Apple Inc's entry in the accelerating mobile tablet race squeezes about 35% more viewing space onto a lighter package than rival devices from Google or Amazon.com Inc, but it sports inferior resolution and a lofty price tag, two influential reviewers wrote on Tuesday.
The iPad mini, which starts at $329 versus the $199 for Google's Nexus 7 and Amazon's Kindle Fire HD, is easy to hold with one hand, eliminating a drawback of the 10-inch iPad, Wall Street Journal columnist Walt Mossberg wrote in one of the first major reviews of a gadget introduced last week.
Both Mossberg and New York Times columnist David Pogue offered kudos for cramming most of its full-sized cousin's functions onto a smaller device, as advertised.
But the iPad mini's 1024 x 768 resolution was a big step backwards from the iPad's much-touted Retina display, and underperformed the rival Kindle and Nexus, the two reviewers agreed.
Mossberg said Apple chose to go with a lower-quality display because the existing 250,000-plus iPad applications could only run unmodified in two resolutions - and the higher level would have sapped too much power.
"The lack of true HD gives the Nexus and Fire HD an advantage for video fans. In my tests, video looked just fine, but not as good as on the regular iPad," he wrote.
Apple hopes the smaller tablet can beat back incursions onto its home turf of consumer electronics.
"In shrinking the iconic iPad, Apple has pulled off an impressive feat," Mossberg wrote. "It has managed to create a tablet that's notably thinner and lighter than the leading small competitors with 7-inch screens, while squeezing in a significantly roomier 7.9-inch display.