Despite the polish and interesting form factor, the mini just seems like it was rushed more than carefully engineered.

Grabbing the iPad mini, you'll notice right away that the unit is not only thin, but quite light. Due to its smaller size in comparison to larger tablets, it's very easy to hold with only one hand, but in doing so, you'll be liable to put your thumb over part of the screen. Depending on the level of oil in your skin, you may also discover that the back is a little on the slippery side, and doesn't grip well. Be careful with this tablet.

Fans of iOS will love the fact that the control interface for the iPad mini is scaled for a tablet and not a phone, meaning that while things will look smaller in relation to the screen like they would on the iPad, your apps will not be re-scaled phone apps that are inefficient in using the whole screen. Touch controls and gestures are the same as they are on the iPad: You tap icons with your finger to toggle them or open apps, you swipe your finger to move pages or turn them, you can pinch your fingers in or out to zoom where applicable, and a five-finger swipe inward will bring you back to the home screen. This can also be accomplished by tapping the home button on the bottom of the bezel, but gestures tend to be more fun.

The control interface for the iPad mini is scaled for a tablet and not a phone

The iPad mini also has many of the same home network sharing features of the fully-sized iPad, which is great: You can push media content to your TV via the AppleTV box that's available for separate purchase, and you can stream media from your computer to your tablet via Wi-Fi and home sharing through iTunes. It may not be crazy-complicated or have the advanced apps of Android, but it works quite well without messing with too much.

Because Apple does not really allow competing media players in its App Store, any file support for music files is limited by what the proprietary system will run. Keep in mind, though, that if you're using the tablet's proprietary store as your main source for media, this will probably never be a problem for you, so don't worry about it too much. You can also convert files on your computer should you need to, though this process can get tedious.

The full-sized iPad may have a retina display, but the iPad mini's screen is not as good.

The has a screen size of 6.3125 x 4.75 inches, and with a resolution of 1024 x 768, giving the mini a pixel density of 162. For those of you with better vision, you'll be able to see the pixels even at a natural position holding the tablet, and all HD content will have to be rescaled for your tablet. To make matters worse, the color gamut and contrast performance is very poor as well, meaning your content will look worse than it would on a television.

After draining the life force (aka stored charge) out of the iPad mini's battery repeatedly, we've determined its life with a full backlight and no wireless to be 6 hours and 3 minutes reading eBooks, and 7 hours, 20 minutes playing movies with terrible acting. Given that the screen is quite bright, you might be able to squeak out more or less battery life depending how you change the settings. This should last you for a short flight, but don't count on hopping an ocean and seeing continuous use of your tablet.

Apple still has the best app market out there.

One of the most notable things that the iPad mini has brought to the table is the fact that the apps available to it are not merely re-scaled phone apps, but actual tablet apps that make the most out of the screen. Additionally, Apple still has the best app market out there, with a huge range of very well-polished apps that get a lot of attention from developers. You should be well-taken care of if media consumption is your aim.

Much like its bigger, badder brother, the iPad (4th generation), the iPad mini has a satisfyingly diverse array of connectivity options. An 802.11n wireless card, Bluetooth 4.0, and wireless streaming options over your home network let you pair external input devices as well as stream content from your tablet to your TV if you have an AppleTV unit. It doesn't have anything fancy like NFC (near field communication), but chances are good that if you don't know what we're talking about, you don't need it.

It's very apparent that this was rushed to production.

After noting the success of smaller form factor tablets like Amazon's Kindle Fire and Google's Nexus7, Apple has followed suit with their own miniaturized tablet, the iPad mini. Overall, despite the polish and interesting form factor, the mini just seems like it was rushed more than carefully engineered. Not only is the tablet under-specced, but it also underperforms in just about every performance measure but battery life.

That's not to say that it's a bad tablet: in fact, the opposite is true. As a media consumption device, it has a very portable and sleek form factor. But it's important to note that its price and hardware shortcomings will definitely surprise and dismay some, and it definitely isn't a great value to those looking for a tablet that will remain up-to-date for a long period of time. Running iOS 6 will help it in the market immensely, but from an enthusiast's perspective, the is more of a disappointment.

At the end of the day, it's Apple's first foray into the smaller tablet arena, and it's not surprising that there are some bumps. In time, you may see iterations of the iPad mini with different features, or enhanced specs, though the price is hard to swallow for those looking for a tablet but not willing to pay the full premium.

The iPad mini may be interesting, but it falls short in terms of raw performance, as it essentially carries many of the same specs and parts of the iPad 2. Notable areas of shortfall include color gamut, contrast performance, and reflectivity.

Poor color and contrast performance, plus high reflectivity to boot.

The has a somewhat high black level of 0.53 cd/m2 , though its respectable peak brightness of 405.33 cd/m2 goes a long way in bailing out the contrast ratio, which sits at 765:1. There is a somewhat minor, but weird problem with the greyscale gamma, as the transition from black to white along the intensity scale is a bit off from what it should be. Thankfully, the error is more academic than anything, and not a noticeably glaring issue.

What is noticeably bad is the color gamut, as not only are reds and greens wildly undersaturated, but the blues are shifted bizarrely like tablets of a bygone era. This was quite common in tablets of 2011, but not so much with the stable of iPads Apple released this year.

Additionally, with a screen size of 6.3125 x 4.75 inches, and with a resolution of 1024 x 768, the mini has a pixel density of 162. Now, the full-sized iPad may have a retina display, but the 's screen is not this good. For those of you with better vision, you'll be able to see the pixels even at a natural position holding the tablet, and all HD content will have to be rescaled for your tablet.

When you take the iPad mini out into the world, one of the most annoying things you'll notice right off the bat is just how reflective the screen is. Not only is the reflection pattern very sharp and distracting, but the coating on the screen does very little to diffuse outside light at all. In fact, it will send about 18.3% of all light shone on the screen back at your eyes, making the image hard to see in direct sunlight.

Fair battery life, but your mileage may vary.

A high screen brightness comes at a cost, and that fee is reduced battery performance. With the backlight cranked as high as it can go, and all wireless and additional apps disabled, the was able to read War & Peace for a grand total of 6 hours, 3 minutes. At about 7 hours and 20 minutes, the 's battery lost the will to live playing back terrible videos of Santa Claus fighting martians.

Meet the testers

Chris Thomas

Chris Thomas

Staff Writer, Imaging

@cthomas8888

A seasoned writer and professional photographer, Chris reviews cameras, headphones, smartphones, laptops, and lenses. Educated in Political Science and Linguistics, Chris can often be found building a robot army, snowboarding, or getting ink.

See all of Chris Thomas's reviews

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