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Thursday, 01 November 2012 09:52

Apple reviews become entertainment

Written by Peter Scott



Roundup: Blatant bias evolves into sarcasm


The first proper reviews of Apple’s iPad mini are out and it is no surprise that they are largely positive. The new tablet is a sleek, compact device with excellent build quality, but like most Apple gear it’s pricey.

Of course, Apple’s reality distortion field affects objectivity like a black hole tends to affect gravity.  But objectively speaking, the iPad mini is a neat little device with a bunch of shortcomings. While most sane people would agree on that, reviewers actually appear to be going through what shrinks call the five stages of grief. [Or lunacy. Ed]


Denial: Eyes don't have it

So the iPad mini doesn’t have a Retina screen? No big deal, as it turns out.  After talking up the Retina screen as wonderful in their iPad 3 reviews, the hacks trapped in the reality distortion field are now saying you don’t actually need one.

New York Times' David Pogue said: “Apple’s masterstroke was keeping the screen shape and resolution the same as on the iPad 2.” However, he goes on to say: “Sadly, the Mini doesn’t gain Apple’s supercrisp Retina display. Nobody’s going to complain about the sharpness.”

This is a little off. Pogue fell in love with the iPad 3 Retina display, saying that photos, videos, maps and text were “jaw-droppingly good”.

Other reviewers were just as silly. Some even go on to conclude that the 4:3 1024x768 screen is better for HD video, because it doesn’t end up with a big letterbox like a 16:10 1280x800 screen.

Well, we all know that 4:3 screens are way better, right? That’s why Apple went for a 16:10 screen on the iPhone 5, a move praised by every single tech hack on the planet, including some iPad mini reviewers.
 

Anger: Best… iPad… Ever…

Some reviewers genuinely believe the iPad mini is the best iPad to date? Personally, I’d go with the fourth generation iPad, with a Retina display and lightning fast A6X chip. Apple’s New York Press Office, also known as The New York Times would disagree, as their review states that the iPad mini is “what the iPad always wanted to be.” Engadget goes one step further. “This is, in many ways, Apple’s best tablet yet,” reckons Tim Stevens.

The Verge manages to stay on the sanish side, declaring the iPad mini king of the small tablet market. CNET doesn’t need to see nurse Ratchet either:  “If the iPad Mini had a Retina Display, a newer A6 processor, and a slightly lower price, it would be the must-have Apple gadget of the year.”

 
Bargaining: Specs, what specs?

The iPad mini has a venerable processor and a low-res screen, but… according to the reviewers the two-year old A5 processor is just what doctor ordered for the iPad mini.  Anyone who knows something about technology would have expected an A6, so the reviewers have problem saying that this ancient chip is a good thing.  Um, no. Some reviewers suddenly think the A5 is the best thing since sliced bread and can’t fathom why Apple ever spent millions developing the stunning A6. It is true that the A5 is fast enough to run a 1024x768 tablet, but then again so is a well tuned rubber band. It's hardly news though, the iPad 2 has been around for a while.

So when it comes to comparing the iPad mini to competing tablets it is better to do a Mitt Romney and just lie about it. Fox News and CNBC get away with it, so what the hell. Engadget compares the baby iPad to the (much cheaper) Nexus 7: “When it comes down to hardware, it's almost no contest between the two, with the iPad mini clearly winning out -- except in one area. That's the display.” Apparently the iPad is better because it lacks GPS, NFC, packs a slower processor and less RAM. I knew logic was going to have a bad time, but this is too much.


Depression: What depression?

In the Apple bubble the iPad mini is the best tablet ever, including a couple of tablets Moses brought down from Mount Sinai, at least according to the reviews.

 
Acceptance: Poor, poor Logic

Apple guru John Gruber starts his review with a few begrudging remarks about the iPad mini screen, but in the end he comes to the conclusion that he will just have to learn to love it without Retina. Turns out he travels a lot, so an 11-inch MacBook Air and a full-sized iPad weigh 3.8 pounds. They are just too heavy to lug along, making the iPad mini the only choice, as it’s 0.7 pounds lighter. We deeply sympathize with Gruber, who is clearly the Mad Max of tech hacks. After all a 0.7 pound difference is just a straw which breaks a camel's back.


By this point, if there’s anyone left reading this rant, you’re probably thinking the Fudzilla crew has some serious issues with Apple, or mental health in general. I am a recovering iPhone addict and my doctor assures me I’m not bipolar, although I pay him to say so for insurance purposes.

There is something rotten here. In the same way there was something rotten about Stalin's show trials. It’s a matter of sanity, calculus, common sense and a modest degree of professional responsibility. It’s all fun and games until someone’s grandma down in Boca Raton starts buying into the hype and invests her life savings in Facebook. It seems that the US tech press is falling over itself to hawk Apple products, and even when these are subpar has to find something nice to say.

Small wonder then that we are starting to hear talk of Apple complacency and seeing shares south of $600. Living in a bubble will not help the company in the long run, but a touch of reality and old school Apple innovation will.

Last modified on Thursday, 01 November 2012 11:31

Peter Scott

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