iPad Mini Review: Is Apple's 7.9 inch tablet worth it?

The iPad mini has been rumored for nearly as long as the original iPad has existed, but it wasn't clear early on how many of those rumors were based on fact and how many were based on hope. The 7.9-inch, $329 iPad mini sports a screen with the same resolution as the iPad 2, but only smaller. This is not just a smaller, cheaper iPad, this is a thinner, lighter device that deserves independent consideration.

While the second, third and fourth generations of iPads have all been more or less indistinguishable, the iPad mini's anodized aluminum back looks entirely different. This a more comfortable slate to carry around. The WiFi-only iPad mini weighs just 0.68 pounds (308 grams), which is less than half the weight of the fourth-generation iPad. It's far thinner, too, at 7.2mm (vs. 9.4) and measures 7.87 x 5.3 inches (200 x 135mm) on the other dimensions.

Talking about the camera, there's a 5-megapixel iSight camera stuffed at the back, paired with a 1.2-megapixel FaceTime HD center-cut in the bezel atop the LCD.

The brightness and color reproduction seem to be improved over the iPad 2, comparable to the latest Retina displays. Colors are very pleasing to the eye and viewing angles do not disappoint.

The iPad mini is running a dual-core 1GHz CPU with 512MB of RAM, same as in the iPad 2 and as such it throws down the same benchmark scores and overall performance figures.

This isn't just an Apple tablet made to a budget or just a shrunken-down iPad. This is, in many ways, Apple's best tablet yet, an incredibly thin, remarkably light, obviously well-constructed device that offers phenomenal battery life. At $329, this 7.9 inch tablet has a lot to offer, in some way even more than it's bigger siblings.