Apple announces new iPad mini

2:37 PM, Oct 23, 2012   |    comments
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SAN JOSE, Calif. - The big reveal is here: Apple has introduced an iPad Mini. The new pencil-thin (7.2mm) iPad mini comes a mere half-year after the third generation iPad was introduced. Apple says it is as light as a pad of paper.

It will be priced at $329.

So is it different? Apple says it is not merely a shrunken down iPad. It has a 7.9-inch screen, measured diagonally (versus 9.7-inches for the larger iPad). That's larger of course than the 7-inch screens on the Kindle or Nexus 7. The new screen has resolution of 1024 by 768 screen so all software created for previous iPads will work. 

The iPad mini is made of aluminum, as opposed to the plastic that Google's Nexus 7 is made of. Though they had to expect it, I imagine there's an uncomfortable feeling circulating through the executive offices at Amazon and Google.

The new iPad has a dual-core A5 chip. It has FaceTime HD, and a 5MP iSight camera. It has fast LTE wireless as the bigger iPads, and faster Wi-Fi too. And it has the inevitable Lightening connector (bad news for those of you with lots of iPad accessories based on the prior dock connector).

I think is this is going to be a humongous seller - and I suspect the executives at Google, Amazon and Microsoft may be quaking in their boots, especially at the $329 starting price for a Wi-Fi only model with 16GB or $459 starting prices for 16GB with Wi-Fi plus cellular. The Wi-Fi version ships first on Nov. 2.

I obviously want to get my hands, or should I say, one-hand on it, since that is what Apple is promising you'll be able to do. But I imagine folks are already strategizing about lining up to get one.

Apple says the new smaller iPad has 10-hour battery life.

And it retains what is arguably the biggest advantage that Apple claims - the 275,000 tablet apps in the App Store.

OK, I admit it, I'm lusting after an iPad Mini - and wonder if I get one how often I'd schlep it, and how often I'd bring along the larger third generation iPad that I own. The answer to that will come as I use the Mini, and assess its strengths and weaknesses against the larger model. But already one person I talked to said he's ready to sell the bigger device and just use the Mini. He's probably not alone.

At its big event today, Apple first gave love to the Mac.

The result is a brand new .75-inch thin MacBook Pro that is one-fifth thinner than its predecessor and at just 3.57 pounds is much lighter. The machine has a pair of Thunderbolt ports, a MagSafe 2 connector, USB 3 ports, HDMI, and an SD card reader. The retina display measures 13.3 inches. Apple says the screen has a 75% reduced reflection. It's got a FaceTime high definition camera.

Apple marketing executive Phil Schiller bragged about the screen, the graphics, a 7-hour battery and more. (I'd like a closer look, of course.) It runs OS X Mountain Lion. I'd love an up close look.

Among its features: Power Nap. It can update your calendar, email, backups and more while the machine sleeps.

It starts at $1699, so it's not cheap. The machine starts shipping today.

"You knew there would be something mini in this presentation," Schiller joked. Schiller also announced a new version of the Mac mini computer, starting at $599. One new configuration is a $999 Mac mini server.

While mobile is the dominant form of computing today, Apple is also unveiling an 8th generation iMac. It's super-thin (5mm, 80% thinner than previous generation), has edge-to-edge glass, a beautiful screen, and is so svelte that Schiller quips "there's an entire computer in there. " It does indeed make the previous generation look ancient. The new computer laminates the display directly to the glass.

It's worth noting that to get that thin, however, the optical drive has been removed. I rely on physical discs less and less these days, but some people will certainly miss the integrated drive. (You can still get an optional SuperDrive).

Apple is adding what it calls a Fusion Drive, a new spin on storage. It's 128 GB of flash storage and added to that you can add a 1TB or 3TB hard drive, all fused into a single volume. This sounds great in theory. You get the large storage you may need, but can take advantage of all the software that is preloaded on the machine in the faster flash section. And the drive can intelligently figure out the programs you move most often, so you can take advantage of flash-like speeds. It sounds very impressive.

The price is impressive too, $1299 to start for a 2.7 GHz Quad-core version. Machines start shipping next month.

(USA Today)

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