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Apple’s Rumored Mini iPad: Is It Necessary?

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Jul 05, 2012 | 7:29am EDT

ALTDoes the phrase ‘tablet computer’ even mean anything anymore? With phone sizes growing and computer sizes shrinking, we’re on the wired path to an equilibrium in which both tech toys are indistinguishable from one another—and that may come sooner than you think.

Tech poohbah Apple is reportedly prepping component manufacturers in Asia to mass produce a tablet computer with a smaller screen than that of the iPad, with production starting as early as September, according to the Wall Street Journal. Although the rumored "iPad Mini" has been just that—a rumor—for some time now, WSJ’s report cites quasi-confirmation from people familiar with the situation, including higher-ups at the component supplier companies, who say that the new tablet’s screen could be smaller than eight inches. 

That means we’re talking about something halfway between a Kindle and an iPad… but is that any more or less useful than what’s already out there?

Let me throw some stats at you: that lovely little iPhone squeezed into the front pocket of your skinny jeans is 3.5 inches. The iPad’s screen is 9.7 inches, a measurement which hasn’t changed since the doodad was first launched way back in the ancient tech age of 2010. Motorola and Samsung’s tablet options skew slightly smaller at 8.2 and 8.9 inches. Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire clock in at seven—a slab size easily handled by one hand, as anyone who’s Kindled at the beach can tell you. Toshiba hits the high end of the spectrum with a 13-inch screen, which is essentially of laptop scope. 

A smaller iPad may mean better things for Apple’s standings in the tablet market, etc., but for the average user, what’s the point? The iPad bridged the gap between phone and laptop (with the benefits of neither), but is anybody really clamoring for something to fill the void between iPhone and iPad?

Sure, Apple-philes will still eat it up, and celebs will inevitably add the new miniature to their head-wear, but until Apple releases a product that actually thrills instead of bores, chalk this one up to being pure market filler and yet another delay on society's road to achieving its true tech calling: becoming Minority Report.

Follow Marc on Twitter: @MarcSnetiker

[Photo Credit: WENN.com]

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