Already the iPhone is a popular mobile reporting tool, but like any smaller smartphone it has limitations (especially for typing out stories). But the iPhone is less unwieldy to use than a full-size iPad for, say, snapping photos, recording audio, or shooting video.
Where might the iPad Mini fit in to a mobile journalist's toolkit? This tablet certainly is easier to carry around in a purse or pocket and whip out than a standard iPad -- a considerable benefit for capturing news on the go. The whole device measures 7.87 inches by 5.3 inches, and it's just over a quarter inch thick. It weighs 0.68 pounds -- less than half the weight of a standard iPad.
So you can easily hold the iPad Mini device in one hand, but you will probably need to use two hands to operate it.
The iPad Mini display measures 7.9 inches diagonally, with the same aspect ratio as a 9.7-inch iPad display. Therefore, both iPad and iPhone apps should be fairly comfortable to use on the iPad Mini. It has a high-resolution display, but it's not the super-high-end Retina display technology. So how easy it might be to use the iPad Mini in full daylight isn't yet known.
The cost? The wifi-only iPad Mini starts at $329 (16 GB). That's significantly pricier than Google's Nexus 7 small tablet, which starts at $199 (8GB, wifi only). But the tech specs of the iPad Mini are probably more appropriate for mobile journalists.
This small tablet should perform snappily, even for handling large media files. Like the iPhone 5, the iPad Mini comes with 16, 32, or 64 GB of memory. It features a reasonably fast processor, and (like the full-size iPad) the iPad Mini's front-facing camera can shoot 1.2 megapixel photos and 720p HD video. Its rear-facing 5 MP camera can shoot 1080p HD video -- but for comparison, the iPhone 5 has a more powerful 8 MP rear-facing camera.
You can't depend on wifi access when you're gathering news around your community, so journalists would probably prefer one of the costlier iPad Mini models that can connect to a wireless carrier's high-speed LTE data network (AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint). LTE-capable iPad minis start at $459 (16 GB) -- a significant price premium, plus you'd have added monthly costs for a data plan.
If you're currently on one of the "shared" smartphone data plans (such as Verizon's "Share Everything" plans), you can probably add an LTE iPad Mini to your existing plan for about $10/month plus costs for increasing your monthly data allotment. But most carriers will let you adjust this month-to-month -- so if you end up not needing LTE access for awhile you might be able to deactivate the iPad Mini temporarily from your plan to save money.
There are no LTE models of the Nexus 7 yet. Samsung offers some LTE-capable 7- and 7.7-inch models of its Galaxy Tab line of Android tablets starting at about $359 -- but the tech specs for these devices probably aren't what most mobile journalists would prefer.
Apple claims the iPad Mini battery will last "up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music." Of course, working journalists tend to use mobile devices far more intensively (such as streaming live video), which can drain your battery in half that time or less. Plus, if you're working in location with poor wireless access your battery will drain even faster -- and you may not be able to plug in to recharge.
You can't swap the battery in any Apple mobile device, which is why many mobile journalists carry spare plug-in or wrap-around battery packs by Mophie. So far, Mophie hasn't announced products specifically for the iPad Mini -- although that is almost certainly forthcoming soon.
Typing on the iPad Mini is likely to be less challenging than on an iPhone, but more challenging than on a full-sized iPad. Several vendors have already announced iPad Mini-sized keyboards.