Rumours of a 7 inch 'iPad Mini' are swirling anew, with reports from the likes of The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg capping off speculation that Apple will debut a trimmed-down tablet in the tail end of this year.
The scuttlebutt pegs the device as having a 7-8 inch screen, with more specific reports saying Apple is buying up 7.85 inch screens – a size which Mac boffins say would deliver the same resolution as its 9.7 inch big bother, allowing all current iPad apps to run on the smaller tablets.
If the tea leaves are being read correctly, this means Apple will join the 7 inch tablet tableau of mid-sized screens and appealingly affordable price tags: going up against the likes of Google's Nexus 7 and Amazon's Kindle Fire, both of which sell in the USA for US$199.
There have been other 7 inch tablets from the likes of Acer, BlackBerry, Motorola and Samsung. None hit the price point which Google clearly sees as crucial to mass market success, but they all challenge the notion that the almost 10 inch form factor of the iPad is the only way to go.
If Apple gets into the 7 inch game, expect the 'iPad Mini' to couple low a similarly jaw-dropping US$199 (A$249?) price tag with a minimal amount of storage (say, 16GB); WiFi but no 3G; and definitely no Retina display. And expect it to land by November, just in time for the Christmas rush.
All of which makes us ponder: how suitable and usable for business travellers and frequent flyers is the 7 inch tablet?
On our travels the AusBT Team sees plenty of iPads in lounges, on airplanes, at hotels and cafes. Does anybody think they're actually too big, and is hoping for – or would 'downgrade' to – a 7 inch iPad?
If you already own a 7 inch tablet – have tried one but decided to stick with a larger model – or think 7 inches would be the 'just right' size for travel, we'd like to hear your say in the comments box below.
About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.