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iPad Mini debuts for $329, surprise iPad also coming Nov. 2

Apple senior vice president of worldwide product marketing

Apple senior vice president of worldwide product marketing Phil Schiller announces the new iPad Mini during an Apple special event at the historic California Theatre in San Jose, Calif. (Oct. 23, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

Not only did Apple deliver exactly what consumers expected at its Oct. 23 event in San Jose, Calif., but it also surprised owners of the latest traditional iPad with a serious case of buyers’ remorse. In addition to its anticipated unveiling of a smaller, less expensive iPad Mini, and upgrades to its existing line of laptop and desktop computers, Apple surprisingly released a fourth generation of its iPad – just seven months after launching its third-generation version in March.

As expected, the iPad Mini will have a 7.9-inch screen that maintains the proportions of the larger iPad so that application developers aren’t burdened with another screen size to take into account. The smaller tablet has a 1024 x 768 non-“Retina” display with the same number of pixels as the second-generation iPad, which was released in March 2011. In fact, many of the specs are similar to the iPad 2, except in a significantly smaller package. The iPad Mini is 7.2 mm thin and weighs 0.69 pounds, compared to the 8.8-mm thick and 1.33-pound iPad 2. The iPad Mini will hit stores Nov. 2 with a starting price of just $329.

Out of the blue, Apple also released a new iPad. At the same price $499 starting price-point as the third-generation iPad, the fourth-generation iPad has a better display, twice the processing speed and graphics performance, an improved camera and high-speed 4G LTE data capabilities. It will ship Nov. 2.

"We're not taking our foot off the gas," said Apple chief executive Tim Cook.

Perhaps the most visually stunning release was the new iMac, which ticks in at just 5 mm at its thinnest edge (see a gallery of the new products here). Apple shed eight pounds off of the product’s weight and stripped it of a DVD drive, while introducing a new memory system – called an “Apple Fusion Drive” – for faster performance. The 21.5-inch iMacs start at $1,299 and ship Nov. 2, while a larger, 27-inch version will be available in December. Apple also upgraded its Mac Mini desktop tower.

Apple’s best-selling computer, the 13-inch MacBook Pro, was also upgraded. The laptop was outfitted with a Retina display to match previous upgrades to the 15-inch model, and possesses a thinner, lighter profile. When closed, the laptop is three-quarters of an inch thick and weighs 3.57 pounds. It ships Nov. 2 with a $1,699 starting price.

During the presentation Cook also showed off some impressive sales statistics for the iPad. Two weeks ago, he said, the company sold its 100 millionth tablet and sales of iPads in the second quarter of 2012 topped the total PC sales of any other individual computer manufacturer. Finally, 91 percent of tablet Internet traffic came from iPads.

"We're already so far ahead of the competition,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, "I can't see them in the rearview mirror."

Here are the highlights:

iPad Mini: Apple unveiled a 7.9-inch iPad Mini, which it compared favorably in processing and performance to the second-generation iPad unveiled last year (details start with the posting at 1:55 p.m. in the live blog below). The base model, without cellular connectivity and with a 16 GB hard drive, starts at $329. It will hit stores Nov. 2.

Fourth-generation iPad: Apple unexpectedly unveiled a new iPad with higher resolution cameras, 4G LTE capability, and twice the processing speed and graphics performance of the previous edition (see details at the 1:49 p.m. posting). Like previous models it will start at $499 and it also ships Nov. 2.

iMac: The new iMac is amazingly thin -- just 5 mm at its edge (80 percent thinner than pervious models). It also weighs about eight pounds less than the last generation. The desktops come with a new "Apple Fusion Drive" (see details at the 1:35 timestamp below) and includes a higher resolution. The base model starts at $1,299 and it ships Nov. 2.

Retina display 13-inch MacBook Pro: Apple kicked off the event by introducing a new, thinner, lighter and higher-resolution version of its most popular computer, the 13-inch MacBook Pro (see details at the 1:18 mark). It will also ship Nov. 2 and starts at $1,699 -- $500 cheaper than the retina display 15-inch model that Apple introduced earlier this year.

Scroll below for the live blog as the announcements occurred.

