I'm desperate to get my hands on Apple's new iPad Mini. While I had a great time at the 20012 NBAA Annual Meeting and Convention last week, I wasn't able to break away on November 2 to get the local Apple store in Orlando and grab on one of the awesomely diminutive new tablets. Apparently, Apple didn't miss me too much. According to a November 5, 2012 press release, Apple sold three million iPads (including the iPad Mini and fourth generation iPad) in just three days, doubling the 1.5 million record set by the 3rd generation iPad released in March.
I wasn't convinced that the iPad platform was the Holy Grail of Electronic Flight Bags, but the iPad Mini might just be that long-sought-after "perfect" EFB. With technical specifications comparable to earlier iPads, the iPad Mini's compact form factor eliminates the barrier to entry many pilots faced when trying to work out how to use a EFB in a cramped flight deck. The iPad Mini's 7.9 inch touchscreen is marginally smaller than the 8.4 inch displays common on the pioneering Fujitsu-based EFBs, but with a decade's worth of technical evolution, I suspect the smaller screen size won't be noticeable. With a weight of less than 3/4 lbs, the iPad Mini might also reopen the debate on whether or not an STC is required to attach a compact EFB to the yoke using an existing paper chart holder.
Obviously, I have to have an iPad Mini, today. Unfortunately, so does everyone else.
“Customers around the world love the new iPad mini and fourth generation iPad,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We set a new launch weekend record and practically sold out of iPad minis. We're working hard to build more quickly to meet the incredible demand.”
I've checked my favorite "big box" stores and online retailers, and while they are happy to take my money now, the iPad Mini delivery date is a big unknown. Apple's online store is confident enough to quote a two week delivery from the time the order is placed, but retailers like Best Buy simply give "Not Available" as an estimated delivery timeline.
Apple's marketing machine, the mainstream media and the indie tech blogs all seem to say the same thing: the iPad Mini is the new BIG THING. Since Apple doesn't make getting an evaluation unit easy, and I can't seem to get one of the one-or-two-million people who snatched up the only available units over the weekend, I have to remain skeptical.