Apple and Amazon are finally in direct competition over hardware. The iPad Mini, unveiled today by Apple, is close enough in size, weight, and price to Amazon’s Kindle Fire for consumers to consider the devices head-to-head. In fact, we ought to lump the devices — along with the Google Nexus 7, Nook Tablet, and Samsung Galaxy Tab — into their own category: one-handed tablets. (See Ritchie King’s analysis of where the iPad Mini will fit into Apple’s product lineup.)
When we talk about how much a device weighs, its form factor, and what it’s made of, we’re also asking a simpler question: will it be used with one hand or two? Amazon has subtly but relentlessly insisted that the Kindle, in both its E Ink and LCD versions, is a one-handed tablet. Try finding an Amazon marketing image in which someone holds a Kindle with two hands. Instead, we get lots of this:
The iPad, meanwhile, was unveiled in Steve Jobs’s lap, is almost always used with two hands, and was perfectly captured by this great photo of Spike Lee (by White House photographer Pete Souza):
The 10-inch iPad is hardly heavy, weighing in at just 1.4 pounds. But try holding that thing up with one hand. Still got it? Steady. Steady. Need a break yet? Put simply, it’s no Kindle, almost all of which weigh under a pound and some of which are so light that you almost want to toss them like frisbees. Or, more practically, read a book on it while standing on a crowded subway. Or, as depicted in Amazon’s latest Kindle ad, brush your teeth while holding it:
Or, you know, leave the ground with it:
While the iPad stays tethered to earth:
Well, until now. The iPad Mini weighs 0.68 pounds, and it’s Apple’s first one-handed tablet.