Firstly, it’s a huge relief that Apple haven’t added yet another aspect ratio to their iOS lineup. Functionally this thing is basically a smaller iPad 2, so developers don’t have to optimize for a new display yet again. It makes a huge amount of sense given the number of apps already out there.
Ergonomically I doubt it’s as nice to hold as they tried to imply, unless you have gorilla hands. Even with the narrowed bezel the device is wider than the Nexus 7, which is already almost too wide to comfortably hold in ones palm. The fact that the bezel is so narrow at the sides actually makes it harder for small one-handed use (holding it from the corner) because you will end up with accidental touches registering from your thumb.
I agree with Schiller that the Nexus 7 is garbage for browsing in landscape mode, but when I’m holding a device like this in one hand it’s extremely unlikely that I want to browse in landscape mode. Whereas I like to read a 10″ tablet like a magazine, I want a 7″ tablet to feel like a paperback, pretty much always in portrait mode except when playing games or movies.
Being the new budget iPad, the mini does not have a “Retina” display, but the fact that it’s smaller means it has higher pixel density than the iPad 2– although at 163ppi it still can’t compete with the much cheaper Nexus 7 at 216ppi. And with the way Schiller slagged off the “Android tablet” I imagine a lot of tech journos are going to do some comparisons and note the significantly better bang-per-buck (hardware) of the N7.
All up, it sounds like a fine budget iPad, and I’m glad Apple have chosen not to fragment the iOS device lineup by introducing another new resolution to support, but making it a bit cheaper would have been nice.