“It’s amazing to think that, just a year ago, the iPad Mini was positioned as a smaller ‘budget’ iPad without as much power as the 9.7-inch version,” Scott Stein writes for CNET. “Now it’s a powerhouse and a top-end tablet. I said, a year ago, I didn’t know who the iPad Mini was for. But over the last year, the Mini ended up cementing itself as my personal iPad of choice. I accepted its limitations in exchange for its form.”

“Now, there are no limitations,” Stein writes. “The new iPad Mini has a 2,048×1,526-pixel Retina Display that’s exactly the same resolution as the larger iPad, and a far faster 64-bit A7 CPU that parallels what’s in the iPhone 5S and iPad Air, plus that M7 co-processor. In fact, you could easily call the iPad Mini with Retina Display a shrunken-down clone of the new iPad Air: it has exactly the same specs as its larger sibling.”

“That raises the question: with two iPads so similar, which do you choose? Do you want to pay $400 for a midsize tablet — or $500 for its big brother? The new Mini is less expensive, but the Air has the larger screen,” Stein writes. “This isn’t a budget tablet, but it’s clearly not meant to be. It’s a packed-to-the-gills little tablet beast… Only the iPad [models] will deliver iOS, along with the relative advantages and refinements of that app ecosystem — a double advantage for anyone who’s already an iPhone or Mac user… But, if you want a small tablet with no limitations, that can run the best gamut of high-end apps, display productivity-type applications in a larger amount of screen space, and play games amazingly, the iPad Mini with Retina Display is hands-down the way to go.”

“As Apple heads into 2014, there are a lot of future directions I can imagine it heading. The larger iPad, perhaps, could co-evolve with the MacBook Air into the next-step future of computing,” Stein writes. “The Mini, though, is fine where it is. Other than price and inevitable spec bumps (and, maybe, Touch ID), I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Read more in the full review here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Bill” for the heads up.]

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