Hands on with Apple's new iPad

October 23, 2012: 4:07 PM ET

Also: first impressions of the new iMac and MacBook.

FORTUNE -- For the first time in years, Apple (AAPL) held a product unveiling at San Jose's California Theatre and, as many predicted, the company delivered. It unveiled a 7.9-inch version of the iPad, dubbed the iPad mini. Also on display: a 13-inch MacBook with a high-resolution Retina Display, redesigned iMac, faster 9.7-inch-sized iPad, and updated Mac minis.

I managed to spend some time with every product save the Mac mini, which was not made available. Here are some first impressions. (More to come!)

The new iMac is much, much thinner. Photo: JP Mangalindan/Fortune.com

New iMac.  A redesign for the iMac has been a long time coming, and Apple appears to have hit a home run by making it significantly thinner. On stage, Senior Vice President of Marketing Phil Schiller was quick to point out that it's 5 millimeters, which it is -- but only at the display's edges. Where the computer base meets the display, it's significantly thicker. The computer also lacks a Retina Display, a rumor the blogs had been kicking around in the last few months.

13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display.  You'd be forgiven for thinking you've seen this notebook before because chances, are you have. The new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display looks nearly identical to the 15-inch version Apple rolled out earlier this year, only of course, smaller. More impressive than the fact that it's 20% thinner is the weight. Hovering just over 3.5 lbs., this MacBook Pro is 1 lb. lighter than predecessors, and it feels it. In fact, it's just half a pounder heavier than the 13-inch MacBook Air, but with significantly faster parts. The $1,699 base model includes a 2.5 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 8 gigabytes of RAM, 128 GB of flash storage, and 7 hours of battery life. Everyday tasks zipped along, but I have more once I get my hands on a review unit.

MORE: Live from Apple's iPad event

4th generation iPad.  Apple seemed to surprise many in the audience by announcing a new 9.7-inch iPad just half a year or so after the previous version launched. The external design remains the same, save for the new Lightning connector port. But inside there's a new, faster A6X chip which promises twice the processor and graphics performance. Also onboard: up to twice as fast WiFi reception. Indeed, the iPad felt snappier overall when loading and switching between apps.

And the pièce de résistance:

The 7-inch iPad mini is finally here. Photo: JP Mangalindan/Fortune.com

iPad Mini.  Apple's biggest splash was the most anticipated. With the long-rumored 7.9-inch iPad, the company is entering an area of the tablet market Jobs once brushed off. And yet, more than two years after the first-generation iPad launch, we have this pint-sized mini. So, what's it like? At .28 inches thick and .68 lbs, it's very much a miniature version of the iPad tens of millions already own, but lighter and thinner, about as light as those old Reader's Digests kicking around your parents' basement. In other words, you'll never be complaining about the weight.

Because the iPad mini uses a slower processor, don't expect apps to load and menus to snap like they do on the fourth generation 9.7-inch iPad, but speed, at least during the 10 minutes or so I spent with it, did not appear to be an issue. (It has the same processor as the iPad 2.) Those spoiled by the sharpness of the Retina Display may find their eyes briefly adjusting to the iPad mini's 1,024 x 768 resolution screen. But again, it's a non-issue given the tablet's small size. At $329, more than Google's (GOOG) Nexus 7 or Amazon's (AMZN) Kindle Fire HD, it's not the cheapest of the lot or even "competitively priced" per se.

Something tells me this thing -- particularly the white version -- will sell well.

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About This Author
JP Mangalindan
JP Mangalindan
Writer, Fortune

JP Mangalindan is a San Francisco-based writer at Fortune, covering Silicon Valley. Since joining in 2010, he has written on a wide array of topics, from the turnaround of eBay to the evolution of net neutrality. A graduate of Fordham University, Mangalindan has also written for GQ, Popular Science, and Entertainment Weekly.

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