iPad Mini pre-orders set to begin early Friday morning

But at least one analyst is predicting that Apple iPad Mini tablets may initially be hard to come by. 

The new iPad mini is projected on a screen at an Apple event in San Jose, Calif, on Oct. 23. An iPad Mini shortage has been projected by some analysts.

Earlier this week, Apple introduced the long-awaited iPad Mini. And beginning at 12:01 a.m. Pacific time on Friday – or 3 a.m. Eastern, if you'd like – consumers can begin placing their pre-orders for the sleek, square, slim tablet. Mini prices start at $329, for a Wi-Fi-only, 16GB model; the 64GB Wi-Fi Mini will set you back $529. (LTE versions of the tablet won't start shipping for a couple weeks, Apple says.) 

Just make sure you're quick on the trigger finger – already, some analysts are predicting that Apple may have trouble keeping up with demand for the Mini. 

"As is typical, we expect the iPads to be supply constrained initially, especially the iPad Mini with its $329 price," Richard Shim, Senior Analyst at DisplaySearch, an analytics firm, wrote in a blog post today. "The new low price point is expected to appeal to a wider audience and drive up demand. However, panel supply chain indications point to an even more than typical tightness in the market for the iPad Mini."

So let's assume you do manage to wrangle a Mini. How will the device handle? 

Well, reviews of the iPad Mini won't appear for a few more days, but a gaggle of journalists managed to get their hands on the device at a press event earlier this week in New York, and most of them were impressed.

"The Apple iPad mini may be the most beautifully built device I've ever seen," gushed Sascha Segan of PC Mag. "It feels years ahead of the current iPad, and even of other high-quality metal tablets like the Asus Transformer series," he added. 

And here's Andrea Chang, of the Los Angeles Times: "Although the mini's screen doesn't boast the high-resolution retina display found on the latest 9.7-inch iPads, I found the images to be sharp and clear," Chang said. Moreover, she added, "compared with the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD, it was nice to have that extra 0.9 inches of screen size."

So yes, the early critical reception has been good. But for our part, we remain a little skeptical about the Mini. 

As we noted yesterday, the Mini – to our tastes – is an awkward fit in terms of shape and an awkward fit in terms of price. Size because if we're going to watch videos or read the news, we'd prefer to do it on the 9.7-inch tablet. And price because $329 is not exactly budget for most folks – and if you're going to lay down $329, why not just lay down $499 for the full-sized device? But we welcome dissent. 

Drop us a line in the comments section. And for more tech news, follow us on Twitter @venturenaut.

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