You wouldn’t want anything much smaller than this. The 8-inch display is amazingly crisp and clear, given that it’s the same resolution as the 10-inch iPad with retina display, and that clarity really pops. Especially when the backlight is up – text on a white background looks like print on paper. An 8-inch display also lets you actually interact with it much like you would with a larger tablet – it’s not the same cramped experience as a 6-inch “phablet” (but you can totally one-hand the iPad mini for reading or grip it by the fingertips on either side for easy pickup). Also worth noting: this is the first iPad I’ve ever had that was fully visible through my polarized Ray-Bans instead of going dark in portrait mode. That alone is a huge win.
It does fit in the inner pocket of my peacoat, although it’s a little snug and the opening is far enough up that you can’t really slide it in easily – but once in, it fits and carries without any problem (it’s less than a pound) – basically, this is going with me anywhere I wear a jacket until warm weather returns. The 200 MB per month of free T-Mobile data isn’t nearly enough for everyday use, but then, the whole point is to use the ubiquitous wifi everywhere in Silly Con Valley and have the T-Mob stuff in a pinch (and based on my testing of a T-Mob SIM in the phone for the last week, there will be plenty adequate signal for my purposes in said pinch).
Long story short: this is fulfilling the promise of what I was trying to squeeze out of the 3rd-generation Kindle all those years ago: all-purpose reading device plus enough free data to be useful without having to splash out for a monthly nut. This tablet could absolutely go to the UK with me and the temptation to do so would be mighty strong. I’m glad I have it.