iLounge’s iPad mini, iPad (4th-Gen) reviews note surprises, flaws

iLounge has published comprehensive reviews of the new iPad mini (iLounge Rating: A-) and fourth-generation iPad (iLounge Rating: B+), including a number of details that are particularly worthy of your attention. Some of the findings include:

While short of Retina detail levels, the iPad mini’s screen performance offers considerably better color rendition, dark blacks, and viewing angles than the pre-Retina screens on iPhones and iPod touches. The front camera performs more or less identically to the latest full-sized iPad—and better than prior models—but the rear camera has a smaller lens than the third- and fourth-generation iPads, slightly reducing its light-gathering ability. Processor performance is actually in line with the third-generation iPad.

The iPad mini fell short of Apple’s 10-hour Wi-Fi browsing claims in our testing, somewhat exceeded the company’s estimate for video, and offered comparable run times to the full-sized iPad for gaming. Apple ships the iPad mini with a 5W USB charger that takes longer to refuel the device than necessary; it is actually capable of recharging faster than any prior iPad, when used with a 10W or 12W charger.

By comparison, Apple’s new fourth-generation iPad showed strong processor improvements in benchmarking that are only modestly visible at this point in actual software; the most noteworthy speed improvement we saw was in photo transferring, which was three times faster on this iPad than its predecessor when using either new or old, adapter-aided accessories. The shift to a Lightning connector does not at this point offer any benefit to users, and accessories cost more, suggesting that the discontinued prior version may be a better value for those seeking a full-sized iPad in the immediate future. One of our review units arrived with a full line of dead pixels, and the other had a sticky material on the back by its camera, suggesting that quality control is suffering relative to the impressive third-generation model. Both iPads exhibited stuttering issues when streaming certain AirPlay Mirrored content to the Apple TV.

The fourth-generation iPad fell slightly short of its predecessor in some battery tests, while coming out ahead in others. Web browsing and game playing both took small hits relative to the third-generation model, while video playback and recording both jumped. Apple’s new 12W USB Power Adapter is included with the new iPad, and does in fact enable it to recharge somewhat faster than the 10W version, bringing the time closer to 5 hours. We strongly suspect that Apple will bring the iPad mini’s design philosophy over to the next full-sized iPad, and has used this minor update to create a Lightning-equipped model that will drop in price like the iPad 2 when a fully redesigned sequel is released next year.

Our full reviews of the iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad have plenty of additional detail.

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