Apple Unveils Pencil-Thin iPad Mini

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Apple unveiled its iPad Mini on Tuesday. This smaller tablet is set to compete against the Amazon Kindle Fire and Google's Nexus 7. Apple's other product announcements, about notebook and desktop computers, demonstrate the company's technical innovation on many platforms.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

OK. Let's talk a little more about a small screen. Of course, Apple has dominated the tablet computer market with its iPad. The company says it's sold 100 million of them, but it's had some competition from smaller rivals - smaller screens, that is. Amazon's Kindle and Google's Nexus can easily fit in a purse, or even a jacket pocket. So, as expected, yesterday, Apple introduced a smaller version of the iPad - bigger than an iPhone, smaller than the iPad, the iPad Mini. NPR's Laura Sydell reports.

LAURA SYDELL, BYLINE: The iPad Mini has been in the rumor mill for weeks, but reporters and a select group of Apple fans finally got to see it at a theater yesterday in downtown San Jose. Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller flashed a picture of the Mini.

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PHIL SCHILLER: I think we can tell by our excitement you know what this is. This is iPad Mini.

SYDELL: The iPad Mini is 7.9 inches at the diagonal, and 7.2 millimeters thick.

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SCHILLER: To put it in context, it's as thin as a pencil. It weighs just .68 pounds. So, in context, what can you compare that to? It's as light as a pad of paper.

SYDELL: After the announcement, I picked up the new iPad Mini, and it was wafer-thin and a lot lighter than I thought it would be.

You know, I have to say, I felt like, oh, my God. It's like a cracker.

(LAUGHTER)

FRANK GILLETT: Yeah, yeah. It's that light. I mean, literally, you pick it up and you're, like, wow. Where's the weight?

SYDELL: That's Forrester analyst Frank Gillett. He's pretty bullish on the iPad Mini, though at $329, it's more expensive than its two biggest competitors. They would be the Google Nexus 7 and the Amazon Kindle HD, which start at 200 bucks. But Gillett thinks the Mini will sell itself.

GILLETT: It's amazing to pick up and hold or to look at. And the moment people do that, they're going to have a hard time with the choice: Do I spend the extra money or not? Some will choose not to, but I think a lot will.

SYDELL: The iPad Mini is faster than its rivals, and it's got nice features, like it can make HD videos. And Apple isn't just showing off the new iPad Mini to stuff in Christmas stockings. It's upgraded some bigger products that will need to go under the tree. Gillett's excited by the Fusion Drive for Apple's desktop, the iMac. It sounds geeky, but by combining a regular hard drive and a flash drive, Gillett says it make starting and using software on the computer faster.

GILLETT: Right now, the way we use computers, there's a lot of hesitation and stuttering. It breaks flow. When you have the flash memory stuff - and the fusion drive will bring it at a more reasonable price - then you can stay in the flow. You don't have to think about the computer. You just use it.

SYDELL: Apple also upgraded its regular iPad and introduced a thinner, lighter, faster 13-inch MacBook Pro. And Apple recently put out its new iPhone 5 and a new line of iPods. Gartner analyst Mark McGuire says there's something for everyone going into the holiday.

MARK MCGUIRE: What they're reminding everybody of is the top-to-bottom ecosystem. This is incredibly strong, and they've now replenished that ecosystem for the next several months.

SYDELL: But Apple isn't the only one replenishing. Microsoft has a new tablet coming out this week, and Google is also scheduled to release new products this week. It hasn't said what they are, but chances are good at least one of them will fit into a stocking. Laura Sydell, NPR News, San Francisco.

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INSKEEP: Already available in all sizes: It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News.

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