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iPad Mini Starts at $329; New 9.7-Inch iPad Debuts

Apple did manage to surprise people by launching a new fourth-generation classic iPad

Apple Tuesday brought out the roundly anticipated iPad mini with most of the specs exactly as the rumor mill called it. At least the price remained a secret. The 7.9-inch diagonal widget will cost $329 to start, pricier than many people expected.

In the manner of Steve Jobs' famous "one more thing," Apple did manage to surprise people by launching a new fourth-generation classic iPad tricked out with a fancier A6X processor that's supposed to be good for 2x better graphics with a 2,048-by-1,536 pixel Retina display and faster Wi-Fi connectivity. Pricing remains the same as its predecessor, which just came out in March, upsetting entirely Apple's traditional upgrade cycle.

There were also some late whispers of a 13-inch MacBook Pro with a Retina display and that debuted too starting at $1,699 as well as an updated Mac mini that runs $599 for 4GB of RAM and 500GB of storage without a screen. A $999 version doubles the storage.

Apple said it sold 100 iPads as of two weeks ago, making its Q3 a little lighter than thought, which may explain why the stock, already off its high, slumped ahead of it posting its Q3 numbers on Thursday.

The fabled black or white mini, set to compete against the cheaper Amazon Kindle Fire and Google Nexus 7, can fit in one hand and weighs next to nothing at 0.68 pounds, even with two cameras. It's 7.2mm thick and its display is 1,024-by-768 pixels, the same as on the iPad and iPad 2, but since it's smaller the picture looks sharper. It'll run all the same 275,000 apps unmodified.

Apple demonstrated the dingus alongside the Nexus 7, which has a 35% smaller screen compared to the mini. When browsing the web, the mini is 49% larger in portrait mode and 66% bigger in landscape mode.

It's built on a dual-core A5 chip, borrowed from the iPhone 4S, and promises 10-hour battery life. It'll come with Wi-Fi only and LTE wireless connectivity. The Wi-Fi models run $329 for 16GB, $429 for $32GB and $529 for 64GB. The 4G models run $459 and $559.

Pre-orders start October 26 with Wi-Fi deliveries starting November 2. The LTE models should go out the door two weeks later.

It remains to be seen whether the smaller iPad grows Apple's market or cannibalizes the traditional iPad.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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