iPad mini. All this talk of resolutions – I say phfft.

Posted: November 23, 2012 in Apple, hardware, iPad, technology
Tags: , , , , ,

Bought myself an iPad mini, and sitting side by side with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1″ I already had (see post a few weeks back here), honestly it looked clearer and crisper. Probably because it is.  Funny thing people didn’t jump all over Samsung when it came out.

What i’m alluding to above is the big disappointment about the latest iPad from Apple and its screen resolution.  It seems in a world where we can have “retina displays”, that anything less than that is simply not acceptable.  I beg to differ.

Resolution is a measurement of how many pixels are on a screen, pixels per inch or pixel density.  Typically we talk about computer screens in this respect, not so much with TV’s even though the difference between most tv’s and most monitors these days is the inclusion of a “tuner”.  Which for most of us, is a feature that we never actually use since the advent of cable boxes and satellite receivers, etc.  Even the term “tuner” harkens back to the days of television dials you had to tune in to make clear.  Yeah kids, we’re talking old school here.  Before remotes, and before cable even.  And yeah, I remember getting up off the couch to change the channel or tune it in better, and not just because the batteries in the remote died.  There weren’t any remotes, but i digress, again.

So what’s all the fuss?  Well lets look at a comparison of another device that was cutting edge not so long ago. The 2011 13″ MacBook Air model I use all day long doesn’t seem to suffer from a lack of resolution running at 1440 by 900 on-screen size at 13.3-inches diagonal.   The PPI calculation is simply the Pythagorean formula with an extra length division.  Easy enough with a scientific calculator, make sure you use the exact dimension of the screen:

square root( 1440^2 + 900^2 ) / 13.3 = 129.627222 ~ 130

So when compared with the “terrible” resolution of the iPad mini (1024×768) being only 163 ppi it seems my MBA at 130 ppi is much worse.  Hmmm, let me take another sip of this brainwashing fluid.  Ah yes, you are right, how could I subject myself to such poor resolution!

Resolution, like many things about computers or electronic devices is subjective.  Some will argue it is not good enough, when really what they mean is it’s not good enough for what they want to do with it, or possibly it’s not good enough because better technology is out there and it COULD have been better.  It all comes down to a few simple things:

1.  The almighty dollar.

2. Availability of components.

3. Demand

In my opinion Apple did a good job at producing reasonably priced device to fill a void in their product line so as to not lose market control.  Not only that its got built-in update potential simply by adding a retina display for the next generation, take a look at what you are getting for the money and you’ll see its has great components, the same basically as the full-sized iPad, but in a much smaller form factor.  So what if the screen is not as crisp as a retina display, it didn’t seem to bother my kids at all when asked about it, and sure as heck didn’t stop them from borrowing it for hours at a time.

From a personal use standpoint, my issue with it wasn’t the clarity of the screen, but the actual physical size.  I bought the iPad as a tool for work as well as a toy for home use.  I struggled with the mini’s keyboard a bit at first, but mostly due to my long thumbs – splitting the keyboard was too narrow, but yet the merged keyboard felt a tad too wide.  Strangely my kids seemed to be fine.  Also, I want to be able to review large size drawings (24″x36″ and up) of buildings while on site, and the small screen meant I was zooming in and out too much for my liking.  That’s not a fault of the design of the mini, just the way I want to use it.

I had concerns about the weight of the full-sized iPad but as @Phronk so helpfully pointed out… “it’s still only 1.4 lbs… its heaviness is a total firstworldproblem.”  In the end, size mattered more than anything, and I’m sporting a 9.7″ iPad 4th gen now.

As its been said, the best tablet is the one that gets carried around and used all the time. It’s all well and good to go on about specs and features, but in the end, its portability and usability that reign supreme. On those two notes, the iPad mini stands tall.

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