Review: Surprise -- the iPad Mini doubles as business tablet

The iPad Mini's small size doesn't hinder many apps, whereas the fourth-generation iPad adds little value

The iPad Mini is no question the best media tablet, easy to use on the go or on the couch for playing games, watching movies, and reading books. But can it hack it as a "regular" tablet despite its smaller size? It's the only media tablet that has all the same capabilities as a full-size tablet -- it's an iPad through and through, as Apple continually reminds people with its "every inch an iPad" slogan. That full iPadness is one reason the Mini costs more than other media tablets.

In fact, the iPad Mini's small size and light weight (at 12 ounces, half that of a full-size iPad) may have greater appeal in some business contexts, especially in field force, logistics, and retail usage where people aren't working with Office documents and complex websites.

[ See which media tablet InfoWorld recommends in our hands-on deathmatch review of the iPad Mini, Google Nexus 7, and Kindle Fire HD. | Get expert advice about planning and implementing your BYOD strategy with InfoWorld's "Mobile and BYOD Deep Dive" PDF special report. ]

On the other hand, the iPad Mini is less powerful than the full-size iPad, especially now that Apple has released the fourth-generation iPad, which boasts a new processor (the dual-core A6X) and the 264-pixels-per-inch Retina display for more-natural-looking images and crisper text. The iPad Mini's resolution is just 163 ppi, and it uses the same dual-core A5 chip as the 18-month-old iPad 2, which is still available in the 16GB Wi-Fi-only version for $399.

The iPad Mini also skimps in the camera department. Its rear camera has no flash and lacks the ability to take high-dynamic-range (HDR) photos. Even the new, fifth-generation iPod Touch sports an LED-equipped camera and supports HDR photography.

When you look at its hardware components, the iPad Mini is little better than the iPad 2. In fact, it's clear that the iPad Mini is essentially a shrunken iPad 2, though with Siri voice recognition and stereo speakers.

InfoWorld Scorecard
Hardware (10.0%)
Business connectivity (20.0%)
Security and management (20.0%)
Application support (15.0%)
Usability (15.0%)
Web and Internet support (20.0%)
Overall Score (100%)
Apple iPad (fourth-generation) 9.0 8.0 8.0 9.0 9.0 9.0 8.6
Apple iPad Mini 8.0 8.0 8.0 9.0 9.0 9.0 8.5
Asus Google Nexus 7 (2012 edition) 6.0 7.0 7.0 7.0 7.0 8.0 7.1
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7-inch 7.0 7.0 7.0 7.0 7.0 7.0 7.0
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