The consensus is that the non-Retina display on the iPad mini is anything from not good to horrible depending on who you are reading at the moment. I don’t think I’ve read a review yet that hasn’t talked about it in negative terms, with caveats that many consumers won’t mind. I guess I’m in that “won’t mind” camp when it comes to the display, or at least I think I am. But then again, I think quite a few of the negative responses have to do more with the lack of a Retina display combined with the higher price point. Apple’s marketing strategy may have caught up with them on the iPad mini.
This weekend I heard that our local Best Buy had the WiFi version of the iPad mini in stock so I headed over to take a look. I have a 3G/4G model on order that is due to arrive at some point this month, but I wanted to see how things looked and felt. When I got to the Best Buy they didn’t have the mini on display but several sales folk were carrying them around, so I got to take a look for about 20 minutes or so.
Regarding the non-Retina screen and all of the ballyhoo about that, to my eyes I found it to be a non-issue. Note that I said “to my eyes.” We all see things differently, but comparing the iPad mini display to a Retina iPad in the store, the difference, though noticeable, was negligible. Sure, I could see some pixels here and there, but given the size of the screen my opinion was this would be a non-issue for me. Your mileage may vary.
That said, I was surprised at the size of the device in my hand. I knew from the specs and reading that the iPad mini was wider than the 7-inch Tablet I’ve been using, The Nexus 7. But I didn’t expect it to feel quite so large and awkward when attempting to hold it one-handed. I can grasp it around the back, (like the picture) but I feel like my hand is stretched out trying to hold the device. I have average sized hands. The Nexus 7 feels much more comfortable to hold naturally in my hands. Holding the device by one side of the bezel does work well enough, I didn’t notice any problems with my fingers overlapping the screen and errant touches. It’s a good thing Apple made the investment in whatever technology it did to allow users to hold the device this way without activating things on the screen, because for those with hands around my size holding the device by the bezel is going to be the preferred one-handed way. At least I would assume that to be the case.
Twenty minutes isn’t enough time to really judge a device, but in that time, these two observations struck me as significant enough to share. Again, your mileage may vary. Sorry I don’t have pictures to demonstrate this, but the sales reps were not willing to allow me to snap any while I played with the device. I’ll take some when my iPad mini arrives.