Do I want an iPad Mini?

Even I'll admit that I don't "need" an iPad Mini -- or any other mobile device, given that I've already got an iPad 2 and a Google Nexus 7. But do I want one?

I'll need to see, hold and try one to be sure -- something I didn't feel compelled to do before buying my Nexus 7.

The Mini certainly has some compelling features. The form factor looks impressive: an extremely slender 0.28-inch-thick profile (my Nexus 7 is a heftier 0.4 inches thick) weighing less than 11 oz. (Nexus 7 comes in at 12). Otherwise the Mini isn't much larger than the Nexus 7: 7.9 x 5.3 in. versus 7.8 x 4.7 in.

And the Mini has a 5-megapixel rear camera as well as lower-rez front, which is nice to have, I suppose, although I can't say I use either my iPad or Nexus 7 for taking photos the way I do with my smartphone.

However, I was unpleasantly surprised at the Mini's relatively low screen resolution. I'm sure the same display type as is on my iPad 2 will look fine on an even smaller device. But I'm not sure I want to pay upwards of $325+ for Apple's last-generation display technology -- especially not when my Nexus 7's 1280 x 800 216 ppi is considerably higher rez than Mini's 1024 x 768 (163 ppi). Still, there's more to display quality than pixels, and I'd need to see the Mini and Nexus 7 head to head before dismissing a lower-spec Apple display.

I'd also need to see how fast the Mini runs in real-world use; it's hard to believe its dual-core A5 processor would outgun the Nexus 7's Quad-core Tegra 3.

If I were going to buy yet another tablet, adding the ability to turn on a cellular data plan for a month would be appealing. That's something I can't do with my Wi-Fi-only Nexus 7 (and could have bought but didn't for my full-sized iPad 2). But cellular-capable Minis start at $459 for 16G (and I suspect I'd want 32G, which would push the pricetag up to $559). That's a lot of money for tablet number three.

What if I didn't already have a small tablet?Yes, I'd be looking more seriously at a Mini. However, the Mini's $80 higher pricetag for a 16G Wi-Fi-only model isn't trivial. I look forward to seeing one in person to determine whether the Mini's larger screen, slimmer form factor and Apple engineering make it worth the extra cost. If you're in the market for a hold-in-one-hand tablet, that's something you might want to do as well.

Also see my chart comparing the iPad Mini, Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD and Computerworld coverage of the Apple announcement.

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