The meaning of the term Mobile Internet Device (MID) has evolved subtly over the years. In the mid to late 2000s, the time before tablets reigned supreme, MID was used to refer to a sort of middle-of-the-road device between a smartphone and a laptop or netbook in size and functionality: something handheld and highly portable, with a bigger screen than a smartphone so that you could more easily view and interact with full-sized Web pages, but smaller than a laptop so that you could slip it into a coat pocket and use it anywhere. It could have a small built-in keyboard, a touch screen or both as input methods, and could utilize WiFi or cellular networks for connectivity. Sometimes, people would lump phones and netbooks into the expression MID as well, to mean any highly portable Internet-enabled device. Smartphones aside, sales of the earlier mid-sized mobile devices foundered at first, being sought mainly by technology enthusiasts.
But in 2010, something happened that in a way changed the face of modern computing. The Apple iPad debuted: a 10-inch (25.4-centimeter) touchscreen tablet running Apple's proprietary iOS operating system. It allowed you to download applications from Apple's proprietary iTunes store and run them on a larger screen than the iPhone. It was very similar in function to the iPhone and the other touchscreen smartphones that followed it, but everything was scaled up. It was easier to read the text on Web pages and books, and made for an experience closer to that of operating a computer or laptop with a normal sized monitor, but with a highly responsive touch screen that allowed you to eschew the mouse, and far greater portability. You could use it anywhere in the house easily if you had a WiFi network, or outside the house if you found a WiFi hotspot or opted for one of the more expensive 3G cellular models. Bulky, expensive tablet computers existed before, but were more geared toward business use. The iPad made the tablet computer something the general population realized that they wanted for the first time. It sold, and is still selling, incredibly well.
And, as one would expect, many companies are trying to jump on the bandwagon of Apple's success with similar, and often cheaper, devices that provide some of the same capabilities. Now that tablets are taking over much of the market share once held by laptops, and to a lesser extent held by the small mobile devices once dubbed MIDs, the name MID is generally used to encompass both the smaller tablets and the full-size tablets themselves, often in a connotation referring to the cheaper tablet competitors. Some of these even take the name MID, like the MID M80003W, a super-cheap 8-inch (20.3-centimeter) tablet that sells for under $100, or the spate of slightly more expensive Coby-brand tablets that have MID in their model numbers.
They range greatly in price from the slew of recently released cheaper models around $100, to more expensive fare from major computing manufacturers like Samsung, Motorola and Toshiba, the latter of which are more in-line with the iPad's $399 to $829 price range. But there are some mid-ground priced models that review worse than their expensive parents, but better than their cheaper brethren.
Read on to learn more details of MID specifications.