The little tablet that could has at long last arrived. Smaller than an iPad, thinner than a pencil, and faster than a speeding iPad 2, the iPad Mini was officially introduced today at a press event in San Jose, Calif., weighing in at a featherweight 0.68 pounds and with a small screen that measures 7.9 inches across.
Apple CEOand VP of Marketing Phil Schiller, both of whom are perennial presenters at these big-deal Apple product unveilings, presented the mighty Mini at a press event at the plush California Theater. The duo also introduced a new next-gen iPad, a 13-inch Macbook Pro with Retina display, and new Mac Mini and iMac models.
The main attraction, though, was the introduction of the iPad Mini. "You can hold it in one hand," Cook told the crowd. "It's not just a shrunken down iPad. It's an entirely new design."
Yes, it is an entirely new design. It's as thin as a pencil, at 7.2 mm thick. The tiny tablet is powered by Apple's A5 processor, the same processor found in the iPhone 4S and most recent iPad and the iPod Touch incarnations. While the screen does not have the magnificently beautiful Retina display that Apple built into the new iPad and iPhone 5, its 1024-by-768 screen display does appear sharper thanks to the smaller screen.
That said, the iPad Mini does not actually do anything that its predecessors couldn't do. It's just a smaller and more affordable iPad that you can hold in one hand. And "more affordable" depends on your definition of "more affordable."
The lowest-priced iPad Mini will be $329 for the basic 16GB model with Wi-Fi reception. The 32GB iPad Mini with Wi-Fi will cost $429, and the 64GB Wi-Fi version costs $529. The cellular reception 16GB iPad Mini goes for $459, while its 32GB counterpart will cost $559 and the 64GB model will be $669.
Yes, Apple did also surprise the crowd with an unexpected new version of full-size iPad, an "iPad 4" if you will. This is just seven months after the release of the iPad 3, and iPad 3 buyers are not pleased.
Are you the type to line up outside an Apple store to get your iPad Mini on the very first day it's available? That day will be Friday, Nov. 2. If you're the pre-ordering type, pre-orders begin this Friday, Oct. 26.