Posted at: 10/24/2012 8:40 AM
By: Mark Barger, NBC News
Apple's new iPad Mini has been the worst kept secret in consumer technology the past few months.
Apple officially took the wraps off of the product Tuesday, but not without a surprise or two.
The new iPad Mini is about two-thirds the size of the full sized iPad and about half the weight. It has a starting price of $329 dollars for a 16gb WiFi only version.
"The biggest surprise is that the screen is not one of those high resolution, retina display screens. It's just a regular 1024x768 screen, kind of like the first generation iPad," notes CNET.com senior editor Dan Ackerman.
Front and back cameras are also part of iPad Mini's features mix.
Its arrival is Apple's answer to competitors' smaller tablets that have tried to rival the original iPad.
"Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google, guys who make the 7 inch tablets that are $200 dollars, they really dodged a bullet today, because at $329, the iPad Mini is a lot more expensive, it feels like a different class of device," Ackerman says.
Along with iPad Mini's unveiling, Apple caught most tech observers off guard by also unveiling a new fourth generation iPad, just six months after the most recent update.
A better camera, faster processor and enhanced wireless network access are the major improvements to what's quickly becoming an extensive array of iPad products.
Apple says it'll take advance orders for both the new iPad and the iPad Mini starting Friday.
They'll start shipping and be available in stores on November 2nd.
The company also introduced new updates to its iMac desktop and Macbook laptop computers.