So what is up with Apple's new iPad mini? Isn't it pretty much a shrunken iPad 2 with neither a hi-res Retina display nor Apple's latest and fastest processor? It's really not much of an advance. More of a gimmick or a blocking move vs. 7 inch Android tablets. Who would buy such a thing? Um, me.
Why? Earlier this year I bought an iPad 3 for the family. I pledged that it would be a stay-at-home iPad, and I would continue to use my 4G iPod Touch for on-the-road music making (and listening). I have kept that pledge, but as I have used the iPad at home for songwriting and making demos, the Touch has gotten to feel very small. Hard to use those tiny keyboards and recording app controls. Slow. Memory problems. In the meantime, my wife has found that the big iPad is ideal for some of the work she is doing, and she uses it a lot. Plus I rationalized that an iPad would too big for my already heavy computer bag when I travel. So I would muddle through with the Touch.
Enter the mini. A 7.9 inch, 1024 x 768 display that matches the resolution of the iPad 2, so thousands of apps work perfectly from day one. Light weight (Wifi-only version is 0.68 lbs. or 308 grams). Easy to hold in one hand. Travel friendly. So I ordered a 32 GB Wifi version as soon as I could (my iPod Touch will still by main music listening machine).
So far, I love it. Due to its light weight, it's better than the full size iPad for reading magazines and the NY Times (though I still use the iPhone app for NYT because they charge a lot more for the iPad subscription). It's great for all my music making apps (GarageBand and various synths). It's also great for email, web browsing, and blogging (like now).
I do notice the somewhat coarser screen resolution (163 pixels/inch) compared to the iPad 3 (264 ppi). But it really doesn't bother me when I read magazines or web sites. The new "Lightning" connector is annoying in that it doesn't work with Apple's own camera connection kit (even with Apple's own expensive adapter). I haven't tested the audio and MIDI interfaces I have with the adapter yet - hope they work (tested last night - they both work fine). But overall I'm very happy with the mini and look forward to using it on my next long airline trip.