Apple did more than just unveil two new iPads at their October announcement. They created an entire lineup of iPads, which now numbers four distinct devices: The iPad Air, the iPad Mini 2, the iPad Mini and the iPad 2. Yes, the iPad 2 is still in the lineup despite initially being released in Spring of 2011. But the real question is: which iPad is the best buy?
For those who already own an iPad, the choice becomes whether to upgrade to the iPad Air or upgrade to the iPad Mini 2. But for those who don't own an iPad, the choice can be confusing, so we'll take a look at each iPad in the lineup and find out which one might be the best for specific needs.
The "Don't Do It Award" goes to: The iPad 2. Apple may be keeping it around for whatever reason, but that doesn't make it a good buy. The iPad 2 might make sense if you were buying a used one for under $200, but not for the $399 Apple is charging. At $100 cheaper, the original iPad Mini is just as powerful and includes features like dual-facing cameras and 4G LTE compatibility. Read the iPad Air Review.
The "Best Value Award" goes to: The iPad Mini 2. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the iPad announcement was the iPad Mini 2 getting the same 64-bit A7 system-on-a-chip as the iPad Air. This makes the second generation iPad Mini just as powerful as the latest and greatest full-sized iPad. Don't let the smaller screen (7.9 inches measured diagonally verses 9.7 inches) fool you: this is a very grown up iPad with all of the bells and whistles. Read the iPad Mini 2 Review.
The "Get the Most Out of It Award" goes to: The iPad Air. The iPad Mini 2 may be a match in processing power and features, but sometimes, size does matter. The larger screen means less zooming in to read smaller text, less double and triple tapping while aiming for a button on the screen and easier typing on the on-screen keyboard. If you are going to be doing as much content creation (i.e. work!) as content consumption, the iPad Air wins the nod.
The "Best Entry-Level Device Award" goes to: The original iPad Mini. If you are thinking of reaching for that iPad 2, save yourself $100 and get this iPad instead. The original Mini still has a lot of miles left in her, moreso than the iPad 2 thanks to those dual-facing cameras and better data connectivity. It may not be as fast as the newest releases, but it is the best value wanting a tablet priced closer to the Kindle.