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Your New Smaller Cockpit Companion

When I was growing up, people always said that good things come in small packages whenever I received a small gift for Christmas or a birthday. Well, when it comes to the newest iteration of the iPad, this may be true.

In comparison to its big brother, the iPad mini is a lot easier to handle, hold, and carry. Its 7.9-inch size is a great adjustment from the larger iPad. This one is small enough to put in a coat pocket, light enough to hold for long periods of time, and compact enough to hold with one hand.

For us flying in a cockpit that seems to get more cluttered and full as time goes on, this can be a great blessing. In a DA-20, there just isn’t room for a full 10.1-inch iPad. The mini is also about half the weight of the larger tablet and is actually thinner than the new iPhone 5. When I was giving the mini a test drive at the store, I was amazed at how small and light it was. I also found it very easy and natural to type on, much easier than the full-size tablet.

This much-smaller package does come at a price though. The internal hardware and resolution is the same as the iPad 2. It also only has a resolution of 1024 x 768. This is squeezed into a smaller display than the iPad 2, so it still looks better than its big brother. For those of you used to the third or fourth generation of the iPad, you might be able to see iPad the difference. The newest iPads have a resolution of 264 pixels per inch, while the iPad mini has a resolution of 163 pixels per inch. In all practicality, unless you are editing photos, this should be plenty adequate. The mini compares favorably with all the other 7-inch tablets out there. Internally, the mini has the same processor as the iPad 2, a dual-core chip as opposed to the quad core in mounting the newer full-size tablets. Unless you are running graphics-heavy games, this should not be an issue. Some features are the same between the newest full size and the mini. They have the same front and rear camera, one of the best found on a tablet. Even though the resolution is different, the size ratio is the same, meaning that all the apps you use should run with no adaption needed.

Now for the all-important price factor. The iPad mini starts at a price of $329 for the 16GB model all the way up to $659 for the 64GB with 4G. This compares to a price range of $499 up to $829 for the iPad 4.

My thoughts on whether to accessorizing upgrade or not: If you need the smaller-size factor, then certainly go for it. You will be buying one of the best 7-inch tablets on the market today. If you have the full-size iPad 1 or 2 and are looking for an upgrade, I would seriously consider making the switch to the mini. If you have the iPad 3 or 4, you may feel it would be a bit of a downgrade. If the lack of the high-res retina display is a factor for you, I would say wait a year. My bet is that Apple will have figured out how to fit the better processor and the higher-resolution display into the smaller package.