iPad mini stands out in competitive tablet market

The compact version of Apple's hugely popular iPad makes its debut tomorrow

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 November, 2012, 3:20am

Apple fans in Hong Kong will find that size matters in the media tablet market, as the new iPad mini delivers nearly everything that the full-sized iPad has.

The iPad mini, which will be available in the city and 33 other markets from tomorrow, is built with a 7.9-inch display compared with the 9.7-inch screen on a full-sized iPad.

A side-by-side comparison with the new, fourth-generation iPad showed that the iPad mini runs all the typical applications designed for the larger tablet, with ease.

Web pages, documents and electronic magazines open instantly and fill the screen, in either landscape or portrait mode. The more than 275,000 iPad-specific applications, including games, that are found in Apple's online App Store all work without restrictions on the iPad mini. Battery life is around 10 hours.

At 7.2 mm thin and weighing 308 grams, the iPad mini is 23 per cent thinner and 53 per cent lighter than the full-sized iPad. That made it easy to hold and operate with one hand, when standing inside a crowded bus or train, during a recent field test by the South China Morning Post.

What the aluminium-cased iPad mini lacks is the ultra-high-definition screen, called Retina display, found on newer iPads and iPhones. This display offers 2048-by-1536 resolution, more than the 1920-by-1080 resolution on a typical high-definition television.

First-time tablet buyers may balk at the iPad mini's cost compared with rival 7-inch tablets. Prices for its Wi-fi version start from HK$2,588. Google's updated Nexus 7, with Wi-fi and cellular connection, will cost US$299, while Amazon's Kindle Fire HD sells for about HK$1,499.

For other consumers who had long wanted an iPad, but did not like the big display or steep price, the iPad mini may well serve as a more practical and affordable option.

The new fourth-generation iPad was also launched last week, closely following the release of Apple's third-generation tablet in March.

The full-sized iPad's most striking feature is its Retina display, on which text is razor sharp, colours are vibrant and photos and videos are rich with detail.

The new iPad runs the Apple-designed A6X processor, which is twice as fast as the A5X chip on the previous iPad. The new processor makes the new iPad feel more responsive, enhancing the lifelike graphics in a test of the free racing game GT Racing: Motor Academy.

The new iPad's Wi-fi model is priced from HK$3,888. Both the iPad mini and new full-sized iPad will be sold at the online Apple Store, the two Apple-brand shops in Central and Kowloon Tong, and authorised resellers from tomorrow.

The Wi-fi plus 4G models of the two new iPads will be released later this month. Prices for the iPad mini version start from HK$3,588, while the full-sized iPad version will cost from HK$4,888.