Apple Event Results: iPad mini, and Updates to iPad, MacBook Pro, iMac, and Mac mini

The myriad of leaks over the past few months regarding the iPad mini finally proved to be true, today, as Apple unveiled the smaller tablet to press attendees at the California Theatre in San Jose, Ca.

The event was also streamed to owners of the Apple TV, as well as Mac and iOS users through Safari. Much of what Apple showed off today was expected, though there was one surprise.

But first, let’s cover the big small one.

iPad mini

Apple was apparently saving its newest product for last; its unveiling came toward the end of the event. Apple entering the small tablet space is a big deal, and the company knew it. There weren’t a lot of surprises here for those who have kept up with the latest leaks and rumors, as most of them turned out to be right on the money.

The entry-level, 16 GB WiFi iPad mini will start out at $329, with 32 GB and 64 GB options coming in at $429 and $529, respectively. The newest member of the iPad family doesn’t stand out in the specs department; it features a 1024 x 768 non-Retina display, which is the same resolution as the iPad 2. It also packs in the older A5 chip found in the 3rd generation iPad and the iPhone 4S. Apple focused more on the size and weight of the iPad mini — 7.2 mm thin, 0.68 lbs. — and features like the FaceTime HD camera and 10-hour battery life. It seems the main selling point for the iPad mini will be its size, and its price, and those are the points Apple really hammered on during the product’s presentation.

iPad

Most expected the iPad to get a nominal update with a Lightning port and a spec bump, and, indeed, that’s what the iPad got. But the biggest surprise during the iPad portion of the event was the fact that Apple labeled this update as the “4th generation iPad.” Phil Schiller, who unveiled and spoke about the product, credited the quick update of the iPad to the progress of the tablet’s product team at Apple. Of course, labeling this new iPad as the 4th generation raises questions about what product, if any, Apple will release in March or April. If the iPad Apple showed off today is the iPad it’ll be selling for the next year, the product release timetable will have changed in a big way.

In terms of specs, the latest iPad has been upgraded with an A6X chip, which Apple claims has two times the graphics performance as the 3rd generation iPad. The 4th generation tablet also has a FaceTime HD camera, and expanded LTE compatible with markets around the world. WiFi speed has been doubled, and, of course, the Lightning connector makes its official debut on the device. Price points for the larger iPad remain the same, with the 16 GB WiFi version starting at $499, with $100 jumps for expanded storage. Cellular options start at $629, with the same $100 intervals for storage upgrades.

MacBook Pro

Phil Schiller made it a point to mention that, while people really love the new MacBook Pro 15-inch model with the Retina display, the top selling MacBook is still the 13-inch MacBook Pro. That device has now received the Retina display upgrade (at 2560 x 1600), as well as a slew of other updates. For starters, the new 13-inch Pro is now 0.75 inches thin — 20% thinner than the older 13-inch model — and  is a full pound lighter, as well (3.57 lbs). Apple reduced glare on the device by 75%, and added a FaceTime HD camera to the front.

The entry-level MacBook Pro 13-inch Retina model starts at $1,699, and packs a 2.5 GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and 128 GB of solid stage storage.

iMac

The iMac line hasn’t seen an update in awhile, but today’s event finally brought out some big updates. The iMac is now incredibly thin; 80% thinner, to be exact, at 5 mm. It’s also 8 lbs lighter than its predecessor. The optical drive was removed to accomplish the task of making the new iMac both thinner and lighter, which may unnerve those who still rely on physical media, but Apple seems confident that flash media and the Web is the way to go for storage. The iMac also boasts a FaceTime HD camera on the front of the machine, and the usual assortment of ports on the back, such as Gigabit Ethernet, two USB 3 ports, an SD card reader, two Thunderbolt ports, and a headphone jack.

Apple also showed off its new Fusion drive option, which is available for the iMac and the updated Mac mini. The Fusion drive incorporates both SSD and traditional hard drive technology into one drive. The operating system files are stored on the solid state drive, which allows for faster loading and application use. Files you access on a regular basis are also automatically moved to the SSD drive, while files and applications you don’t use much are stored on the much-larger hard disk drive.

The entry-level iMac has a 21.5-inch, 1920 x 1080 screen, and starts at $1,299. Inside, you’ll find a 2.7 GHz processor, 8 GB of RAM, and a 1 TB hard drive. The 27-inch, 2560 x 1400 model comes loaded with a 2.9 GHz quad-core processor, 8 GB of RAM, and a 1 TB hard drive for $1,799. There are, of course, many different storage and processor configurations that can increase the price of both, depending on what you need.

Mac mini

The Mac mini got a small update today, and just a few minutes of stage time. The machine is virtually unchanged on the outside, but on the inside, you’ll find  a 2.5GHz dual-core i5 Ivy Bridge processor, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive. This configuration is priced at $599. A server configuration, priced at $999, comes with a 2.3GHz quad-core i7 Ivy Bridge processor, 4GB of RAM and two 1 TB hard drives. There are plenty of ports on the Mac mini; four USB 3 ports, HDMI out, Thunderbolt, FireWire 800, and an SD card reader.

So, what did you think of the event? Are you happy with the new products, or was there something you wanted that you didn’t get? Let us know in the comments section.

About the author

— Shawn Farner

Shawn Farner is a Harrisburg-based tech blogger who has been involved in online media for over eight years. He covers consumer electronics, Web companies, and gaming.

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  1. Apple is indeed a truly amazing company, practically revamping it’s entire product line is something that consumers rarely ever see.

    I’m a fan of all the product updates that apple announced yesterday, the new 13″ Macbook Pro is astounding, and I can’t wait to see fusion drive hacked to work with older systems as we all know it will.

    Honestly, I can only think of one disappointing part of apples keynote yesterday. The iPad Mini price-tag. Admittedly apple did a pretty decent job comparing the iPad mini to it’s peers and reminding us all that apps for the iPad still outnumber apps for android tablets by also 400%, but with the astronomical amount of money that apple is making I would have liked to see them bring that price down near the kindle fire HD ballpark.

    I suppose I understand apples perspective, I’m sure they’d rather sell the new 4th gen iPad over the new mini, so they make the price points not that far apart and people will spend the extra few bucks to get the bigger device. (This is all just a theory anyways) but as mentioned I would’ve been nice for apple to take a small hit on the sales of the device to bring it into that entry level marketshare, and potentially bringing millions more to the iPad and iOS app store.

    Once again I feel it was a great keynote, apple blew us away with the new thiner iMac and 13″ Retina MacBook Pro, and I think I can say with confidence that we’re all looking forward to seeing them in the wild.

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