There's a company out with a new tablet computer that poses a direct threat to the iPad. Fortunately for Apple, that company is Apple, and that tablet is the iPad mini.
Apple picked the right name for this $329-and-up, 7.9-in.-touchscreen device: Just as the iPod mini (and then the still-smaller iPod nano) relegated the "classic" iPod to the high end of the market, this smaller model looks primed to become Apple's mainstream tablet.
ANALYSIS: Things Unsaid in Apple's New iPad News
Why? It does everything a regular iPad can do at a lower price and in a smaller package that, at .68 pounds, invites single-handed use. A big iPad still makes more sense as somebody's only computer and for some specialized uses; for instance, I'd rather edit pictures on its 9.7-in. display. But for most Web-plus-apps-plus-media use, Apple users need look no further than the iPad mini.
The initial knock on smaller tablets, coming from Steve Jobs himself, was that buttons on their screens would be too small to navigate by touch. That's not the case on the mini, where pretty much every interface ingredient is easy enough to nail with a fingertip. Thumb typing seems outright easier on that smaller expanse of glass, although the sharp edge of the aluminum casing around the screen may distract you.