2:14: Nope, Cook is walking offstage. That's all for the unveilings. Keep it here for a recap.

2:13: Cook is wrapping up, are we going to get Apple's notorious "...and one more thing"?

2:11: Cook: "Yes, it has been an incredible year. With all of these new products and all of these applications and cloud services this has been a truly prolific year of innovation for Apple. We hope that you love these products as much as we loved creating them." He continues by thanking the development team at Apple.

2:10: Schiller exits and Tim Cook takes the stage again. Cook is recapping all of the new products Apple has launched this year, from Mountain Lion operating system, to new phones, tablets, notebooks and desktops.

2:02: The video ends and now Schiller is unveiling the price. It starts at $329 for a 16GB one. It's the lowest ever price for an iPad. With cellular access it starts at $459. A 64 GB version starts at $529. The new iPad Minis will ship Nov. 2.

2:01: Schiller leaves the stage and gives way to a video further describing the iPad Mini. In the video, Apple industrial designer Jony Ives stresses that Apple focused not just on shrinking the iPad, but rather "concentrating" it, so that users don't only think about what's missing from the new smaller one when they're using it.

2:00: Schiller says the performance of the iPad Mini is equal to or better than the second generation iPad. There's an HD FaceTime camera and the back camera as a 1080p high definition camera. The W-Fi is twice as fast, a dual-core processor and it's compatible with the new "lightning" connector. IPad Mini also has 10 hours of battery life, Schiller says.

1:58: Schiller is comparing the iPad Mini to an Android tablets. He points out that when you remove all the "noise" from the screen and display of the Android, the iPad Mini actually shows more content despite being a smaller, thinner device.

1:55: Schiller said Apple chose a 7.9 inch display for the iPad mini, compared to a 9.7 inch for the iPad 2 (without retina display), with the exact same number of pixels so that application developers don't have to reconfigure their products for the new release.

1:54: It's 7.2 mm thin (about the width of a pencil), a quarter less than the new fourth generation iPad. It weighs 0.68 pounds, 53 percent lighter than the new iPad. 

1:53: Schiller is holding up the iPad Mini. It's amazingly thin.

1:52: And here it is: the new iPad Mini! Big round of applause from the audience.

1:51: The new iPad will come in both black and white, and start at $499 for the 16 GB model. The cellular model starts at $629.

1:49: The new product has two times the processing power, two times the graphics power, with the same battery life. Its upgrading the FaceTime camera with 720p and are bringing 4G LTE technology to the new tablet. Apple is also updating the Wi-Fi and making it compatible with the new "Lightning" connector unveiled last month.

1:48: Just seven months after unveiling the new iPad, Schiller says Apple is unveiling a fourth generation of the iPad. "We're already so far ahead of the competition ... I can't see them in the rearview mirror," he says.

1:47: "We're not taking our foot off the gas," Cook says, as he invites Schiller back up to the stage to introduce an update to the iPad line.

1:45: Cook is unveiling upgrades to iBooks Author, which is the publishing platform for textbooks on the iBook store. It's available for download today from the iTunes store.

1:42: Like at the last event, Cook notes that 91 percent of all Internet traffic from tablets comes from iPads. "Why?" he asks rhetorically. "Because people love their iPads." He goes on to list the features users love. Cook also talks about how widely it's been embraced in education.

1:40: Two weeks ago, Apple sold its 100 millionth iPad -- just two and a half years after the product first launched. In fact, in the second quarter, Apple sold more iPads than any PC manufacturer sold PCs.

1:39: That's all for Schiller. Cook retakes the stage and "wants to talk about iPad."

1:38: 21.5-inch 2.7 GHZ quad-core i5 with 8 GB of RAM and a 1 TB hard drive starts at $1,299. It shops Nov. 2. A 27-inch 2.9 GHz quad-core i5 with 8GB Ram and a 1 TB Hard Drive will be $1,799 when it becomes available in December.

1:35: The new iMac will have an "Apple Fusion Drive" which contains 128 GB of flash storage and 1 TB or 3 TB of hard drive storage that's fused into a single volume and works automatically. Preinstalled programs are put on the flash drive so that they can be pulled up quickly, while user files will be on the hard drive. The fusion drive will automatically switch applications and files between drives for maximum performance.

