I have a confession. I bought an iPad mini.
After thinking it was the first new Apple gadget that I wouldn't want – no, need – to buy, I only lasted a week and a half without one.
I read and heard many people that said this is the iPad that always should have been, the perfect form factor, size, and weight, and let me tell you, they are all correct.
This is the first device that feels like the future as much as it is the future. A 7.9 inch display, yet it's thinner than the iPhone 5. It is as light as a small pad of paper. How can they do that?
It's perfectly built. The all black anodized aluminum looks amazing. The addition of aluminum buttons is just another way the iPad mini feels, and is, a premium device. The lightning connector is a pleasure, and it's great to finally have all my devices away from the 30-pin dock connector. I'm finally stocked up on cables and adapters, too.
Similar to the iPhone 5, you really have to hold it to appreciate its size and (lack of) weight. You can hold it in practically any position and your hand or arm will not get tired. That means reading, playing games, and web browsing is more comfortable. I could write all day, but seriously, just pick one up.
Yes, it isn't a Retina display, and isn't even as high resolution as a Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire HD. I was certain this would be the big sticking point for me – no Retina display, no buy. I thought so anyway. I used my third-generation iPad to watch movies in 1080p, and on a 9.7 inch screen held about a foot away from your face, that was just awesome.
While it is the weakest point of the iPad mini, it really doesn't matter that much. Normally I really notice those types of things, too. I refuse to use non-Retina optimized apps on my iPhone 5, because they just look awful. But it's not nearly as noticeable as you expect. Holding it at arm's length is where the sweet spot is. The first time I picked one up, I thought I was (or wasn't?) seeing things. I didn't notice any crazy pixelation that I expected. It's there for sure, and you do see it if you look for it. Some websites and text don't look good. Then again, just as many look terrible on a Retina display because they are not optimized properly.
It's not as shocking as a non-Retina optimized app or site on the iPhone or bigger iPad because when you're looking at it, you have nothing to compare it to. If you're hunting for pixels, you'll find them. If you are playing a game or streaming video or replying to an email, you probably won't notice those pixels.
Apple was extremely deliberate in making this device the exact same resolution as the still-selling-but-two-year-old iPad 2. That means all apps just work. No checking for compatibility or finding out your favorite app won't work. It just works. Classic Apple.
I have been a long-time believer that Apple makes amazing software to sell great hardware. That's the true genius of the company. They have no issues giving away an entire operating system for $19. Less than 5 years ago, that would cost $129. The software, the ecosystem, and the support are the things that feed the great devices.
You see the useful apps and fun games and know you want one. You touch the hardware and know you have to have one.
Apple did it again with the iPad mini.