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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