Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The iPad Mini version 1. Don't pack up the backpacks yet!

I have not yet seen the presentation tonight for the iPad Mini, but I must say that I am a little disappointed by what I have seen on the specs page.  There is one glaring omission from the specs that I fully expected to see at the rollout:  The Retinal Display.

I suspect that it must be very difficult and indeed expensive to produce retinal displays.   This is the only reason that I can fathom for Apple not having one included on the iPad Mini. And this is a big deal!

The iPad Mini has been touted for schools and reading, with an updated version of iBooks available today on account of the iPad Mini's presence.  Further confirmation that Apple is promoting this as a reading tool to take on Amazon, Google and Barnes & Noble.  But take a look at the following Specs and we can see that this is not going to be a pleasurable long term reading experience:

Amazon Kindle Fire HD $249.00  7"   1280 x  800   (216 ppi)*   720p HD.

Google Nexus 7  $249 (16 gb) WXGA (1280 x 800) LED backlit IPS panel,  (216 ppi)

Apple iPad Mini  $329  1024-by-768 resolution at (163 ppi)

* ppi  "Pixels per inch or PPI is a measure of the number of pixels displayed in an image. A digital image is composed of samples that your screen displays in pixels. The PPI is the display resolution not the image resolution."   (http://desktoppub.about.com/od/glossary/)

(To learn more about ppi, go to About.Com (http://desktoppub.about.com/od/glossary/g/PPI-Pixels-Per-Inch.htm)

If you are looking for a comparison, look no further than the non back lit Amazon Kindle Keyboard and Kindle Touch.  Both display e-ink wonderfully in sunlight, but the display is made for this type of resolution.  Both have resolutions of 167 ppi.  A fourth generation iPad costing over $300 should not be on par in resolution with either a $69 or $139 device which are the respective prices for the Kindle Touch and Kindle Keyboard.  Granted, one will do a lot more with the iPad Mini than with a Kindle, but if you are going to tout the excellent reading experience, any PPI < 200 should not even be considered for long term casual, let alone technical reading.   It's just not a suitable device to do this.  Additional eye strain will ensue when reading as it did with the glaring screen resolution of the iPad 2, which I own.

Perhaps the advertising gurus at Apple will tout the ECO-System that Apple has, along with the automatic scaling of current apps to the new display and screen size; or  tout the iPad Mini's excellent form, relatively fast chip and convenience.  Perhaps.    But what cannot be touted with version 1 of this device is the aspect of long term reading.  This is just not the device to do that.  And for this I am afraid that I will have to pass on the iPad Mini for my own kids who were initially excited about the device, but who are now, for the reasons that I have just explained,  sad and disappointed.  You see, this device would have doubled as a textbook holder for about 3 thick textbooks which are also available online.   Add to that, the iBook store and Amazon's Kindle store having all of the books needed for their English and Drama classes and that large back pack would have been downsized.

Not to worry kids, we all know better than to buy version 1 of a Tech Product.   Version 2 may give us everything that we really want.

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