iPad Mini vs. iPod Touch: Which small-screen iOS device?

Apple's new iPad Mini looks sweet, but an iPod Touch does more for less.

Apple's new iPad Mini is one pricey gadget. James Martin/CNET

No doubt Apple's fresh gadget, the iPad Mini, is a tempting proposition, but starting at $329, it certainly isn't an impulse buy. To be honest, it's downright exorbitantly expensive, and that's not even when stacked up against the Android competition. For instance Apple's own iPod Touch costs $299 for its base model, which offers twice the storage and can tackle practically anything the Mini can.

OK, I can already hear the groans of disapproval, so let me confess that I support the idea of a small-format 5-, 7-, or even 8-inch tablet. I use a Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 regularly, plus I took the Samsung Galaxy Note for a spin without too much drama. I'm also excited about the Galaxy Note 2 , especially for T-Mobile, which hasn't had a lot of powerful devices to offer for quite some time.

That said, paying $30 more for an iOS device that offers less storage space simply because it provides a true iPad experience with a bigger screen is a tough sell. I do admit that for a while the closest comparable Android tablet of similar size to the new iPad Mini was the $349 Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus. But with the $199 Amazon Kindle Fire HD and $249 Google Nexus 7 entering the fray the tablet world has drastically changed.

 

iPad Mini 5th-gen iPod Touch 4th-gen iPod Touch
$329 $299 $249
7.9 inches 4 inches 3.5 inches
7.87 x 5.3 x 0.28 inches 4.86 x 2.31 x 0.24 inches 4.4 x 2.32 x 0.28 inches
11 ounces 3.1 ounces 3.6 ounces
16GB 32GB 32GB

While I myself prefer Android over iOS despite its quirks, even on Honeycomb, I definitely see the appeal of a scaled-down version of Apple's supremely popular device. A slate that's shaped more like a paperback book than a massive clipboard makes sense, too, especially when riding mass transit. You're less likely to elbow people nearby and can conceivably hold a 7-inch tablet one-handed while gripping polls or straps. Coughing up $349 for the privilege doesn't square with me when a fifth-generation iPod Touch does practically the same thing with 32GB of internal memory, not just 16GB. If you want to be even more of an Apple cheapskate then the fourth-generation iPod Touch can be had for $249, also with 32GB of storage.

I have to come clean, though. If the choice were up me, I'd forget both Apple devices and scoop up a Nexus 7 on the cheap. Also keep in mind that Google's mysterious event is next week , and there may be fresh Nexus products unveiled there as well, including, perhaps, a tablet.

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About the author

Brian Bennett is senior editor for appliances at CNET and reviews a wide range of household and smart-home products. These include everything from microwave ovens, blenders, ranges and coffee makers to personal weather stations. An NYC native, Brian now resides in bucolic Louisville, Kentucky where he dreams of someday owning the sparkling house of the future.

 

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