Apple unveils 1-lb iPad Air, Retina-infused iPad mini

After tackling Mac updates during today's keynote, Apple moved on to the pièce de résistance: new iPad goodness.

Two new iPads are coming next month. The most striking one is perhaps the iPad Air, which delivers the same 9.7" Retina display as the iPad 4 inside a more compact and much lighter package. Apple has shrunken the size of the bezel, reduced the thickness from 0.37" to 0.29", and lowered the weight from 1.4 lbs to an impressive 1.0 lbs. Apple claims the iPad Air is the "lightest full-sized tablet in the world."

The iPad Air is faster, too. It features the same 64-bit A7 system-on-a-chip and M7 motion coprocessor as the iPhone 5S, and thanks to MIMO, it has faster Wi-Fi performance (up to 300Mbps) than the iPad 4. Apple has rounded out the package with a five-megapixel rear camera, a 1.2-megapixel front camera, and dual microphones. Battery life remains unchanged at 10 hours.

The iPad Air is scheduled to ship on November 1 in two variants: Silver and Space Grey. Pricing will still start at $499 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model and $629 for the variant with LTE wireless.

What about the new iPad mini? As expected, Apple added a Retina display to its 7.9" tablet, giving the mini the same 2048x1536 resolution as the full-sized offering. More surprising is the fact that the updated iPad mini has essentially the same internals as the iPad Air: A7 chip, MIMO Wi-Fi, 5MP rear camera, 1.2MP front camera, and a 10-hour battery. The only catch is that Apple has raised the price from $329 to $399—and the device isn't coming until "later in November."

Folks with shallower pockets will be able to pick up the older, non-Retina version of the iPad mini for $299. Apple will also continue offering its non-Retina iPad 2 alongside the iPad Air for $399. I don't know who'd be crazy enough to pick up an iPad 2 over a Retina iPad mini for the same price, though. Seriously.

Finally, I suppose I should mention that Apple has unveiled some updated covers and cases for the iPad lineup. The new, polyurethane Smart Cover will be available for $39, while its leather Smart Case counterpart will offer additional protection for a heftier $79. Both accessories will be offered in different colors, which you can see here.

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