When the iPad first appeared in 2010, it was derisively mocked by critics for being "just a big iPod touch."
After selling 100 million of them, Apple has now released the iPad mini as something closer to being a "big iPod touch," sharing much in common with the new design of the fifth generation iPod touch, although retaining the "big app" functionality of its full size iPad siblings.
Overall, it seems to fit perfectly in-between the full sized iPad and the iPhone. Unlike "tweener" tablets, it doesn't sacrifice screen area or resolution to do this, nor does it invent a new screen resolution; it's like a scaled down iPad 2.
Because its smaller with the same resolution, some text is small, particularly icon labels and the clock bar at the top of the screen. This isn't a scaled up iPod touch; if you're looking for a big screen iPhone, the iPad mini doesn't deliver that. It's a smaller iPad.
The new iPad mini is 7.2mm thick, the same as the new iPod touch and thinner than the iPhone 4/4S/5 (and significantly thinner than any other iPad).
It ships with a smaller, iPhone-style USB power adapter (the 10-12 watt iPad version charges faster) and a USB-Lightning cable. The Smart Cover is sold separately in a variety of colors.
Critics are comparing the price of the iPad mini to cheaper tablets sold as loss leaders in big to gain market share. Apple clearly didn't design the iPad mini just to reach downward in price. It doesn't feel cheaper than existing iPads; it feels like a more comfortable easily portable size and weight.
It's also significantly thinner. It has the new squared corners and chamfered edge of the iPod touch (and iPhone 5). It shares the Smart Cover design of the larger iPads, but jettisons the former metal hinge for a rubbery joining edge that attaches like a suction cup.
With the Smart Cover on and closed, it looks almost exactly the same size as Amazon's Kindle Fire HD (although it's substantially thinner). Flip the lid open though, and there's a lot more screen, albeit fewer pixels.
Stay tuned for our in depth review of Apple's new iPad mini. Ask any questions about the new product in the comments below and we'll try to address them in the full review.