Goldilocks would be in her glory – at least as far as mobile computing is concerned.
The arrival of the iPad Mini means tablet devices are now available that run the gamut from micro- to mega-sized.
There still seems to be some debate about what functionality to include in which sized devices.
I've seen mid-sized tablets with normal telephone functionality, I've seen smallish tablets only slightly larger than a regular smartphone that only sported Wi-Fi connectivity.
While traveling recently, I found that a full-sized iPad can be inconvenient to use in situations where space is at a premium. I saw that a smaller device could retain the practical aspects of a tablet and allow me to not irritate fellow air passengers while retrieving the device, for example, or to drop it in a pocket while walking around.
The release of the iPad Mini seems to show that Apple recognizes those virtues as well.
Another point in the favor of smaller tablets – the smaller size can come with a reduced price tag, at least in some cases.
For the Apple Mini, the entry price is a relatively steep $329. But the least expensive iPad Mini does fit neatly into Apple's current pricing structure, with the absolute top-of-the-line model clocking in at $659, somewhat above where the full-sized iPad falls.
Despite the Mini's smaller screen real-estate – 7.9 inches diagonal compared to its larger sibling's 9.7-inch display – the performance hasn't been substantially reduced – so come November when the iPad Mini goes on sale, early adopters can trade a small chunk of screen real estate for some savings.
There has always been a wide range of Android-powered tablets, ranging in price from $200 to $800, but it doesn't seem like there will be standardized sizes for them anytime soon.
This poses something of a problem for application developers – it's hard to make an app look good on both a 4-inch and a 9-inch screen – and in some cases, they may not work properly, even while running on hardware that is substantially similar. Apple at least requires submission of separate apps optimized for any device they are to be published on.
The iPad Mini will be available for preorder on Friday, and will begin shipping Nov. 2.
Nick DeLorenzo is director of interactive and new media for The Times Leader. Email him at [email protected].