Compared with its rivals, iPad Mini is short on pixels

The iPad Mini may have a larger screen than its competitors, but it doesn't have the sharpest screen resolution.

Apple's new iPad Mini boasts a larger screen than Google's Nexus 7 or Barnes & Noble's Nook, but has lower screen resolution than both devices.

In the tech world, product specs can be tricky to parse. When Apple introduced its iPad mini yesterday (Oct. 23), it made much of the mini's bigger screen in a side-by-side comparison with the rival Google Nexus 7. What Apple didn't say is that the Nexus 7 (which starts at $199, compared with the iPad mini's starting price of $329) has 30 percent greater resolution.

And the New Nook HD (also starting at $199) offers the highest resolution of small tablets. Its 7-inch screen packs four times as many dots as the mini's.

If you want to watch HD video, it won't fit on the iPad mini (or, for that matter, the original iPad or iPad 2, which have the same resolution). But the Nexus 7 has a few more pixels than needed for basic "720p" HD, and the Nook has well more than needed for the best-level of HD, known as 1080p.

In fact, the iPad mini barely tops (by less than 60,000 pixels) the new iPhone 5, which has just a 5-inch screen (of a different — widescreen — shape).

But just as screen dimensions don't tell the full story, neither do just pixel counts. A larger screen can have larger virtual buttons and text entry fields, for example, making them easier (if less detailed) targets for fat fingers.

And true HD may not matter so much at this size, unless you have your nose pressed to the screen. TV makers, for example, generally say 720p is fine for screens below 42 inches (measured diagonally). It's noticeable only at 50 inches and larger.

Time will tell whether screen size or pixels make more of a difference for the iPad mini. But certainly one number doesn't tell the whole story.

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