The iPad mini is an odd beast. Technically, it’s completely unremarkable. No retina display, last gen processor and RAM.
And yet, I’m going to dump my iPad 3rd gen and go whole hog with this one. Why? Because it’s half as heavy as the iPad biggy, and it can be held for long periods of time in bed like a paperback book or carried around without requiring a death grip. In fact, it’s more often than not able to fit into a jacket pocket or a purse. The screen size is just usable at the smaller screen size without being too annoying. Text is occasionally annoying to read in portrait mode, but if you switch to landscape mode you have a full 1024×768 screen, which basically all sites are designed for. So not perfect like a retina display, but quite livable.
When the retina iPad mini comes out, it will be fantastic. But in the meantime, choosing between the mini and the biggy means some real tradeoffs. I think the mini satisfies my “carry” anywhere tablet criteria better than the biggy, so I’m going with that. Plus I’ll be fully Lightning connector transitioned that way.
I also had a second chance to play with the Surface. The more I use it, the more I dislike it. In portrait mode, it’s too tall and thus holding the tablet and using the virtual keyboard makes it feel like it wants to tip out of your hand. In landscape mode, the home button on the center bottom of the tablet is unreachable with your thumbs. It’s just a bad design and seems like it was intended to be used on a tablet with the kickstand … which is the only way having the home button here makes sense.