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CNET First Look
iPad Mini with Retina display: Apple's little tablet gets a big boostThe Mini finally gets a higher resolution display, but that's not all: it's got the same faster A7 processor as the iPhone 5s and iPad Air, too. It's a perfect small tablet, but it's also more expensive than last year's Mini. We take a closer look.
Hi. I'm Scott Stein and this year is the iPad Mini with Retina display. You know, it was a year ago that we looked at the iPad Mini and we said, "Well, here's a small, really light iPad. What's it missing? Retina." Well, in 2013, you get the Retina and it's finally available on sale now, but there are two things. First of all, it's expensive; $399 is the starting price, so it's more expensive than last year's iPad Mini, but also it's got a lot more under the hood. It's got an A7 processor. It's got a Retina display, that's the same resolution as the iPad Air that was just released. And it's got all the other bells and whistles as the larger iPads. So, really, it's a shrunken down larger iPad that you're saving 100 bucks on. It doesn't sound like a bad deal if you're looking for a top-of-the-line tablet, but it's expensive if you're looking for a really small tablet. If you hold it in your hands, it doesn't feel any different than last year's Mini. It's a little bit heavier, 0.73 pounds, and the display, again, the resolution, is 2048x1536. That is a very high resolution, 326 pixels per inch. So, it's a higher PPI than the iPad Air and that bests just about everything out else that's out there. Compared to get something like the more affordable tablet market, however, you can see there are a lot of tablets with super high-resolution displays. Kindle has got high-resolution Fire tablets now. You got the Nexus 7 which has a 1080p display in a 7-inch tablet. Held side by side, this still has a higher pixel resolution, but you can see that there's a lot of stuff out there competing. What this has got under the hood, though, that A7 processor and an M7 processor for tracking and it's also got better LTE and Wi-Fi in here for faster throughput and better range and you can only-- if you do opt up for the LTE version, no, that this will work across the world and across carriers, you can SIM swap to your heart's content, so you don't have to pick one particular carrier to stick with which is nice. So, all of that adds up to a lot of things that the competition doesn't have. No, there's no Touch ID. What do you use this for? Well, definitely, for better reading, for videos, for games. And the good news about the Mini is that for all the apps that we've thrown at it, that I've thrown at it, you can see that they all work really well in this size. They don't feel cramped. And so that's why having that bumped up, compared to last year, is helpful. I mean, if you had the iPad Mini that had an A5 processor, this goes up to the A7, so it's kind of like a two-year leap in terms of performance upgrade compared to your year-over-year on iPads. Does that mean you should upgrade? Well, you know, some people may still prefer the iPad Mini 'cause it's $100 less expensive and the screen, for a lot of people, might look perfectly fine. If you pay for the LTE, you're paying an extra $130 more, so it starts at $529. Then, you start bumping up to something like 128 gigabytes which is the top-end configuration and you're looking and saying that's pushing $800. No, I'm not generally one for taking pictures on my iPad, but the front-facing FaceTime HD camera in the new iPad Mini has better light sensitivity and makes you look generally snazzier. The only other thing that's different in the box is that there's now a 10-watt charger as opposed to the 5, so the brick is a little bit larger and that's it. If you want to get Retina in an iPad Mini, this is the time. You do have to spend a little more money. The funny thing is, though, the iPad Air is pretty close in weight, 0.73 to 1 pound, and has the same specs and a larger screen which some people may like for watching movies. Do you pay $100 more for that? Do you save $100 and get this? I'm Scott Stein and that is a look at the new iPad Mini with Retina display, available, once again, in black or space gray, we should call it, or white silver.