Review: iPad Air and Retina iPad Mini won't knock your socks off
The best tablets on the market nonetheless feel more like interim upgrades than milestone devices worth ditching older models forFollow @MobileGalen
The iPad Air costs $499 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model, $599 for 32GB, $699 for 64GB, and $799 for 128GB. An iPad Air equipped with a cellular radio costs $130 more, with models available for the AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless networks in the United States. The 16GB Wi-Fi iPad 2 remains available for $399; it makes sense mainly for retailers, hospitals, and others that use the iPad 2 and its Dock connector in field operations, so they need the older model still available for replacements and expansion.
iPad Mini with Retina: The higher-quality screen you can't tell apart
The iPad Mini with Retina Display is even more of an "isn't there more?" upgrade to last year's iPad Mini. It looks, feels, and weighs the same as last year's model. It too gets the new A7 and M7 processors, but again their speed isn't apparent in most uses today.
The big change to the new iPad Mini is the inclusion of the Retina display, which doubles the number of pixels. Some commentators have been whining about the lack of a Retina upgrade since the iPad Mini's debut, as from a spec point of view that made it inferior to the 2011 and later full-size iPad models.
As I noted in my review last year of the iPad Mini, its small size already brought its pixels very close together, creating an almost-Retina-quality display. Thus, I wasn't surprised that I could barely see a quality improvement in the Retina iPad Mini's display this year -- you have to look very hard to see it in small text, some zoomed-in images, and some videos. In fact, when I had people do a blind comparison of the old and new iPad Minis, most couldn't tell them apart, and those who could just as often thought the older model had the Retina display as did those who correctly identified the new model.
I wouldn't be making the display complaint had Apple not decided to raise the iPad Mini's price by $70 (the 16GB Wi-Fi model is $399, versus last year's price of $329 for the original 16GB iPad Mini). That's a big jump in price -- 21 percent! -- for minor benefit. It's even more galling when you realize that Apple did not raise the price for the iPad Air, whose 16GB Wi-Fi model costs the same ($499) as last year's model.
Otherwise, the iPad Mini with Retina Display is the same as last year's model, which makes it an unnecessary upgrade if you already own an iPad Mini. Again, you know a model in the next year or so will be more compelling.
The iPad Mini with Retina Display costs $399 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model, $499 for 32GB, $599 for 64GB, and $699 for 128GB. A model equipped with a cellular radio costs $130 more, with versions available for the AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless networks in the United States. Basically, it's $100 less than an iPad Air. The original iPad Mini remains available in the 16GB Wi-Fi model for $299, a configuration best suited for children's use at home or perhaps in schools.
This article, "Review: iPad Air and Retina iPad Mini won't knock your socks off," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in mobile computing, read Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog at InfoWorld.com, follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter, and follow InfoWorld on Twitter.
InfoWorld executive editor Galen Gruman analyzes the latest issues in mobile technology.
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Galen is author of iOS 7: The "Just What You Need" Book, OS X Mavericks: The "Just What You Need" Book, MacBook Pro Portable Genius, and iBooks Author For Dummies, as well as lead author of Exploring Windows 8 For Dummies. Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen and at Google+.