Apple refreshes iPad lineup, adds iMac with 5K display

On the heels of Google's new Nexus hardware launch, Apple has revamped its line of iPad tablets, and it has introduced an iMac desktop with a 5K screen. The Mac maker has also announced the immediate release of OS X Yosemite, which should be available for free on the Mac App Store today, and the impending arrival of iOS 8.1, which is coming on Monday.

At just 6.1 mm, the iPad Air 2 is 18% thinner than the original iPad Air. The new device is faster, too, thanks to a 64-bit A8X chip that purportedly delivers 40% higher CPU performance and 2.5X higher graphics performance than the previous generation. Other additions include a Touch ID fingerprint sensor (which also makes the iPad Air 2 compatible with Apple Pay), an anti-reflective display coating (which reduces reflectivity by 56%, Apple says), improved front and rear cameras, dual microphones, 802.11ac support, and faster LTE for that model.

The iPad Air 2's rear iSight camera can shoot eight-megapixel stills, 43-megapixel panoramas, and 1080p HD video. It also brings a larger f2.4 aperture and support for some of the same capabilities as the iPhone 6 and 6S camera, including burst mode, timelapse, and slow-motion video. The front FaceTime camera has gotten an upgrade, as well, with a larger f2.2 aperture and support for burst selfies, single-shot HDR photos, and HDR video.

The new iPad mini 3 also features TouchID, though it's still equipped with a five-megapixel rear camera and 802.11n Wi-Fi. In those respects, it's not merely a more compact version of its larger, pricier sibling.

Just like their predecessors, the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 will start at a $499 and $399, respectively, for 16GB models with Wi-Fi. Pre-orders will begin tomorrow, and shipments are scheduled to start "by the end of next week." Interestingly, Apple will continue to offer not just the previous-gen iPad mini 2, but also the original, non-Retina iPad mini. The former will be available for $299, while the first-gen device will sell for only $249.

Here's the new 27" iMac with Retina display. This system features what the company calls a "5K" screen resolution: 5120x2880, which adds up to 67% more pixels than 4K. Apple says it had to do some custom engineering to achieve that resolution. The resulting panel apparently draws 30% less power than the last-gen iMac's 2560x1440 screen, and Apple has managed to make the system's edge only 5 mm thick.

As you'd expect, there are upgrades under the hood. In its standard configuration, the 27" iMac with Retina display ships with a 3.5GHz quad-core Core i5 processor, a Radeon R9 M290X graphics chip, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB Fusion Drive, and Thunderbolt 2 connectivity. You can also order the system with a quad-core Core i7 CPU and a Radeon R9 M295X GPU.

Pricing will start at $2,499, and Apple says the system will be available starting today.

Last, but not least, Apple has updated the runt of its desktop litter, the Mac mini, with faster hardware and a lower price. For $499 (which is down from $599 for the previous model), the diminutive desktop packs a Haswell CPU, either Iris or HD Graphics 5000 integrated graphics, PCIe solid-state storage storage, 802.11ac connectivity, and dual Thunderbolt 2 ports. The new Mac mini should also be available starting today.

For more coverage of Apple's event, check out the live blogs at AppleInsider, Ars Technica, Engadget, and The Verge.

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