In another example of the world’s worst kept secret, Apple unveiled its iPad Mini on Tuesday, finally giving in to the urge to enter the 7in tablet arena and follow Google and Amazon's blazing trails.
Apple doesn’t normally like following suit and playing catch-up to its competitors, as seen by the launch of the original iPod, iPhone and iPad. However, in this instance the firm has had to concede defeat and launch its iPad Mini after the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD have already hit the market.
We’ve taken a look over the key specs of all three of the small form factor tablets, to see which we think will be the winner with buyers, and whether it’s worth holding out for the iPad Mini if you are in the market for a 7in tablet, or go for the Nexus 7 now or the Kindle Fire HD when it’s launched on Thursday in the UK.
The Apple iPad Mini features a 7.9in LED-backlit multi-touch display with IPS technology, and the 1024x768 resolution offers 163 pixels per inch (ppi). However, it has stopped short of bringing its gorgeous Retina display with 3.1 million pixels to the smaller version.
The Kindle Fire HD and Google Nexus 7 top this with identical 7in HD screens with a resolution of 1280x800 with an impressive 216 ppi. Google also uses IPS for its Nexus 7, while Amazon said it has added a polarising filter and anti-glare technology to its Kindle, for even better viewing angles.
But Apple points out that with its extra 0.9in and uncluttered display, the iPad mini offers 29.6 square inches of screen, or 35 percent more screen real estate than other 7in tablets at 21.9 square inches and up to 67 percent more usable viewing area when browsing the web in landscape mode or 49 percent in portrait, due to the tabbed browsing experience and navigation buttons on Android devices.
On this basis, it seems the Kindle Fire HD (below) is the best bet for screen quality, although for those looking for a tablet to use mainly to watch video or play games, that extra screen real estate from the iPad Mini could come in handy.
The iPad Mini runs off a dual-core A5X processor, the same as on the iPad 2 and we can confirm this is powerful enough for nippy browsing and a smooth gaming or media playback experience on the full sized device, so it should translate to the mini too. Apple didn’t reveal the memory size.
The Nexus 7 packs a quad-core Tegra 3 processor and 1GB of RAM, and we’ve been impressed with the performance of the Nexus 7 for any task thrown at it. The Kindle Fire HD offers a 1.2Ghz dual-core processor, with unspecified memory.
Based on the integrated graphics work Apple has done with its previous tablets, we’d say the iPad Mini will offer one of the best performances in the smaller form factor, but the Nexus 7 will give it a close run.