While most of us have to wait until Friday to get our hands on the new iPad mini, a select group of journalists have been using the tablet since Apple unveiled it last Tuesday.

These writers were given early access to the device so they could post full-length reviews before it launches later this week. And a lot of those reviews just went live…

Apple’s embargo lifted just a few moments ago, essentially giving everyone with an iPad mini write-up the green light to post. And as usual, we’ve got a roundup of them.

The Verge’s Joshua Topolsky gave the iPad mini a score of 9/10 and said:

“There’s no tablet in this size range that’s as beautifully constructed, works as flawlessly, or has such an incredible software selection…

…The iPad mini hasn’t wrapped up the “cheapest tablet” market by any stretch of the imagination. But the “best small tablet” market? Consider it captured.”

And here’s Engadget’s take:

“This is, in many ways, Apple’s best tablet yet, an incredibly thin, remarkably light, obviously well-constructed device that offers phenomenal battery life. No, the performance doesn’t match Apple’s latest and yes, that display is a little lacking in resolution, but nothing else here will leave you wanting. “

And CNET:

“It’s light enough to hold in one hand, something the iPad was never really able to achieve for extended periods of time. It’s bedroom-cozy. Other full-fledged 7-inch tablets feel heavier and bulging by comparison. This is a new standard for little-tablet design. It makes the iPad feel fresh. After a week of using the iPad Mini, it seems to find a way to follow me everywhere. It’s extremely addicting, and fun to use.”

The Loop’s Jim Dalrymple was surprised by how much he used the mini:

“I was really surprised with how much I used the iPad mini in my daily routine — more than the 10-inch iPad. There are a couple of things you have to remember with the iPad mini. First, it isn’t just a smaller iPad, but rather it feels like its own device

The second thing is that what seems like a little bit of extra screen real estate on the iPad mini makes a huge difference. Everything just works on the mini — all of your old apps, iCloud, everything. It works.”

TIME Tech:

“If your budget’s got more wiggle room, the iPad Mini is the best compact-sized tablet on the market. Apple didn’t build yet another bargain-basement special; it squeezed all of the big iPad’s industrial-design panache, software polish and third-party apps, and most of its technology, into a smaller thinner, lighter, lower-priced model.”

And here’s TechCrunch’s MG Siegler:

“In my review of the Nexus 7 (which I really liked, to the shock of many), I kept coming back to one thing: the form-factor. Mix this with iOS and Apple’s app ecosystem and the intangibles I spoke about earlier and the iPad mini is an explosion of handheld joy.”

Bloomberg Businessweek’s Rich Jaroslovsky says the mini is “crazy light”:

“The most striking thing about the mini is in how thin and light it is. It is really thin and light. Crazy thin and crazy light, even.

Despite the mini’s larger screen, at under 11 ounces it weighs a full 21 percent less than the Kindle Fire HD, and 9 percent less than the Nexus 7. It’s also 30 percent thinner than either of them, thinner, in fact, than a pencil.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg praised the mini’s battery life:

“In my harsh battery test, where I play videos back to back with the screen set at 75% and the Wi-Fi on to collect email, the iPad mini exceeded Apple’s battery life claim of 10 hours and lasted 10 hours and 27 minutes.

USA Today:

“The smaller form changes the way you approach the tablet. I’ve never hesitated to travel with the bigger iPad. It’s terrific for reading, watching movies and playing games on an airplane — but given a choice, before a road trip I would now more likely grab the little guy. It’s the right size for immersing yourself in a novel. Held sideways, it’s simple to bang out an email with your fingers. Battery life is excellent”

The Guardian says the mini is well worth its higher price tag:

“Lining those pluses and minuses up against those for the Nexus 7 – which garnered four stars – there’s no doubt that this is indeed a five-star device. The 20% difference in comparative price is more than made up by the difference in build quality and software selection.”

John Gruber of Daring Fireball:

“In both the Geekbench and SunSpider benchmarks, the Mini performs identically to the iPad 3 — about 750 in Geekbench (where bigger means faster) and 1,450ms in SunSpider (where lower times are faster). The new iPad 4 blows those numbers away (1,750 Geekbench, 850ms SunSpider), but I’d say iPad 3-caliber performance in a $329 radically smaller device is pretty good.”

Slashgear:

“Apple quotes up to 10hrs of wireless browsing over Wi-Fi for the iPad mini, or up to 9hrs if you’re using the tablet’s cellular connection. In practice, with a mixture of browsing, some video playback, games, music – both locally-stored and streaming – and messaging, we comfortably exceeded Apple’s estimate. In fact, we exceeded 11hrs of use before encountering a battery warning.”

And FOX News:

“After a few days I started to prefer the mini to my larger iPad despite its lack of a Retina screen. It even made my larger iPad look old fashioned. Awkwardly large. The mini is fast, impressively light — weighing in at just over 10 ounces — and easy to keep with me at all times.”

Obviously, these are all positive notes. But that doesn’t mean the iPad mini is perfect. Most notably, the tablet is missing the Retina display of its larger sibling — and practically every other iOS device. And, as several reviewers noted, this makes a big difference when doing things like watching movies.

But Retina or not, the overall consensus of the reviews seemed to be very positive. Most reviewers said that even with out the high-res display, they planned on replacing their 10-inch iPads with the new, smaller tablet.

Speaking of the larger iPad, a new one of those will be released on Friday as well. It has a faster processor, upgraded FaceTime camera and other improvements. And a few journalists were given a sneak preview of it as well:

Here’s The Verge’s take on the 4th generation iPad:

“The fourth-generation iPad is the very definition of an iterative change: Apple made important things better, but neither overhauled nor revolutionized anything. If the iPad’s history is any indication, the fourth-generation iPad’s advantages over the third-gen model will be most apparent two years from now, when apps are designed for the better processor and the Lightning connector has spawned a much larger universe of accessories.”

And CNET:

“The A6X speeds up the iPad back to levels you’d expect, and it handles Retina Display graphics even better. This is the iPad 3S, so to speak. Considering that the iPad still has the same price as before, starting at $499 for 16GB, it’s an even better buy than it was seven months ago.”

Engadget:

“Twice as fast, better battery life, same cost. What more do we need to say? The new iPad is a hit on all fronts — but it of course won’t be received that way by all. Those who just made the investment in an old, new iPad are likely going to feel a bit burned, and we feel for you.”

And The Loop’s Jim Dalrymple:

“There’s not really much to say about the iPad 4. It’s really fast in both processor speed and graphics, but we knew that. For me, the iPad 4 gives developers more headroom to continue pushing the envelope of what they can produce. That in turn, gives us better products to buy for the iPad. It’s good anytime that happens.”

It seemed like a lot of iPad 4 reviewers shared this sentiment — that the new iPad looks and feels exactly like its predecessor. Sure, some noted that games seemed to run a bit more smoothly on the new tablet, and that it booted up faster. But for the most part, no one could really tell a difference. Of course, this will change once developers start taking advantage of the new A6X processor.

Regardless, judging by the collective reviews, it looks like Apple has a couple more hits on its hands with the new iPad and iPad mini. And consumers agree, Apple has sold out of initial pre-order stock for both [Wi-Fi modeled] tablets.

Thoughts?