Sunday, November 4, 2012

Thoughts on the New iPad Mini (and it's Commercial)

I'd trade my current iPad 2 for an iPad mini.

That's how good and unique it is.

I will talk about why it's so good first and then I will dissect, what I think to be, the brilliant iPad mini commercial that Apple has released.

So, why is it worth trading an iPad 2 in for an iPad mini? I got to go to an Apple Store two days ago and try out all of the new products Apple has released (the new iPod Touch feels like you're holding nothing; just in general all of the new products are great). I finally got to try out the mini after 25 minutes of watching one person after another stealing a spot at the crowded table.

First of all, when you pick it up it's incredibly light. Not the, "Oh my God am I even holding anything" light but shockingly light nonetheless. It's noticeably lighter than the iPad 2 which is a big reason that I'd trade it in. I mostly read on my iPad and any reduction in weight is fantastic. It feels like I could hold it for hours. Furthermore, it's very thin, and as Apple puts it "pencil thin". This is also great because although my iPad isn't bulky even with a case, it can get a little tiresome to hold after a while because of it's size. The iPad mini seems to nail this perfectly because not only is it light enough to hold for extended periods of time, but it seems to be the perfect size: the screen is big enough so that text is clearly legible even at small font sizes and nothing is too small to be seen and the iPad itself is perfect for comfortably holding.

So far, I'm liking this iPad. I start browsing around on it, looking at the apps, practicing typing, watching videos and whatnot, and I realize, "this has nearly the same specs as the iPad 2 but it's even better than it" (go here for a full comparison). Although this iPad has the same A5 processer as the iPad 2 as well as the same screen resolution (which now looks slightly crisper due to its shrinkage), a couple things are better about the mini: the cameras have dramatically improved to ones slightly better than the one on my iPhone 4 (the video quality is 1080p from 720p on my iPhone 4 and the iSight camera has increased to a "HD" status; the ones on the iPad 2 are pretty bad) and there is Siri on the iPad mini as well. 

Since I liked the more compact nature of this iPad as well as the improved specs of it I thought to myself, "I would totally trade my current iPad in for this" which kind of surprised me; I always thought that a 7 inch tablet (well, in this case it's 7.9 inches which makes things surprisingly much better than regular 7 inch tablets) by Apple would provide a less than pleasant experience than the regular iPad probably because of the fact that all existing 7 inch tablets I'd come across were clunky, too constrained, and too cheap feeling. Obviously, Apple has triumphed the cheap feeling and clunky problem with their software and hardware but I was worried that a seven inch tablet would constrain iOS so much that the hardware or iOS itself wouldn't matter.

I was wrong.

That's not to say that I would choose this iPad over any other; if I had any choice, I'd choose the iPad with retina display because the screen is big and gorgeous and I, of course, do a lot of reading and video watching. But the iPad mini would be my second choice because of it's portability, lightness, and it's ability to retain all of the software and hardware elements that let it live up to the quality that Apple continuously shows.

Excellent job.

Now, for the iPad commercial. Watch it:

Why do I like it so much? Well, first of all it perks the interests of musicians as well as anybody who has heard Heart and Soul on the piano (and especially people who know it because it seems to be a song a lot of people know). Although I don't like this song anymore because it gets overplayed, them playing this song connects the audience to the commercial since it's a common song that everyone knows and gives them a sense of familiarity. Also, in the beginning it shows what's possible on the iPad if you didn't already know what you could do with it; you can play the freakin' piano on it people! If I didn't know about Garageband on the iPad, I would find this pretty cool. Then, we pan over to the iPad mini playing the primo part of this duet. This shows that the iPad mini is capable of what the regular iPad that everyone knows about does. It shows them that you don't have to sacrifice anything in order to buy an iPad mini; you can still do the extraordinary things you can do on an iPad on this smaller device. Another interesting side note is that this version of Heart and Sole is arranged slightly differently which makes it more pleasing to the ears of people (especially the musicians, and further, pianists who have heard this song a myriad of times). The notes in the later part of the commercial are slightly different and (I think) the primo part switches to playing octaves later but I digress. 

The point is that this casually, smoothly, and with a rather fun mood shows that the iPad mini does what the iPad does. Just because it's smaller, doesn't mean it sacrifices functionality like other seven inch tablets will do. Some people miss the point completely and say, "Oh great, it's showing me I can play the piano on my small iPad. Why would I want to do that?". That's not the point. The point is to show how it's the same iPad experience, but in a smaller and lighter package.

So, to sum it up: the iPad mini and it's commercial are well-built and fantastic. Awesome job, Apple.

- Aidan

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