Rumors as to the low availability of the Apple iPad mini with Retina Display (Apple iPad mini 2) have been greatly exaggerated, but there are other tablets on the market, like the Google Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire HDX, that are actually better buys. Is the Apple iPad mini 2 really worth its price of $399 for a bare-bones model?
Manufacturing difficulties had been thought to have reduced the availability of the iPad mini 2s, but they can be found, and there could even be an iPad maxi in the wings that will be released in 2014.
An unspecified number of the iPad mini 2s suffer from burn-in issues on their retina screens. This issue makes them substandard and impossible to sell, and has led to the rumors that the 7.9 inch tablet would be difficult to find this holiday season.
Another aspect about the release of the Apple iPad mini 2s that had consumers nervous is that other Apple products, such as the iPad Air, had clearly stated release dates, or they became available the very day that they were announced. The iPad mini 2, on the other hand, did not have a specific date set by Apple for its release.
Despite this, the Apple iPad mini 2 is available “widely at stores across the U.S.” according to CNET.
CNET checked the availability of the Apple iPad mini 2s in stores in L.A., Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia. At least before Black Friday, they all had the devices. The Apple iPad mini 2 is still available online, as well, from the Apple Store. Apple is not offering any discounts or gift card deals to consumers who purchase the devices.
A report from the Korea Times states that Apple wants to compete with LG and Samsung by introducing a 12.9 inch iPad in 2014. An unnamed official stated that a “local first-tier display supplier” for Apple “is now producing a 12.9-inch Retina Display to be used in the new iPad.” The new iPad maxi, according to the official, “will be coming out sometime next year.”
One rumor about the iPad maxi 12.9 inch tablet which may or may not be true is that it will feature 4K video, which is an “almost ultra-high-definition (UHD) quality.” This rumor, and the fact that Apple has been rumored in the past to be releasing a larger iPad and they haven’t done so yet, has led many people to doubt the report in the Korea Times that Apple will introduce a 12.9 inch tablet in 2014.
However, according to Digitimes.com, Quanta Computer has taken orders to mass-produce Apple’s 12.9 inch tablet sometime during the second half of next year. Quanta Computers has neither verified nor denied this rumor.
Apple does not expect order volume to be very high for the larger-sized iPad, and the target consumers for it would be primarily in the enterprise and education markets.
As far as the Apple iPad mini with Retina Display goes, some consumers will likely be put off from buying one because of its high cost. The 4:3 better-than-HD screen is amazing, and it’s backed by superior apps; but, Apple might have priced it too high, out of the reach of the very consumers it’s trying to target.
The body of the Apple iPad mini 2 is a unibody, made of aluminum. It has metal buttons and chiseled edges, and the design of it looks worlds better than any of its competitors.Battery life is excellent, and the sped of it is incomparable — tap a button and what you want happens instantly.The high-res 2048×1536 screen is very impressive, as well — it’s the $399 price for the bare-bones model that is a potential drawback, especially as you get just 16GB of storage. For just $299, you can purchase a 16 GB/WiFi version of the Google Nexus 7, or for $244, you can buy a 7-inch Amazon Kindle Fire HDX (with ads removed).
For that same $399 that an Apple iPad mini with Retina Display costs, you could purchase a 32 GB Nexus 7 with LTE connectivity and have $50 left over to buy games, content, and apps.
Also, an irritant is that the Apple iPad mini with Retina Display does not include the Touch ID fingerprint reader. This means to sign-in and to have purchases approved, you must type in your PIN and full iTunes password.
The placement of the speakers on it makes it sound as if the sound comes from just one side of the devices. By contrast, Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX (and the Nexus 7) has speakers that are placed much better, providing better sound, especially for movies.
Also, the Smart Covers and Smart Cases Apple uses have a tendency to leave marks on the iPad screen — linear streaks that are very annoying, especially as the devices cost so much compared with other, similar, devices. If you’re looking at getting value for your dollar, mini-tablets like the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX and the Nexus 7 are much better values than the Apple iPad mini with Retina Display.
Written by: Douglas Cobb