iPad Mini ruins Retina chic

commentary The iPad Mini can make you think unpleasant thoughts about your Retina iPad.

Retina iPad (foreground) and recently purchased iPad Mini with 4G/LTE.
Retina iPad (foreground) and recently purchased iPad Mini with 4G/LTE. Brooke Crothers/CNET

If the iPad Mini is a Gucci tote bag, the Retina iPad is a Rimowa Topas suitcase.

Use the iPad Mini for a while, then reach for the Retina iPad. It's a mild shock every time. That extra metal and glass add up.

So, you might ask: wasn't there some way Apple could have made the Retina iPad less like a dense slab of aluminum attached to a great display?

Probably not. The Retina's 2,048x1,536-pixel screen is demanding. The grams begin to pile up quickly when you pack a display assembly supporting 3 million-plus pixels into a 9.7-inch design and then shoehorn in the kind of battery watt-hours necessary.

By comparison, the Mini's low-resolution (very) 1,024x768 display requires a simpler display assembly -- yielding the Mini's ultralight chassis.

And the Mini is no different than any electronic device: more portability means less stuff, i.e., no Retina. Will Apple and its display partners figure out a way to eventually squeeze a high-resolution display into the Mini? Let's hope so.

For now, Retina entails weight. I can only guess what Apple was thinking when they decided to bring out the iPad 4. "Just as stunning, just as heavy!"

It's still gorgeous but the design wrapped around it is anything but chic.

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About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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