iPad Air or iPad mini with Retina Display? Good Reasons for Either

10/23/2013

I’ve owned iPads since the first model was released. Back in April, 2010, I wrote about the first iPad, saying, “The device itself is very attractive, easy to hold, but it’s heavy. I can’t see using this while standing in the subway, or even using it for a long time without being able to rest it on something.”

What I didn’t write then, but thought, was that it wouldn’t be long before the first iPad would seem clunky. Seeing the current iPad models, and especially the new iPad Air, it’s clear that the iPad has made big leaps in just three and a half years.

So, with the new models on the horizon, which to choose? Just under a year ago, I wrote, I Have Seen the Future of the iPad and It Is Mini. When I took my iPad mini out of its box, I was immediately sold. I said, “in the future, we’ll look back on the early full-sized iPads with a smirk, the way we look back at the first portable computers.”

ipad-air-compare-hero-2013.png       ipad-mini-retina-compare-hero-2013.png

But, now, with the iPad Air weighing as little as it does – 469 g, or 1.03 lbs – it’s tempting to consider getting a larger screen. Most of my iPad use is reading: books and magazines. It would be nice to read the New Yorker on a larger screen, as you can’t change the font size, and web pages will be easier to read as well.

Interestingly, the iPad Air and iPad mini have the same number of pixels. This means two things: first, the iPad mini will be crisper than the iPad Air, with 326 ppi compared to 264 ppi for the iPad Air. But it also means that the iPad mini is simply a smaller screen, where everything will be scaled down from what the iPad Air displays. Those fonts in the New Yorker magazine app; they’ll be the same number of pixels, but will look smaller on the iPad mini.

As much as I like the smaller size of the mini, the lighter weight of the iPad Air may sway me. I’m looking forward to holding both of them in my hands to see if the difference in size or weight is an issue. It is for the current iPads I own: my iPad 3 is much heavier than the iPad mini (which gains 23 g on the previous model). But with the new models, the iPad Air will only be 138 g heavier than the iPad mini. That might not be so much.