Nov 06, 2012 (10:11 AM EST)
Image Gallery: iPad Mini Hands-On

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Apple's iPad Mini is an expensive but excellent small tablet.

The first thing that wowed me about the Mini was its size and weight. I really can hold it in comfort with one hand. To me that alone is worth the price difference between, say the Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire HD.

Then there are the apps. The first thing I installed was Twitter as it's my favorite social media tool. But after some testing I found that apps from media outlets like The New York Times, The Daily, and BYTE, of course, were what I gravitated to. That's because the Mini's size, weight, and screen make media consumption easy -- so much so that the Mini is now my go-to device for that kind of activity.

Here's a major plus for the iPad Mini: The same apps that work on the iPad work on the Mini, too. That's because the Mini is an iPad 2 only smaller and lighter. It's got a similar processor -- the A5 -- and 512 MB of RAM. Even the display is the same resolution, just shrunk.

In other words, the computing hardware isn't all that impressive, but that isn't the point. The point is that all the iPad apps work out of the box on the Mini. And they work flawlessly. When the chips are down, Apple's app ecosystem is going to be what separates the Mini from the competition.

I wrote this review on the Mini using a Bluetooth keyboard.

Name: iPad Mini

For a first-time tablet buyer the Mini is a great option. It's clearly more expensive than the Kindle Fire or Google Nexus 7, but its size, hardware and app ecosystem make the extra bucks worth it. If you already own a tablet, though, there isn't much reason to rush out and buy a Mini.
Price: $329.00
Pros:
  • The envious look on your friends' faces.
  • Apple's app ecosystem.
  • The size: it fits in hand, easily in a bag.
  • Weight: at 308g it's possible to hold for a long time without fatigue.
  • Easy to read text on.
  • 10 hours of battery life.
  • Easy to hold in two hands and type.
Cons:
  • Stereo speakers in bad place.
  • Starts at $329, significantly more than other tablets in its class.
  • No Apple-provided Google Maps or YouTube apps.