What to expect from Tuesday's Apple iPad event

11:57 AM, Oct 22, 2012   |    comments
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Apple's invite was sent to members of the media. (CNN/Apple)

(NBC) -- The rumors surrounding Apple's press event, scheduled for Oct. 23, are deafening. Will the Cupertino-based company announce a smaller iPad? (It had better.) Will the company offer up a 13-inch MacBook Pro with a Retina display? (Very likely!) How about an Apple-branded coffee maker? (No.)

We'll find out for certain which rumors are true at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET on Tuesday, when NBC News' tech/sci editor Wilson Rothman will be inside the event, covering it live here (and tweeting at @wjrothman). For now, let's sort through the latest gossip and making our best guesses. Here's what Apple might announce:

iPad Mini (or is that "iPad Air"?)
We suspect that the smaller iPad will be a 7.85-inch device. This particular size has been floating around for over half a year, since a report in the Wall Street Journal suggested that Apple is testing a device about eight inches in size. Since that time, we've heard various other outlets cite their own anonymous sources in order to back up these measurements and narrow them down to the 7.85-inch point.

Odds are high that the smaller iPad will not have a high-resolution Retina display like the iPhone 5 or the third-generation iPad. A Bloomberg report suggests it will use a slightly lower resolution display and be priced to compete with Google's Nexus 7 tablet (and other lower-cost tablets such as those made by Amazon or Barnes & Noble).

According to Apple watcher John Gruber, the smaller iPad may look a lot like a large iPod Touch, rather than any other current Apple device, and have a somewhat smaller bezel. Simple logic suggests that the device will have a Lightning connector, just like the iPhone 5 and the latest iPod touch devices. Rumors regarding the guts of the so-called "iPad Mini" - or "iPad Air," as some rumors suggest it will be called - have been scattered and leave us hesitant to hazard many guesses about that aspect of the device. (Most of the noise is around an A5 processor and 512MB of RAM, for what it's worth - about the same specs as an iPad 2.)

As far as the price goes though, it's all about educated guesswork. As our own Wilson Rothman pointed out, $249 would be the magic price tag for this tablet. "I think that $249 is the 'all other tablets are dead' price, and $299 is the 'Apple keeps its market share while making a comfortable profit' price. Anywhere over $300 is a "not good" price," Rothman concludes. "Not in today's market, not with a full-sized iPad 2 selling for $400 and a Retina-display iPad selling for $500."

That pricing logic may not win out, however. As 9to5Mac reported, Apple's smaller iPad may be priced at $329, in order to sit somewhere between the $299 iPod Touch and the $399 iPad 2.

13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display
According to multiple reports, both from purportedly "reliable sources" cited by 9to5 Mac's Mark Gurman and analysts cited by CNET's Brooke Crothers, Apple will show off a 13-inch version of the MacBook Pro with Retina display. This laptop will supposedly be "sold in two configurations, with differing processors and storage, and will be available for purchase soon after introduction," Gurman explains.

A report by the 9to5 Mac staff additionally suggests that the new laptops will start at around $1699. This price tag would belong to the base-model, according to the report, and a higher end version of the laptopwould cost about $200 or $300 more.

This new laptop is expected to co-exist with its larger siblings, so don't worry that the current MacBook Pro with Retina display models will disappear from shelves.

A new-new iPad
The folks at 9to5 Mac call attention to a photo allegedly showing a device which appears identical to the third-generation iPad, except for one small change: It has a Lightning connector instead of a 30-pin connector. One could speculate that the device will see a minor refresh, though it's questionable what sort of other changes might be made, beyond the connector.

Would Apple be crazy enough to refresh the third-generation iPad after just seven months? It would be unprecedented, but not totally outside the realm of possibility.

The other little things
It wouldn't be surprising if Apple were to announce some minor refreshes to its iMac and Mac Mini lines. According to MacRumor's handy-dandy buyer's guide, both of the product lines are certainly due for some changes. While the New York Times' David Pogue, citing an Apple exec, did peg a Mac Pro refresh for 2013, there seems to be wiggle room on the arrival date of a new iMac.

As a French Apple blogger discovered, there's also a chance that we'll also see some news related to ibooks, Apple's ebook software. After all, there appear to be apps referencing iBooks 3.0 already.

Oh, and let's not forget about the obligatory iTunes update. What would an Apple event be without one of those?

(NBC News)

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