Ergonomics

We’ve always thought the iPad was on the heavier side for prolonged use, particularly for one handed use. This was something more true for the 1st/3rd/4th gen iPads than for the comparatively svelte iPad 2, but at 1.33-1.5lbs, they were all too heavy for truly ultramobile use . The mini changes that in a big way, introducing a chassis that has 60% of the footprint and 47% of the weight of the latest 4th gen iPad in a 25% thinner frame, but even versus the iPad 2, the mini is a featherweight. It’s thinner than both the 4th generation iPod touch and iPhone 5, though not as ridiculous as the 6.1mm frame of the latest iPod touch. At 7.2mm thick and 0.68lbs, the mini has the size and weight part absolutely nailed.


From top to bottom: iPod Touch (5th gen), iPad mini, iPad 2, iPad 4

Part of this is due to the smaller screen, but the bezel around the display has also been whittled down significantly, particularly on the sides, so it’s actually possible to grip in portrait mode with one hand if you don’t have particularly small hands. I wouldn’t necessarily call it comfortable to do, certainly not as natural as on a 7” 16:10 widescreen Android tablet. It’s definitely possible, but about 10mm too wide to do it properly.

The best way that I found, actually, was to hold it like a paperback book - pinky underneath for vertical support, thumb on the side for horizontal support, and the rest of the hand spread across the back. The mini is actually light enough that this is a perfectly natural way to do it no matter which hand you prefer holding the tablet in.

It’s just an absolute joy to carry, the weight and thickness really make a big difference in the ergonomics as well as the portability. The footprint, too, has opened up some more mobile use-cases. You can easily use the iPad mini when walking around, something I found exceedingly difficult to do with the 9.7” iPad or any other 9-10” tablet without looking out of place and feeling like I was going to drop it every time I tried to walk at a normal, semi-rushed urban pace. The mini fits more readily in car gloveboxes and center console bins too, and it generally is a much more handy device.


iPad mini (left) vs Nexus 7 (right)

It’s about a centimeter too wide to fit into the back pockets of my jeans and about 5mm too much for the inside pocket of my jacket, but with baggier clothes it's a non-issue. The N7 does fit into my jeans, though not comfortably (is there any situation in which a pocketed tablet does?). The mini will fit really easily in most purses, and fits in most suit jacket inner pockets, so it’s about as portable as you can get. I already have CES plans that involve stashing a mini in my suit and relying on that and my phone for web publishing from the show floor.

If you’re familiar with 7” Android tablets or, my previous favorite portable tablet form factor, the 7.7” devices from Samsung and Toshiba, this really isn’t news. The smaller tablets, particularly the Nexus 7 and the Galaxy Tab 7.7/7.0+, have excelled at bringing a content consumption experience that is as good or better their larger 10.1” counterparts in a cheaper, more portable package. This is new to iOS though. Previously, there was a pretty gaping hole between the pocket-friendly iPod touch/iPhone and the notepad-sized iPad, and I think the mini does a great job of filling that hole. It’s smaller than the iPad by enough to make it worth considering for the size alone, but not enough to take away from the user experience, and that makes it all the more tempting.

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  • daar - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - link

    Who manufactures the display? I recall in reviews of old this was mentioned, would be nice to see in future reviews of anything with displays this info, thanks. Reply
  • zepi - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    Since the current-gen ipad-retina-displays are pretty abysmal in terms of power usage (see displaymate's measurements for example), would it be unreasonable to expect LTPS or IGZO panels to make things considerably better?

    Apple uses Low-Temperature polysilicon IPS in iphone for a reason and it's said that the forthcoming IGZO's would help in power consumption as well.

    I think that Ipad 4 is a "failure" as it doesn't address any of the shortcomings of the 3rd Gen ipad. Namely weight, thickness and reasonably poor visibility in direct sunlight. Though Apple just decided it's not worth the tradeoff to use A6 instead of A6x to reduce the battery weight by a tiny margin.
    Reply
  • doobydoo - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - link

    Firstly - the iPad 4 isn't a 'new iPad' as much as the iPad 3 was - it's an upgrade a partial way through the year, so it shouldn't be expected to address all 'the shortcomings'.

    Secondly - the iPad 4 doubles the GPU power which addresses the single biggest issue with the iPad 3 - the underpowered GPU. It's significantly faster than any other tablet (as is the iPad 3).

    Also it was important to get all the devices using the lightning connector.
    Reply
  • Alucard291 - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - link

    Yeah its the newer new ipad >.>

    Also known as the biggest ripoff apple has yet produced. Lightning connector (differently shaped usb 2.0), not-really-upgraded soc which brought nothing for the end user. Right? Because iOS is always super smooth? Or is it not?

    Wait wait wait and you're also saying that having even more unused gpu power is a shortcoming that was addressed? Well no point arguing with such logic.

    Especially since the cpu is already outdated. A9's (even with a custom memory controller) are so 2011.

    Man you are a MASTER of facepalms. You initiate a wave of them with every post of yours.
    Reply
  • NCM - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - link

    Alucard291 writes: "Lightning connector (differently shaped usb 2.0)"

    Bzzt! Wrong.

    Thanks for playing, come back when you've done your research properly.
    Reply
  • Jorange - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    Why did you zoom in on the Anandtech website on the Nexus 7, whilst the iPad mini is zoomed out, it makes the Nexus look like it can't display a full webpage which it can!! Subtle Anti-Android bias strikes again. Reply
  • ChronoReverse - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    I don't know about bias (I like to attribute ignorance over malice) but it seems particularly bad that not only is the N7 zoomed in compared to the Mini, but it's zoomed in so much that the N7's image is larger than the Mini's.

    I can see zooming so that they're physically the same size (but then the N7 would be using more pixels to render the same thing) but it's not even at that level.
    Reply
  • michal1980 - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    because Anand's bias is showing.

    Still waiting for this rumored 'Anandtech' windows 8 review. But OMG look a small ipad, the site owner himself reviews.

    Might as well start renaming the website 'appletech'
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    Our Win8 performance guide will be done this week. We're not doing a massive review (that would mostly be rehashing our significant DevPrev and ConPrev articles) will hit all the high points.

    And note that what Anand does has no bearing on Win8. AnandTech is more than one person, and in this case since I'm the OS guru it's my article.
    Reply
  • michal1980 - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    I'm just disapponted that a site I've trusted and visted for years, is changing focus.

    if its an apple thing, there are tons of in depth reviews done right away, product, os, accessories etc etc.

    windows is now becoming the abandoned step child.

    look at this, pages of writing, that could be summed up in 2 words:

    smaller ipad.
    Reply

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