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Reviews

Angry Birds Star Wars review

After a few weeks of teasers, Rovio has finally released the next iteration in their Angry Birds franchise, this time with a focus on the classic Star Wars brand. Recognizable settings such as Tattoine, Degobah, and Hoth make an appearance, not to mention all of the birds are dressed up as characters from the movies, each with their own signature special abilities.

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iPad mini review

Once upon a time Apple had a big, industry leading product that they fearlessly overshadowed by releasing a slightly cheaper, more portable version. That was January, 2004 and the product was the iPod mini. This is October, 2012 and Apple has just done it again with the not-coincidentally named iPad mini.

Like the iPhone 5, the iPad mini looks and feels almost unreal. It's not much smaller than the full-sized iPad 4, 7.9-inches diagonally across the display rather than 9.7, but it's almost 25% thinner -- as thin as the last generation iPod touch -- and over 50% lighter. Yet it still runs the same tablet-optimized version of iOS 6 as the iPad 4, and has access to the same 700,000+ apps, 275,000+ of which are tablet-optimized.

Unlike the iPhone 5 and iPad 4, however, the iPad mini uses last year's specs to get that thin and light, and run all those apps. That means no Apple A6-series processor, and most noticeably, no Retina display.

So does portability ultimately win out over power and pixel density, or is Apple's iPad mini a non-Retina non-starter?

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iPad mini camera review

The newly released iPad mini comes with two cameras: a 1.2-megapixel front-facing FaceTime HD camera and a 5-megapixel rear-facing iSight camera with a f/2.4 five-element lens, hybrid IR filter, and backside illuminations. In fact, this is the exact same camera featured in the iPod touch 5.

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iPod touch 5 camera review

Even though the iPod touch 5 doesn't have as great of a camera as the iPhone 5, its camera has been severely updated from what was included with the iPod touch 4. The iPod touch 5 is equipped with a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera with a f/2.4 five-element lens, hybrid IR filter, backside illuminations, and the ability to take both panorama and HDR photos. This camera may have the same megapixel count as the iPhone 4 camera, but the components and build-quality are closer to that of iPhone 5 camera with a five-element lens made from sapphire crystal .

We've already taken the iPod touch 5 camera head-to-head with the iPhone 5, so now it's time take a closer look at the iPod touch 5 camera on it's own. Spoiler-alert: it's probably better than you think!

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iPad 4 review

The iPad 4, variously referred to as the "4th generation iPad" or the "iPad with Retina display" is the second full-sized iPad released by Apple in 2012. While that makes it tempting to flip the proverbial tablet in this review and simply say "this year it comes with an A6X", not only would it be lazy to play that particular card twice, in this case it would also be inaccurate. 7 months after the iPad 3 launched, Apple's has improved more than just the processor in this new, new iPad. They've also included their all-digital Lightning connector, bumped the FaceTime camera to 1.3 megapixels and 720p video, and upgraded the cellular chipset to support international LTE 4G networking.

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iPad 4 and iPad mini performance tests

The iPad 4 has an Apple A6X system-on-a-chip (SoC) is marketed as twice as fast, both in central and graphics processing, as the iPad 3 released only 7 short months ago. Apple's custom, manually-set ARM v7s processor -- called Swift -- remains the 32nm CMOS dual-core beast found in the iPhone 5, but it's been cranked up to 1.4 GHz. The X in the iPad 4's A6X once again represents a quad-core graphics processor, this time the PowerVR SGX554MP4. On spec, that's some serious fire-power.

The iPad mini, by contrast, has the same die-shrunk Apple A5 SoC found in the iPad 2. That's a 1GHz dual-core ARM Cortex A9 and PowerVR dual-core SGX543MP2. But the iPad mini also has the same 1024x768 display as the iPad 2. It's smaller but denser, going from 9.7-inches to 7.9 inches, and 132 ppi to 163 ppi, but it's the raw pixel count here that makes the difference.

Retina comes at a price, and that price is performance for the first generation devices that have to support it. The iPad 3, iPhone 4, the iPod touch 4, even the Retina MacBook Pros were and are maxed out trying to push all those pixels. Once that's done, though, once the price has been paid, however, performance improvements go back to where they belong -- making things feel faster.

So, even with the older, less powerful Apple A5, the iPad mini should fly. But will the new A6X help the iPad 4 do likewise?

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The best free games for iPad 4 and iPad mini

Whether it's strategy, shooter, sports, casual, physics, action, role-playing, racing, word, sims, or puzzle, iMore has carefully collected all of our favorite free iPad App Store games and listed them below for your playing pleasure.

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iPad mini vs iPad 4, iPad 3, iPad 2, iPad 1, iPhone 5 and iPod touch 5 photo gallery

In addition to giving the iPad mini a photo gallery all of its own, we are also excited to present to you a photo gallery that compares the iPad mini to all the other three iPad form factors, the iPhone 5, and iPod touch 5.

Enjoy!

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iPad mini photo gallery

As with every new device that Apple releases, one of the first orders of business is give it a proper photo shoot and the iPad mini is no exception!

Enjoy!

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Arc Squadron review

Arc Squadron launched on the App Store today, summoning many memories for old-school Star Fox players. The on-rails space-themed shooter game takes players through a variety of treacherous interstellar scenarios, who must guide a variety of ships through obstacles with smooth and natural-feeling swipe-gestures, while unloading advanced weaponry and technology against the foes they encounter. 

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