final rating

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Criteria Comments Rating
  • Features I believe it has all the features one would possibly need or want. Oft cited lack of NFC is lame argument as still not anywhere near ubiquitous. great!
  • Display No Retina, but I don't fault Apple for not putting it in yet. Screen is quite capable (and beautiful), and wouldn't want to pay more. great!
  • Battery life Gets me through a full day of heavy use and change. great!
  • Ease of use It's Apple. They set the standard. While I use a lot of Apple products now, I've used a myriad of its competitors over the years to feel I'm being objective. great!
  • Storage capacity In the age of Sugarsync, etc, 64 is plenty for most. It's no secret competitors are being more generous, but then they are using a different business model. good
  • Design and form factor Just a gorgeous device that still manages to amaze me every time I pick it up. Johnny Ive has once again designed a product that, while sleek, is not cold. great!
  • Portability (size / weight) I never get tired holding this thing. Also, glad they did not opt for 16:9 ratio like competitors. great!
  • Durability While not fine China, Apple did not make this thing to be held in an indiscriminate fashion when used without a full body, impact resistant case. good
Detailed review
I have a dual display desktop for work, and the iPad mini has replaced a first generation iPad for my on-the-road computing needs that would be frustrating to do on my smartphone. With Siri, it has quickly become my personal assistant. Tasks I previously used to do primarily on my smartphone are now being done more on the iPad mini with the exception of those times when I am literally on the go (ex. at the gym, shopping, short train rides).
As for who the iPad mini is meant for, it is the perfect companion device for many who still rely on a full blown computer but have light computing needs when on the go. Also, this device would serve someone well who wants more than just an E-reader in a tablet but favors something negligible in weight. Finally, for those with very little technology needs, this device could be a great fit.

Apple has been hammered in the press for not including NFC, for using 4:3 aspect ratio, and not including a Retina display. I live in a major U.S. city, and I cannot think of one place NFC is accepted. Plenty of check-in (ex. Four Square) and pay services (ex. Starbuck's loyalty card) manage to function quite well absent NFC. In fact, it is location-aware services like Square or Apple's Passbook that I believe are much more elegant. The 4:3 aspect ratio just feels more natural to me. While I still enjoy reading the more 16:9 newspaper daily, magazines with their more 4:3 aspect ratio feels more natural ingesting content. As for the Retina display issue, as someone coming from a first generation iPad, this transition is actually a step up with the same number of pixels squeezed into less space. There has obviously been other tweaks to the display, because colors and detail just pop. That competitors meet the HD standard of 720p while the iPad mini falls just short seems more like marketing spin to me. I can't fault Apple, either, for not including Retina as it seems to be agreed upon by the tech journalists that the price would have gone up, and I think the entry level price point is fine for what one gets (especially without having to give their private information away to Google). I find this trend to get cheaper devices at the cost of privacy quite alarming and one I'm not ready to support.