Tech reviewers The Verge wrote that, “There’s something endearing about the mini that makes you want to keep it on-hand and use it often.” Apple’s new brainchild, the iPad Mini, will reach stores on November 2nd. As the Californian tech giant is wont to do, the iPad Mini is lighter and thinner than its predecessor, making it the first iPad that can fit in one hand. Apart from the design changes, the iPad Mini sports a pair of cameras (front and back), to record HD video, shoot pictures, and video chat to your heart’s content. It also has the lighting connector, Siri, iCloud, and pretty much every recent Apple innovation that you would expect it to have – everything except a retina display. To the untrained eye, the iPad Mini’s screen will look pretty good – 7.9 inches of bright colour; but if you’re used to the iPhone 5, the latest iPad, or the latest Apple computers, you may balk at the lower resolution. If that really is an issue, it’s a safe bet to assume that Apple will launch an iPad Mini with retina display early next year.
But then there’s the price. £269 for the basic 16GB model, and if you want to connect without Wi-Fi, you’re looking at £369 for same 16GB with cellular capabilities. So why spend nearly £400 on a hand-sized tablet? Devices of this size pull their weight by having enough power to run powerful applications. Couple this power with portability and a good camera, and you’ve entered the tablet market. For a student, £400 is steep, so it’s worth checking out the competition. The Kindle Fire HD is a great contender; it runs a unique and powerful version of Google’s Android system, but is also small and practical. The screen is gorgeous, it has powerful speakers, and one forward-facing camera. The downside is that the Fire HD is basically a media device that happens to include internet, email, and pretty basic document viewing. Still, for only £160, so it’s a good deal. Samsung also has a 7 inch tablet, the Galaxy Tab 7 Plus. The Tab is good-looking, runs a version of Android, features a nice camera on the back, and has some productivity apps as well as social apps and games. Amazingly, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 Plus also works on cellular networks, not just for internet, but as a phone. For about the same price as the iPad mini, it’s very tough competition. The quality and design of the iPad Mini are tangibly superior, and it drops nicely into anyone’s established Apple ecosystem, but the Galaxy Tab 7 Plus’ functionality as a phone is very enticing.
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