoo Keeper tells me she loves it. The Galaxy Tab is reset to factory defaults, photographed and ready to put up on eBay (I’ll post the link to pimp it on this site as soon as it’s up!).
Tethering to the iPhone via Bluetooth was configured, for when outside the house (it’s handbag sized, so probably won’t stay home alone), and it’s working like a dream. The battery was hammered for two good days too.
I don’t know if this is what you can formally call a review, but if it were, I think the iPad mini would get almost full marks – perhaps they’re waiting until the 2nd Generation before they add the “Retina Display” to get 100%. At £269 (+accessories), it’s not exactly cheap, but I’d definitely say it’s good value, and would recommend to anybody wanting a tablet to get out there and buy one!