As anticipated, Apple has introduced the iPad Mini, a 7.2mm-thin aluminum-body tablet with a 7.9-inch screen that will go for just $329 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi-only version. It will start shipping in the United States on 2 November.
Its smaller size and lower price tag makes it ideal for becoming a second-screen device to the television, according to some industry-watchers. "The launch of the iPad Mini could send Apple's dominance in the tablet market into overdrive," said Steve Morris, systems architect at digital TV specialist ANT. "The smaller, cheaper tablet won't just be a device for holidays; it has the potential to extend TV services every day."
Second-screen TV is becoming increasingly popular with services like social TV, search and recommendations and loyalty apps being combined with streaming video.
With the iPad Mini, "consumers will be able to take advantage of an enhanced connected TV experience at a lower price," Morris noted. "Both the TV industry and consumers are becoming increasingly savvy in using tablets and smartphones to enhance the viewing experience. It'll be interesting to see what new services will be tailored to the new enhanced range of iPads to extend TV experience even further, and whether these new devices change the way people multi-task while watching TV."
When it comes to supporting streaming video, the iPad Mini has all the necessary bells and whistles. It lacks the retina display that its larger iPad sibling offers, but it still has a HD resolution of 1024 X 768. It also comes with 5-megapixel iSight cameras for sharp video capture in 1080p, and it boasts a fast dual-core A5 chip to handle advanced video services. It also comes with embedded FaceTime HD and supports all 275,000 apps that have been written for the larger iPads, including Netflix and HBO GO apps. It also has a 10-hour battery life for watching, say, multiple films on long-haul flights.
It will go for $459 for 16 GB with Wi-Fi and 3G, and the pricing escalates from there for 32 GB and 64 GB models with and without 3G and LTE.
The only downside is that it features Apple's new Lightning connector, rendering obsolete previously-purchased accessories without an adapter.
Apple also revealed the fourth-generation iPad as well as new versions of its MacBook and iMac during an launch event at the California Theatre in San Jose.