Almost from the beginning, Apple (AAPL) has been rumored to have been looking at manufacturing a smaller iPad. While the company delivered in form factor, finish, materials, and quality, there has been one thing most industry watchers have wanted… a smaller price. Well, too bad. I have been wanting a smaller iPad for a long time, especially since the 3rd-generation iPad was thicker and heavier instead of thinner and lighter. It’s taken me a while to figure out Apple’s strategy here, but it’s actually quite simple.

To me, the 10-inch iPad is the computer replacement for a lot of people. Not everyone can go without a laptop or desktop as their primary machine, but more and more people are choosing an iPad over a traditional computer. The 10-inch iPad fits perfectly into that role. The 8-inch iPad, however, doesn’t. This is absolutely a more portable, bring-it-everywhere-you-go type of appliance, and from the moment I picked it up, it all made sense.

The level of quality Apple brings to the table here is, well, just as you’d expect. A beautiful slab of aluminum that’s pencil thin, with chamfered edges, small bezels, and a great almost-8-inch display. Compared to other tablets, there is no comparison except for the screen resolution. Yes, it’s not Retina-level, and yes, other tablets have a higher resolution display, but in the end I think the tradeoff is well worth it. It’s better than an iPad 2 screen, though way worse than the current 10-inch iPad, but colors seems to be better than the iPad 2. I can’t wait until my LTE version gets here, because this thing is coming with me everywhere.