So I, like many nerds, ordered an iPad mini as soon as possible, in my case within ten minutes of orders being taken, I have been using it constantly since to gain a good impression of the device and my thoughts on it.Hardware
The iPad mini takes the winning formula of the iPad and compacts it into a device that is just as beautiful while being smaller and lighter. The weight difference makes a huge change when trying to read a book or even the web in bed or on the couch.
As with all iOS devices, the screen *makes* the device. While the iPad mini is a step back from the Retina devices Apple users have become accustomed to, the screen's colours and viewing angles are just as superb as we are used to. With a resolution of 1024x768, this puts the iPad mini at a respectable but not fantastic 163 pixels per inch.
Considering the cost of the device, which starts at $329USD and rises to a maximum $659USD, a Retina display is not to be expected in the first iteration. To fit a Retina display into the iPad mini, Apple will need to be able to keep the price the same, while lowering the weight of the Retina display to keep within the current confines of the device. I think in the second iteration Apple will have nailed this, so if you want Retina, wait a year.
The iPad mini's bezel is a lot thinner, at the start this caused me issues, but as I've acclimatised to the device, coupled with the software in iOS6 that combats a resting thumb, it has become a non-issue to me.
The construction of the device is of the expected Apple quality, which is stellar, my White and Silver iPad mini feels great to handle with just enough heft to not feel like you are holding air.
The switch to metal buttons on the device is a great choice by Apple and I hope they roll this change out to the full-sized iPad. The buttons provide much better travel and feedback which helps when trying to quickly silence the iPad mini while in the dark.
The iPad mini brings a new feature to the whole iOS product line, stereo speakers, these surround the new Lightning connector and sound simply superb.Software
All iPad apps run on the iPad mini, yet some just don't feel right to use. the cause of this seems to be the combination of the resolution and screen size. The smaller tap targets are usable, they are around the size you expect on an iPhone, but do take time to adjust to.
Typing on the software keyboard is a simple to do in portrait mode, it feels like typing on a landscape iPhone , but while the mini is in landscape mode, it is a bit uncomfortable to type due to the size of the device.
With the advent of the iPad mini, I can see Apple having a winner in the form factor and size without the compromise of the device not being a real iPad.
I feel it will be more likely that I will take this device with me everywhere due to it's form factor over a full sized iPad, the size makes the mini feel like a notebook and less like a textbook for me. I'll be keeping the full-sized iPad for at home and work.