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Apple iPad mini Tablet Review

It certainly looks cool, but the iPad mini falls flat in performance.

November 02, 2012
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Screen

The Apple iPad mini has a relatively low resolution for a 6.3125 x 4.75 inch screen, coming in at 1024 x 768 pixels. While it does have a decently high peak brightness for a smaller tablet, it does not have the same pixel density or black & white performance of other tablets in its class.

Front Image

Indoor & Outdoor Use

Due to a very high reflectivity, the Apple iPad mini will annoy you with the reflection pattern and suffer many of the ills that come with bright sunlight. Because LCD screens rely on a backlight to make their picture shown, if that light is overpowered by the ambient lighting conditions, your picture will look washed out or extremely hard to see. This is not a tablet for the beach.

indoor-outdoor.jpg

NOTE: The images above are shot with a variety of lighting sources, which may cause some color shift.

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Legibility

While the pixel density is fairly low in comparison to other tablets, text remains fairly crisp on the screen, though those of you with better vision will absolutely notice hallmark issues of low resolution like minor stair-stepping if you hold the tablet closer than 3 feet from your eyeballs.

legibility.jpg

Reflectance

When you take the Apple iPad mini out into the world, one of the most annoying things you’ll notice right off the bat is just how reflective the screen of the iPad mini is. Not only is the reflection pattern very sharp and distracting, but the coating on the screen does very little to diffuse outside light at all. In fact, it will send about 18.3% of all light shone on the screen back at your eyes, making the image hard to see in direct sunlight.

Screen Size & DPI

The Apple iPad mini has a screen size of 6.3125 × 4.75 inches, and with a resolution of 1024 × 768, the mini has a pixel density of 162. Now, the full-sized iPad may have a retina display, but the Apple iPad mini’s screen is not this good. For those of you with better vision, you’ll be able to see the pixels even at a natural position holding the tablet, and all HD content will have to be rescaled for your tablet.

Blacks and Whites

The Apple iPad mini has a somewhat high black level of 0.53cd/m2, though its respectable peak brightness of 405.33cd/m2 goes a long way in bailing out the contrast ratio, which sits at 765:1. There is a somewhat minor, but weird problem with the greyscale gamma, as the transition from black to white along the intensity scale is a bit off from what it should be. Thankfully, the error is more academic than anything, and not really a noticeably glaring issue.

Blacks and Whites Chart

Color Gamut

What is noticeably bad is the color gamut, as not only are blues, reds, and greens wildly undersaturated, but the blues are shifted bizarrely like tablets of a bygone era. This was quite common in tablets of 2011, but not so much with the stable of iPads Apple released this year.

Color Gamut Chart

Battery Life

After draining the life force (aka stored charge) out of the iPad mini’s battery repeatedly, we’ve determined its life with a full backlight and no wireless to be 6 hours and 3 minutes reading eBooks, and 7 hours, 20 minutes playing movies with terrible acting. Given that the screen is quite bright, you might be able to squeak out more or less battery life depending how you change the settings.

Battery Life Chart

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Sections

  1. Introduction
  2. Product Tour
  3. Screen
  4. Battery & Controls
  5. eReader
  6. Music & Audio
  7. Movies & Video
  8. Email & Web Browsing
  9. Internet Apps
  10. Conclusion
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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