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 4. The iPad 4 replaces the iPad 2 for those wanting an entry-level full-sized iPad.
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 "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 iPad 4. When the iPad 2 was in the lineup, I gave it the "Don't Do It Award". The dated iPad 2 just wasn't a good choice. But the iPad 4 is a big upgrade from the iPad 2. It has a much faster processor, a Retina Display and a better back-facing camera. If you really want a 9.7-inch iPad, but you don't want to spend $499, the iPad 4 is a good choice.
The "Most Affordable iPad Award" goes to: The original iPad Mini. The $300 price tag will be too good for some to pass up, and for good reason. It's a solid iPad. And if you can find one in Apple's refurbished store, you can get it as low as $250. The iPad Mini isn't going to compete with the iPad Mini 2 or iPad 4 in terms of raw power, but if you are on a budget, the iPad Mini is going to do everything you need it to do.