Today a cast of frumpy Apple executives proudly took the stage in their untucked dress shirts to reveal a handful of polished new products, the most exciting of which are two new iPads: The iPad Air and the iPad mini with Retina display.
As to be expected, they are thinner, lighter, and more powerful than the gadgets they are replacing.
Let's start with the iPad Air! It's razor-thin at just 7.5mm thick — which is indeed comparable to the thinness of a #2 pencil, as Apple claims — but retains the same 9.7-inch screen as the full-sized iPad. This was accomplished by shaving the bezel down by about 43 percent.
True to its name, the iPad Air weighs just 1 pound — down from the 1.4 pounds of its immediate predecessor. It basically looks like the iPad mini, but stretched out.
Speaking of which, the new iPad mini has the same dimensions as its predecessor (7.9-inch screen, etc.), with one glaring new difference: Retina display. Apple says this was the device's most asked-for feature.
As for what's inside: Both new iPads come with the same blitzy A7 chip as the iPhone 5s. Apple suggests the iPad Air's new 64-bit architecture delivers 8x faster app performance (which is comparable to desktop PCs). For you, that means applications open twice as fast. Both new iPads are said to get 2x faster WiFi, and are supposed to deliver 10 hours of battery life, which is rather impressive if true.
Pricing-wise, the iPad Air occupies the premium slot in Apple's iPad lineup with an asking price of $499 for the 16GB WiFi-only model. The iPad mini with Retina display starts at $399 for the 16GB WiFi-only model.
Consumers can also pick up the iPad 2 and the original iPad mini at lower price points, $399 and $299, respectively. Both new iPads will be available for purchase beginning November 1 through the usual channels.