Last year Apple introduced the iPad mini, a second size option for its tablet lineup. In addition to being, well, miniature, it featured a beautiful design — so beautiful, in fact, that the iPad Air now mimics it. More importantly, with a starting price of $329, consumers at last got an iPad at a more mid-range price point. As you can imagine, it appealed to folks who couldn’t afford the full-sized model, and it was also intriguing for people who craved something a little more portable. By the same token, it was also panned by power users who thought the mini should have the same high-end specs and Retina display as the 10-inch model. In short, Apple had two iPads that were capable of attracting two different groups of people.
This year Apple stirred the pot. The new iPad mini not only features nicer hardware than its predecessor; it’s also equipped with the same specs as its larger sibling, the iPad Air. For starters, the 2013 mini adds a Retina display, along with Apple’s top-of-the-line A7 processor and a larger battery. But, it also comes at a higher cost. We know, we know: It’s a premium tablet, but is $399 too much to pay for a brand-new 8-inch slate? Is there anything else in the mid-sized tablet market that would work at a lower price? And since the two iPads are no very similar, are there any factors to consider outside of size?