Brief thoughts on Apple’s Fall 2012 tech announcements: the iPad Mini, ultrathin iMacs, and more

Apple logoToday, Apple announced as expected the debut of the iPad Mini. Less expected, however, was a lot of other upgrade announcements coming with the Mini. Thought I’d give my initial thoughts on each product; the full list is summarized at Engadget.

iPad Mini

The biggest news that’d been anticipated and much debated online for weeks is the new 7.9-inch iPad Mini. The Mini has similar features to its regular-sized¬†brethren, but smaller. The Apple folk presenting it made a lot of thinly-veiled comparisons to (and putdowns of) Google’s competing (and popular) Nexus 7 tablet, which itself is due for big news in a few days. The base 16GB WiFi model will go for $329.

I figured the Mini wouldn’t be cheap, but at $329 for the base model, I’m wondering how well it’ll do against the already entrenched 7-inch tablets (the Kindle, Nook, and Nexus namely), which are much more affordable, starting at $200.

iPad (Fourth Generation)

Another surprise today was the reveal of a fourth generation iPad, with spec-bumped features from the recent no-longer-“new” iPad. Rather short lifespan for the third-gen iPad, though, despite its hype months ago.

Mac Mini

The Mac Mini’s been upgraded as well, mostly in terms of the processor (Ivy Bridge). Two models, a $599 base model and a $999 “server” model, are available. While more RAM in the base model would be nice, it still should make a nice entry level Mac.

iMac

The iMac’s the other big surprise today. It’s been slimmed down, with a super-thin screen (that eliminates the optical drive), plus the same Ivy Bridge processor upgrades as the Mini and MacBook. There’s also the offering of a “Fusion Drive,” Apple’s name for its hybrid drive offering. Overall, the pictures of the new iMac look sleek and impressive. One concern though: the 21.5″ model doesn’t let users upgrade the RAM themselves, though the 27″ retains said feature.

MacBook Pro

The 13″ MacBook Pro is also revamped, as basically a smaller version of the 15″ retina MacBook model released awhile ago, complete with a lack of optical drive. The previous 13″ Pro version will remain on sale for a lower price.

As you’ll note above, while little was said by Apple, they’ve basically dropped the optical drive from their computers; the only model left with optical drives (besides a few of the MacBooks) is the Mac Pro, which is way overdue for an upgrade/overhaul. I’d figured Apple was heading this direction for quite some time, though I expected this move to have happened much sooner; they’ve never been shy about dropping widely-used hardware or adopting brand-new features. See the earliest iMacs, which had no floppy drive (but offered CD burners as a then-high end feature) and were early users of USB. Still, since a lot of people will like playing DVDs or ripping DVDs/CDs to their computers, perhaps there’ll be a small, brief boost in external DVD drive sales?

 

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