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Should You Upgrade to an iPad Mini?

Is Apple's 7-inch Tablet Worth the Upgrade?

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iPad Mini

Photo © Apple, Inc.

With the iPad Mini officially announced, we can now fairly judge Apple's 7-inch tablet against its bigger brother. While the iPad Mini will be compared with other 7-inch tablets like the Amazon Kindle Fire HD and Goggle Nexus 7, the iPad Mini actually sports a 7.9 inch display, which gives it around 1/3rd more display than the competition. It also has the same aspect ratio (4:3) as the iPad and the same screen resolution (1024x768) as the original iPad and the iPad 2, which means iPad apps will instantly be compatible with the iPad Mini.

But is this enough for you to upgrade to the iPad Mini?

If you own the original iPad...

The decision to upgrade will be easy for owners of the original iPad. The iPad Mini presents a nice boost in processing power, includes a front-facing and back-facing iSight camera capable of taking 5 MP photos and HD-quality video. It will also support iOS 6.0, including the ability to use Siri. The iPad Mini's 16 GB Wi-Fi model has a $329 price tag, and for those who need a data connection when mobile, the $459 price for the 16 GB 4G model is a steal considering it comes in $40 less than the (non-4G) entry level full-sized iPad. A breakdown of iPad Mini prices.

The cost goes down even more if you are planning to sell your original iPad. Even if you don't want to go through the hassle of listing it on Craigslist or eBay, you can use a trade-in program like the one offered by Amazon or Radio Shack and get up to $100 or more of credit.

If you own the iPad 2...

It is a little harder to justify upgrading to the iPad Mini if you already have the iPad 2. The iPad Mini has the same basic processing power and display capabilities of the iPad 2. It does come with iSight cameras, which will be an upgrade over the lower-quality front-facing and back-facing cameras found on the iPad 2. The one major perk that might tempt an iPad 2 owner is the inclusion of Siri, which can be a quite handy little assistant.

Other than Siri and voice dictation, one obvious bonus of the iPad Mini is its more compact size. If you constantly bring your iPad with you and find the current full-sized iPad to be a little bulky, the iPad Mini might offer greater mobility. And if you are trading in your iPad 2, the iPad Mini may only cost you around $100-$150.

If you own a non-Apple tablet...

If you own a non-Apple tablet and aren't happy with your choice, the iPad Mini is a great way to try out Apple's tablet. It will have many of the same features of the iPad 3, including Siri, but without the big price tag. The iPad Mini is $170 cheaper than the equivalent full-sized iPad. However, it does not come with the Retina Display and isn't quite as fast as its bigger brother.

Before you plan on buying an iPad Mini, it is important to figure out why you don't like your current tablet. If you find that you simply don't use it as much as you thought you might, you may end up feeling the same way about the iPad Mini. Tablet computers aren't for everyone. If, on the other hand, you simply can't do what you want with it because the apps aren't available or you find the working with the tablet frustrating and confusing, switching to an iPad may be worthwhile. Apple's App Store has over a half million apps, with nearly a quarter million built specifically for the iPad, so you may be more likely to find the app you need on an iPad.

If you own an iPad 3...

Last in line are those who own the latest iPad. The iPad Mini is smaller than the iPad 3, so it can offer more mobility, but it also lacks the Retina Display and is powered by the older A5 chipset rather than the A5X chipset. But the iPad Mini could be a good companion iPad, allowing family members to play games together and connect via FaceTime when one member of the family is out of town without taking quite as big of a bite out of the wallet as a full-sized iPad.

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