Apple introduces iPad Air, iPad Mini with Retina

San Jose Mercury NewsOctober 23, 2013 

— Apple Inc. on Tuesday debuted its newest iPad models in time for the holiday shopping season, announcing a new name and thinner body for its full-sized tablet, dubbing it the iPad Air, and giving the iPad Mini its high-definition “Retina” display.

Apple CEO Tim Cook bragged at Tuesday’s launch event that the iPad has surpassed 170 million sales since its 2010 introduction and accounts for more than 80 percent of tablet usage. But, he added, “This is just the beginning for iPad.”

Cook then brought out marketing executive Phil Schiller to introduce the iPad Air, which weighs just 1 pound, the lightest full-sized tablet in the world, according to Schiller. The previous full-sized iPad weighed 1.4 pounds.

The iPad Air, which has a starting price of $499, receives the same powerful 64-bit A7X processor that debuted in the new iPhone 5S. Schiller said the change will double processing and graphics performance from the previous iteration of the tablet computer. Apple will continue to sell the iPad 2 with a starting price of $399.

The iPad Mini receives the Retina display that is already offered on full-sized iPads and some Mac products, and also receives Apple’s new 64-bit processor. The new screen arrives with a price bump for the iPad Mini, which will now start at $399; the previous iPad Mini started at $329, and it will receive a $30 discount to a starting price of $299.

Both new iPads will debut Nov. 1 and will be offered in two color options: silver and white, and space gray and black.

Cook kicked off the event Tuesday morning by praising the company’s recent iPhone launch and iOS update, and discussing the company’s vision for its Mac line of personal computers.

“We have a very clear direction and very ambitious goal” with Macs, Cook said before ceding the stage to software executive Craig Federighi, who provided more details on Apple’s new PC operating system, called Mavericks in honor of the San Francisco Bay Area surfing spot.

Federighi showed off the new operating system, focusing on its ability to extend battery life and use memory more efficiently to run the system faster. Federighi also announced that Mavericks will be provided for free, a new twist from Apple, and is available for download on Macs dating back to 2007.

Schiller followed Federighi onstage to continue discussing Apple’s PC line, beginning with updates for the MacBook Pro line of laptops. The 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro models will be juiced up with new Intel chips, and both received a $200 price cut, starting at $1,299 and $1,999, respectively. The two laptops will be available immediately.

Schiller also announced new details about Apple’s high-powered desktop PC, the Mac Pro, which was previewed at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference last June along with Mavericks, which has been in beta testing since then. Mac Pro will have a new-generation Intel Xeon processor with four, six, eight or 12 cores and the fastest memory ever in a Mac, with capability of up to 64GB.

The Mac Pro, which will be assembled in the United States, will only have flash storage, eschewing hard drives for up to 1 terabyte of flash storage, and will sell for $2,999 and up.

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