Tomorrow’s Apple event is shaping up to be a blockbuster. In addition to the smaller iPad we are promised new iMacs, a 13in retina MacBook Pro and a revised iPad with Lightning dock connector. The latter makes sense as Apple moves away, as soon as it decently can, from the cumbersome 30-pin plug. It’s best to migrate everthing and get any quibbling over and done with. The Lightning is simply a better connector.
Attention is focused on the smaller, 7.85in iPad. There has been talk of it being a slightly dumbed-down and cheaper alternative to the existing 9.7in model, the implication being that it is for people who cannot afford a proper tablet. A couple of weeks ago, The Guardian suggested there would be no 3G version to avoid too much cannibalisation of iPad Maxi sales.
Any such dumbing down would be a big mistake. The iPad Mini (or whatever it is called) must be its own tablet. Quite simply, there is an enormous latent demand for a smaller tablet, and a tablet without compromise.
I am looking forward to a smaller, lighter version of the iPad but one without cost-cutting subterfuges. One that will be good for productivity tasks and ideal for reading. I am sick of propping up the big iPad and tired of the strain on my hands when holding it up to read. The current iPad has its place in the affections of millions; many, I am sure, maintain there is no demand for a smaller device. But millions will buy a smaller device simply because it is more convenient.
Much will depend on just how much smaller and heftable the Mini turns out to be. It is hard to visualise the size, despite seeing many mockups. We know that just under two inches has been cut from the diagonal screen measurement. We are also told that the frame surround has been narrowed to reduce the overall size even further. But until I get one in my hands it will be difficult to decide whether or not it is what we have been looking for and needing for the past two years.
I am optimistic and, if the smaller iPad turns out to be as good as I expect, I shall be placing my order without delay. An iPhone, a small iPad and an 11in MacBook Air is beginning to look like the ideal travel collection.
by Mike Evans, 22 October 2012