Apple Announces iPad Air and Retina iPad Mini – Refreshes MacBooks and Mac Pro

Just a banner day for tech! First, Microsoft starts selling the new Surface 2 and Surface Pro today, then Nokia announces the Lumia 1520 phablet and 2520 tablet, now Apple is getting into the act with refreshes to their tablets and computing lineups.

iPadAir-iPadMini_34B2B_lock-blue_home-nebula-PRINTThe iPad is getting a significant face lift. Now dubbed the iPad Air, it’s thinner, narrower, and lighter than previous iPads. I’m happy to see more rounded corners than the iPad Mini. Measuring just one pound, it’s a significant achievement keeping weight that low without sacrificing battery life. It’ll also go a long ways for folks who might have issues holding onto a heavy 10″ slab. The same pretty Retina Display is up front, but it’s backed up by faster and more powerful internals. iPad Air will retail for $499 for a 16GB WiF model and $629 for an LTE model.

Oddly enough, the iPad 2 will be sticking around as a low cost 10″ option at $299. In this market it’s getting REALLY long in the tooth…

If mini tablets are your jam, the iPad Mini is also getting a Retina display refresh, making it more competitive against the HD screens in the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire. The Mini will also sport the newer A7 processor found in the iPad Air and iPhone 5S, making it more of a premier tablet than a low cost solution. The price for the new Mini backs up that idea as a 16GB iPad Mini will run $399, no small chunk of change for an 8″ screen. The original iPad Mini will stick around as a low cost alternative at $299. Not an easy sell against a $229 Nexus 7, but a decent buy for those wanting to stay in the Apple ecosystem without breaking the bank.

MBPRD13_MBPRD15_Aperture_PRINTThe MacBooks all get spec bumps and price drops. Utilizing the newest chipsets from Intel, the 13″ MBP will now start at $1299, and the 15″ will start at $1999.

The Mac Pro is finally getting its long awaited update. The tubular design is much smaller than previous Pros, and finally brings the pro into current tech like Thunderbolt and USB 3. Up to 12 processor cores, up to 64GB of RAM and dual AMD graphics cards, this beast looks like it’ll easily chew through 4K video editing. We’re still waiting on actual hardware to see if the casing can be opened for Professionals to upgrade. As it is targeted at pros, the price tag is very much premier. The Mac Pro starts at $2999 for a quad core workstation with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of solid state storage.

MacPro_Core_Exposed_PRINT.tifLastly, OSX Mavericks is finally getting pushed out to the app store. I’m still kind of bummed that it wasn’t dubbed “Ocelot” as that’s my second favorite big cat. What’s making news here, for the first time ever with OSX, Apple is pushing a .1 operating system update for free. Unlike Microsoft, Apple usually charges for “system pack” updates. Now, as long as you’re running at least Snow Leopard on a machine built after 2007, you should be good to push the button on Mavericks free of charge. This could be our last OSX hurrah before Apple starts moving to a new OS? Could we see OS11 next year?

Happily, Apple’s stock only dropped about 1.5 points following the announcement, so it would seem Apple investors are adopting more reasonable expectations for Apple’s performance.

Hit the links for more info on all of Apple’s announcements today!

iPad Air and Mini Press Release
MacBook Pro Press Release
Mac Pro Press Release
Watch the Apple Keynote