iPad mini is here, and some thoughts on non-Retina
Apple has begun selling the iPad 4 and iPad mini around the world, and while crowds have been much, much smaller than iPhone launches, which stands to reason, they've also been smaller than previous iPad launches. This is Apple's second full-size iPad launch of the year, however, and pre-orders have taken a lot of wind out of in-store, launch day crowds.
I lined up in the middle of the cold (39 degree F), rainy, Montreal night anyway, because that's what I do. There were 2 of us until about 7:30am, when the line had grown to about 20 people. The Apple Store staff handed out vouchers. Only the Wi-Fi models were available (cellular will follow in a few weeks). There were also no 32GB iPad mini in white, but all the other models were in stock. They didn't even bother handing out vouchers for the iPad 4; they had plenty of stock.
Starbucks coffee was served, the store opened at 8am, and most of us were done by 8:20.
I'll be following up with the prerequisite unboxing and hardware tour videos soon. Based on trying the iPad mini out in the store, however, said hardware is almost certainly going to impress.
And to answer the inevitable question -- yes, I'm bothered by the lack of Retina display. It irks my eyes. However, even Apple is bound by the laws of physics and shrinking a 2048x1536 display down to 7.9-inches, hitting 326 ppi, for an iPad mini would require so much backlight and power that it would make the iPad mini much thicker and heavier, and that would defeat the entire purpose. It would likely also increase cost. Miniaturization isn't cheap.
The Retina 4-inch Retina display in the iPod touch and iPhone 5 are "only" 1136x640 pixels by comparison, and the Retina iPad 4 is 48% thicker.
Apple will get Retina on the iPad mini one day, but it's absolutely better to start with thinner and lighter and work their way there.