I have an iPad 2 which I stood in line at the Apple store to purchase the day it launched. I loved my iPad, but it was a pain to use when reading or watching video in bed, mostly because of the weight.
So my wife got me a Mini for my birthday which has essentially the same hardware specs as the iPad 2 – same resolution (1024 x 768, not retina), memory (512Mb), processor (A5), but just a fraction of the weight. Of course the display is only 7.9″ as opposed to the larger iPad display, but my eyes are okay with it so far.
If I hold the Mini in portrait orientation I can thumb type very effectively. I never did use the split keyboard much on the iPad 2, never could get a good feel for it as it’s not as if I was typing on a true split keyboard where my fingers rest on the home keys. On this point, my Android-using friends (I’m looking at you, @jspad) remind me that they don’t need to type with two hands because they use Swype. Touche.
I tried to take notes on the mini in a business meeting where lots of note-taking was warranted. It was not a good experience. If you need to generate a lot of content, this is not the device for you. Although, neither is the iPad 1, 2, 3 or 4, however, I acknowledge that using an external keyboard made this easier for me on the 2 and would probably help out with the Mini. For those scenarios I’ll just stick with my MacBook (or whatever laptop I’m using) from now on.
Overall, I love my new Mini because of its compactness and comparability in power to the iPad 2.