#techreview November 2012
In this month's #techreview column, I take a look at the iPad mini and the Kindle Paperwhite.
Starting with a product somewhat controversial and worthy of provoking a debate, making an impact on the market from a number of perspectives: The 'iPad mini'. The primary factor being the screen size: 7.9". What's interesting is the fact that the iPad mini combines enhanced hardware (although no Retina Display) with existing iOS software, also coming as great news to iOS developers, as no 'downscaling' is required to develop applications for the iPad mini platform specifically. How some have interpreted the iPad mini is an unnecessary 'reduction', adding an extra item to the existing flow of differentiating between small-screen iOS devices and the iPad.
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I've had a look at the iPad mini, took some notes and compared the overall form factor to that of the iPad 3rd Generation - I'm impressed with some features, although feel one key element isn't that great - although the iPad mini is noticeably lighter than the normal-size iPad, the display isn't a Retina Display, and with a close look, the display evidently is less crisp than the iPad 3rd Generation or the iPad with Retina Display, for example. Other than the lower-standard display, the iPad mini is actually quite impressive. It does lineup to the 'fits in one hand' image 'statement', and does actually provide the same iOS experience. Typing was one area where difference between the full sized iPad and the iPad mini was also minimal, with only a few mistakes made when typing at a constant speed on the keyboard of the iPad mini.
If you're familiar with the feel of the iPad, there are some noticeable differences in overall feel of the iPad mini - although lighter and thinner, it feels somewhat less streamlined than the full size iPad, primarily down to the 'backing' of the device. The connecting adapter type is the recently introduced Lightning connector. On a different note, there are Apple Smart Covers (front, magnetic) specially for the iPad mini, although interestingly, Apple did not manufacture Smart Cases (full iPad protection, snaps in) specifically for the iPad mini. I could really envisage the iPad mini being used to stream a Keynote across to an Apple TV - it's the ideal device for giving presentations - not too bulky, not too small and fiddly. It's a familiar experience in a smaller device - whether the iPad mini presents itself, as a suitable and smaller Apple tablet, is your opinion.
Are you an avid reader, especially at night? You may be interested in the latest e-reader in the Kindle range: the Paperwhite. Amazon's Kindle range of physical electronic readers (e-readers) has evolved over the years, from the basic Kindle to more advanced, tablet-style devices, such as the Kindle Fire. The Paperwhite, being reviewed this month, has a focus on hardware, optimised for use anytime, anywhere. The standard Paperwhite is £109 and has really been pushed for great build and hardware quality. It weighs 213 grams and is 9.1mm (0.91cm) thick. There's also a 3G version, which allows unparalleled mobile internet access for downloading books and more, costing £60 more, at £169. Battery life on the Paperwhite is advertised at lasting up to 8 weeks. I'm primarily an iPad user, with electronic reading applications (iBooks/Kindle) installed, although it seems in some cases, a physical electronic reader seems more appropriate, especially for users who just want reading functionality, presented in the form of a sleek and functional device, so I can't confirm the advertised battery life, although as the Paperwhite seems to be focused on hardware and the reading experience, a battery life of around 8 weeks seems plausibly accurate.
The Kindle Paperwhite currently stands as a market leader, combining form factor and style with the consistent Kindle platform for reading books, documents and more. From a screen view, it's engineered to implement a manually controlled backlight, for night reading that seems to be easier on the eyes, as well as a generally higher definition screen. It's not LCD or LED, moreover it's E-ink, or electronic ink, which is consistent through all the standard Kindle e-readers. It's crisp, sharp and has a paper-esque feel, sans-pixels or other lighting and display technologies. The Kindle platform is quite personal, with reading features such as bookmarking, noting and sharing, as well as typefaces of your choosing for optimum reading quality. What's interesting is from one perspective, I would enjoy using a Paperwhite as an individual, single purpose reading device as the thought of E-ink feels much more comfortable and relaxed than the same display of the iPad for all purposes.