Confirming months of rumors, Apple unveiled a smaller version of its iPad at a media event this week. Designed to compete with tablets from other companies, this smaller device comes out just in time for those of us who like to start our holiday shopping a little early.
So much for all those statements by Steve Jobs that his company would never produce an iPad mini. Apple CEO Tim Cook trotted out the new $329 device with a smile while VP of marketing Phil Schiller noted that “You knew there'd be something called Mini in this presentation.” (Okay, that's not exactly how it went, but work with me here!).
But let's get to the specs. The iPad mini is 7.2 mm thick – thinner than all but the thinnest pencil leads. It boasts the same 1,024 x 768 resolution as its bigger brother, but the smaller screen should make it appear even sharper. Best of all, it can and will run all of the software its larger siblings handle. For your $329, you get 16 GB of storage; for an additional $129, you get 4G. You can also pay $429 to get 32 GB, or $529 for 64 GB. You can pre-order a Wi-Fi version this Friday; the cellular versions will be available for pre-order in two weeks.
Apple's presentation this week wasn't all about the new iPad mini, though. They also unveiled a 13-inch MacBook Pro that weighs in at a pound less and 20 percent thinner than its predecessor. This 3.57 pound notebook comes with a 2.5 GHz Intel processor, an improved Retina display that boasts more than four million pixels (four times as many as the previous generation), and a solid-state drive with up to 768 GB of storage. Its seven-hour battery life should get you through many airplane flights. The entry-level version will set you back $1,700.
Too rich for your blood? You might want to check out Apple's updated Mac Mini and iMacs. A new iMac? Hey, this isn't the old, clunky CRT or even monitor-mounted-on-a-half-globe you might be picturing. It's a complete redesign. This all-in-one baby boasts an incredibly thin screen, a quad-core Intel Core i5 processor starting at 2.7 GHz, nVidia graphics, and some interesting storage options. You can choose a standard 1 TB hard drive, or up to 768 GB of flash storage if you'd rather not use a traditional hard drive, or you can opt for something called Fusion Drive, “which combines a high-capacity hard drive with high-performance flash storage,” according to Apple. Fusion Drive is supposed to manage your data and applications intelligently, so that the stuff you use and access frequently resides on the faster flash drive, while the items you retrieve less often shift over to the hard drive. For the starter model, which boasts a 21-inch screen, you'll need to pony up $1,299.
So what about that Mac Mini? To be fair, that's what Schiller was talking about in that quote above, when he mentioned that something in this presentation would be named “mini.” This Mini features a dual or quad core Intel i5 or i7 processor, Intel graphics 4000, 4 GB RAM, 500 GB HDD, and costs a reasonable-sounding $599. You can get a Mac Mini with two 1 TB drives for $999. “A lot of our customers use it as a server,” Schiller noted.
At the end of the presentation, Apple CEO Tim Cook noted that the company had had a truly innovative year. They needed to, with both Microsoft and Google unveiling new tablets. Somehow, though, I get the feeling that they're not too worried about the competition catching up.
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