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The iPad mini Display Looks Fine to Me

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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.

heroRegarding 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.

Warner Crocker is a professional theatre director, producer and playwright and also a Tablet PC enthusiast. He is also a Microsoft MVP for Tablet PCs. Send email to Warner. You can follow him on Twitter or Google+

3 Comments

  1. George

    11/12/2012 at 7:46 am

    There might not have been anything wrong with this display 2 years ago, maybe even 18 months ago…but you can’t look at it in absolute terms now because of the difference when compared to HD resolution tabs.

    This is where apple are screwed – they cant bump this up to 720p or higher resolution without causing issues when apps are converted from retina display. equally i cant see them getting the ipad resolution onto one of these.

    Just gonna have to put up with it, and for true itards it won’t be a problem. I’m sure they’d still rave about it if it was in 640×480.

  2. Doublethink

    11/12/2012 at 10:39 am

    Honestly, I feel the who “no retina” argument is blown out of proportion. I spent a good hour at the store comparing different tablets (iPad mini, Nexus 7, and iPad 4th gen). I decided to start with the Nexus 7, then try the 4th gen iPad to see difference between Android and iOS, and then after letting myself get used to retina, I went to iPad mini. Sure you can see pixels, but ONLY if you consciously look for them. To be honest, I actually picked up the iPad 2 as opposed to the iPad 4th gen at first because I didn’t notice any real difference. The display is not a problem whatsoever. Unless you like to have the best of the best of the best displays and “Oh, watch it for me if I see a freaking pixel on the screen at all!” you won’t have a problem with the mini whatsoever. When you take it home, you can’t compare it to retina (unless you already have one) but you aren’t going to care. You’re only going to care if the whole time you use the apps you are thinking “dammit I see a pixel there! and there too! Haha, you’ve won this time Apple! I see your pixely tricks!!” Otherwise, the display is not only manageable, but still very good. It isn’t the best. But people only think it’s the worst because they’re too cheap to even consider anything below the best.

    Also, Nexus, Kindle, Nook, all of those have worse display than iPad (not less than mini, just the iPad) but will that affect your decision? It’s not about graphics, it’s about quality and usability. Society has become too obsessed with graphics. If a video game has good graphics, people will say it’s better than some games with some of the best stories. It’s also why some people say the Transformer movies are their favorite, just cause of the graphics. Graphics aren’t everything people. Sure they need to advance, but as long as it’s good, why do you care so much?

  3. JC

    11/12/2012 at 1:58 pm

    The new Mini iPad isn’t the only new tablet released this month — the Novo 7 Flame 32GB also just launched – which offers an impressive 7 Inch tablet priced at $189 at a site called TabletSprint — The Novo 7 Flame Android tablet is sleek and compact and offers a 1280×800 High Resolution screen, Dual Core CPU, 32GB Memory, MicroSD portable storage, an HDMI connection to your TV with full 1080p (HD) that’s great for movie downloads, a 5-megapixel Rear Camera with AF & LED Flash and a 2 MP webcam; Plus great connection – Bluetooth, WiFi, Ethernet, and options for 3G. The tablet is made by Ainol Electronics, which received a “Best Tablet of the Year” award at CNET Consumer Electronics Show 2012 – Two other models are also being released in November and both offer 10-inch displays with high resolution screens; one includes most features as above, with a Dual Core CPU and a 1280×800 display for $220; and a similar model that offers most features of the new Nexus 10 – Plus an even more powerful Quad Core CPU; and a 1920×1200 Liquid Crystal display (like Apple’s Retina screen) for $270. All provide pretty nice specs and pricing and one of the first online sites to offer these new models is TabletSprint — which also offers with each tablet an option for a free 3G/4G 500MB monthly data plan with full internet access/VoIP calling in the U.S. — Certainly worth checking out and reviewing –

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