1:33: It comes in two sizes, 27 inches and 21.5 inches. It has a full lamination design and plasma deposition, which allows for an anti-reflective coating. There will be 75 percent less reflection. There's a FaceTime HD camera, dual microphones and two speakers. It's also eight pounds lighter than the previous generation. Like the new MacBook Pro, there's no optical drive.

1:32: Schiller is explaining how Apple came to develop the much thinner iMac and create a computer that is a single piece of aluminum. 

1:30: It is 5 mm thin, 80 percent thinner than the previous generation. "There's an entire computer in here," Schiller said. "It's hard to imagine there's even a display in here."

1:29: Wow -- the new iMac is impossibly thin. Big round of applause from the audience.

1:28: Schiller says the iMac is the number one selling desktop in the U.S. and he is about to unveil an update to the product line.

1:27 The new Mac Mini starts at $599 for 2.5 GHz dual-core i5 processor with 4 GB Ram. It also ships today. A more decked out model -- with 1 TB of memory and a quad-core i7 processor will be priced at $999.

1:26: "Mac Mini -- you knew there would be something called 'Mini' in this presentation," Schiller jokes.

1:23: The new MacBook Pro will have a 7-hour battery life and an Intel 2.5 GHz i5 with 8 GB RAM for $1,699. There's also a version with an Intel i7 Core processor that will retail at $1,999. Both ship today. Schiller is showing off the advertisement for the new MacBook Pro. A feature called PowerNap has the computer updating even while asleep.

1:18: The new 13-inch MacBook Pro is 20 percent thinner and weighs just 3.57 pounds. Apple has stripped it of its optical drive. The retina display has a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 -- four times the resolution of the previous version. There screen has a 29 percent higher contrast ratio and 75 percent reduction in reflection (or glare) compared to the older model.

1:16: Schiller said the 13-inch MacBook Pro is the company's best selling computer, and now Apple is bringing the Retina display -- already available on 15-inch models -- to the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

1:15: Cook invites Phil Schiller up to the stage to introduce updates to the Mac computer line.

1:14: Cook said Macs are outgrowing PCs. In the year ending in June sales have grown 15 percent for Macs, compared to just 2 percent for PCs. Now, Macs are the top selling desktops and laptops in the U.S.

1:12: Cook starts the new releases by unveiling a new version of the iBooks app, with continuous scrolling. He said it's better integrated with iCloud so that all purchased books show up across devices, and readers can pick up where they left off no matter the device. There's also better integration with Facebook and Twitter. It also supports 40 languages. It's available as a free download starting today.

1:10: Apple customers have downloaded some 35 billion apps, and Apple has paid out some $6.5 billion to app developers, Cook announced. 

1:09: Cook is discussing the connectivity between the varios Apple products -- from iOS devices to Macs -- and estimated that 28,000 iMessages are sent each second.

1:07: Just more than a month after the September release of iOS6, Cook says 200 million devices are running the new operating system.

1:05: Cook retakes the stage and recaps some of the reactions to the new line of iPods that were released with the phone. He said Apple has already sold 3 million units of the new iPods.

1:02: Tim Cook starts off by providing updates on the new iPhone 5. He says Apple sold more than 5 million units in the first weekend, the most ever in an opening weekend. He leaves the stage and gives way to a video showing scenes from retail stories during when the iPhone 5 was released. 

1:00: A big round of applause as Tim Cook takes the stage. 

12:50: We're looking live at the California Theater stage. As per usual, Apple's logo is projected on a dark screen behind the stage and the audience is awaiting chief executive Tim Cook's arrival.

Apple has scheduled a news conference for 1 p.m. today at the California Theater in San Jose, Calif. It is expected to unveil a miniature version of its signature iPad tablet. The latest rumors call for a $300-to-$350 device with a 7.85-inch screen, as opposed to the standard iPad's 9.85-inch screen, without a retina display. Some also expect the company to release updates to the MacBook Pro laptops, and the iMac and the Mac Mini desktops. Follow along with the live blog above and let us know what you think in the comments section below.


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