Apple's Worst/Best Kept Secrets Revealed

The iPad mini – Apple’s worst-kept secret ever – has now been fully revealed. The real surprise of today’s press conference was a 4th generation iPad for the holidays, landing just 6 months after its’ predecessor’s introduction, alongside thinner, lighter iMacs and MacBook Pros for the big spenders amongst us.

Higher priced than competitive models in its diminutive (one-hand gripped) size range, the 7.9-inch iPad mini will start at $329 for a 16 gigabyte version with WiFi, bumping up to $429 for a 32 GB tab and $519 for a 64 GB version. LTE connectivity adds $130 to each. The WiFi-only versions ship Nov. 2; cell versions two weeks later.

The iPad mini’s 1024 x 768 Retina display matches the iPad 2 in resolution. So developers won’t have to reconfigure programs for the smaller screen. Other features include a dual-core A5 processor, FaceTime HD camera and a 5 megapixel iSight camera on the tail end with 1080 recording. The next gen also brings a Lightning connector and dual band 801a/b/g/n WiFi, while maintaining 10-hour battery life. “It’s every inch an iPad,” said Apple’s Tim Stevens.

Claiming to be so far ahead of the competition “we can’t even see them in the rear-view mirror,” Apple also heralded new 9.7-inch iPads with double the CPU and graphics performance of ye old ones. The newbies also have an upgraded FaceTime camera capturing 720p images, LTE capability extending to the Sprint network, improved WiFi, that smaller Lightning connector (introduced on the iPhone 5) and new camera/SD/USB/HDM/VGA adaptors. All at the same prices of iPad predecessors, starting at $499 (16 GB).

A full pound has been squeezed out of the new 13-inch MacBook Pro laptop, while its display boasts four times the resolution (2,560x1600) of last year’s. A base model with 2.5 GHZ dual core i5 processor, 8 GB RAM and 128 GB flash can soon be yours for a mere $1,699.

Also introduced today – a new Mac Mini ($599 starting point) and a couple ultra-ultra thin iMac desktops. The latter shed optical drives (sigh) while upgrading processors and screen resolutions. The new 21.5-inch (1920x1080) iMac desktop will fetch $1,299 and up, the 27-inch (2560x1440 resolution) version opens at $1,799, both available in November.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled life.